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High-def movies will soon reach the mass market thanks to Wally's World

Reports came in late last week of Wal-Mart planning to stock inexpensive high-definition disc movie players for under $300. The retailer reportedly is ordering 2 million players produced by Great Wall Corporation in China, with parts developed by Taiwan’s Fuh Yuan and Japan’s TDK, in a $100 million deal.

Although the news was initially pegged as a huge boost to the HD DVD camp, closer examination and more accurate translation of Chinese reports indicate that the players for Wal-Mart are “Blu-ray (or blue light) HD DVD” players, adding an extra layer of confusion to the matter. Both next-generation optical formats use blue or violet lasers, so unless the player is to be compatible with both HD DVD and Blu-ray, the exact nature of this low-priced will be unknown until we get official English confirmation.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Mellissa O’Brien would not comment on the apparent deal between the retailer and its Chinese manufacturing partners, but did offer to Home Media Magazine, “[Most] of the shoppers asking about and purchasing either Blu-ray or HD DVD are already pretty savvy technically about both — they are the kind of consumer that absolutely wants the very best and latest in quality that's available. It's not quite yet a product the average shopper is attune too, but we anticipate that will change very soon as prices continue to come down.”

The release date of the player is just as widely speculated upon as the price. However, reports cite the manufacturer’s plans of fulfilling the entire 2 million unit order by the end of 2008 point to a release likely within a year’s time.

Toshiba recently dropped the price of its entry-level HD DVD player to $399, making a low-cost high-definition player for under $300 look extremely plausible. Blu-ray hardware maintains a higher price point in the market, with Sony planning for a $599 standalone player coming this summer.

Currently, the cheapest Blu-ray Disc player is in the form of the PlayStation 3, which until recently, allowed consumers to buy into the format for $499 with the 20GB console. Sony is now offering only the 60GB model, citing overwhelming consumer preference.

For Xbox 360 owners, the least expensive way to watch HD DVD movies is with the add-on drive which retails for $199. The drive also works on high-end computers, giving home theater PC owners another cost-effective option.

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RE: Inexpensive?
By DocDraken on 4/23/2007 7:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
$300 is cheap for a standalone player! You can't even get a proper quality standard definition DVD player for less than $150 and good ones are around $400 and up, so $300 for a blueray or HD-DVD player is certainly not expensive. At least that's the way I see it and I'm not exactly rich, just a normal university student...

RE: Inexpensive?
By zombiexl on 4/23/2007 8:57:33 AM , Rating: 2
You can't even get a proper quality standard definition DVD player for less than $150 and good ones are around $400 and up, so $300 for a blueray or HD-DVD player is certainly not expensive.

Yeah, but remember these are going to be cheap-o walmart branded players. Using your example these wouldnt be proper players. Of course I've bought a number of top brand DVD players (not APEX, or the like) for under $150, so I'm not sure I agree with you conclusion that you need to spend at least $150 to get a good dvd player.

Right now with some searching you can get some of the cheaper toshiba's around $300 (or so i've heard).

RE: Inexpensive?
By OrSin on 4/23/2007 9:12:44 AM , Rating: 2
$30 dvd work just as well as most of $200 players. YOu get crappy menus ans some can't do divx as well but in general picture and sound is the same.

Now if you you want a great scaler you have to go high, but you tlaking about 5% difference in PQ at most and unless you sitting 3 feet from a 65' in TV and freeze framing everything you can see it. Or at least I can't.

95% of the people dont care about all the bells and whisles.
They want big clear picture on thier cheap 42' plasma and a sub $300 HD players will give them just that.

RE: Inexpensive?
By DocDraken on 4/23/2007 9:45:08 AM , Rating: 2
$30 dvd work just as well as most of $200 players. YOu get crappy menus ans some can't do divx as well but in general picture and sound is the same.

Ahem, may I suggest you try a premium player with HDMI on a premium surround and projector system? Most good DVD players don't even have divx. Video quality have been clearly worse on all the cheap DVD players I've tried. And this is on just a 32" TV without scalers. As for sound quality, well they don't even come near the more expensive players.

I know that 95% don't care about bells and whistles (or audiophile sound or high image quality) I'm just saying that $300 is cheap for a player that most likely has better image quality than even a current $1000 DVD-player.

RE: Inexpensive?
By DocDraken on 4/23/2007 9:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
Oops, I think I misunderstood you. Please disregard above post.

RE: Inexpensive?
By DocDraken on 4/23/07, Rating: 0
RE: Inexpensive?
By zombiexl on 4/23/2007 9:49:25 AM , Rating: 2
I've had an expensive denon ($2k) and to be honest it wasnt worth the price for the slight quality difference over a sub 150 sony, toshiba, etc.

Unless you're spending $25K+ on you setup there is no reason to spend that kind of $$$. If you are spending that much, then you obviously have money to burn. Personally I'd rather spend money on something i'll use more often or will make me money. An addition to my house, rental property, etc (not that 25k will be enough for either of those ventures).

RE: Inexpensive?
By masher2 on 4/23/2007 2:52:04 PM , Rating: 3
> "Which "top brand" DVD players under $150 have you bought? "

I had a $139 Oppo for a while that very nearly matched the image quality of my $1K Denon 3910. It was a step or two below on fit and finish, but from a sheer playability perspective, almost a near-match.

RE: Inexpensive?
By Larrymon2000 on 4/23/2007 9:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
150 and up for a decent DVD Player? No, I don't think so, especially since you can get a good one for 100 bucks here, in Canada. I would think that someone on a modest university budget would come to that conclusion.

RE: Inexpensive?
By mackintire on 4/23/2007 9:42:36 AM , Rating: 2
Your eyeballs must be decieving you. I own a 42" panny. and I can tell you that I see interlacing issues, inverse telesync issues and cadence issue. Not to mention the other items like audio replication and color rendering. I'm looking forward to getting a Oppo DV-970HD.

The combination of cadence change and bad inverse tele really looks ugly.

RE: Inexpensive?
By DocDraken on 4/23/07, Rating: 0
RE: Inexpensive?
By Hare on 4/23/2007 9:51:55 AM , Rating: 5
It's especially the sound quality that sucks on the cheap players.

Not true. If you are talking about digital multi channel audio (DD, DTS etc) it should be obvious that your receiver/amp does the processing. The player has nothing to do with the sound quality from the digital out, it simply passes through the ones and zeros.

It's like saying that Mp3's from sound better from Seagate drives compared to Western Digital...

RE: Inexpensive?
By zombiexl on 4/23/07, Rating: 0
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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