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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: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By elmikethemike on 4/23/2007 9:02:57 AM , Rating: 1
I couldn't agree more, in fact I made a similar comment in another forum

If I have a good HDTV that supports 1.3 HDMI, with a native resolution of 1080P, why in the world would I want to connect a cheapo HD-DVD (or Blu-Ray) player to it? Anyone with half a brain wouldn't spend thousands on a good TV and then skimp on the media that connects to it. If you do, then you're silly. All HD/BR players are not created equal.

And if you don't have an new or expensive HDTV, there's no point in owning an HD/BR player to begin with.

Whatever the case is, these players are going to be cheap in quality and slow. I'd be surprised if they even support HDMI at all.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By masher2 (blog) on 4/23/2007 9:18:07 AM , Rating: 5
> "If I have a good HDTV that supports 1.3 HDMI, with a native resolution of 1080P, why in the world would I want to connect a cheapo HD-DVD (or Blu-Ray) player to it? "

Very few people have such a set...but quite a few have a set that supports 720p or 1080i. On my 720p FP, the difference between HDMI (1.2) and composite is undetectable, even with your nose to the 103" screen. On the 1080p RP, there's a small difference...but you pretty much have to freeze-frame and analyze to see it.

As for HDMI 1.3, the difference between it and 1.2 in reference to HD-DVD or BD will be zero, no matter what set you play it on.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By awer26 on 4/23/2007 10:46:14 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
On my 720p FP, the difference between HDMI (1.2) and composite is undetectable, even with your nose to the 103" screen.


Either you don't know what composite connections are or you are legally blind. Composite combines all video signals on a single yellow wire and even on my 50" 720p set it is horrible.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By Scorpion on 4/23/2007 11:56:19 AM , Rating: 2
Well I'm going to assume that he probably meant Component. At least I hope he did, because if he intentionally said composite then that is a gross error. :)


By masher2 (blog) on 4/23/2007 2:43:04 PM , Rating: 3
I mean component yes...my projector doesn't even have a composite connector ;)


By Oregonian2 on 4/23/2007 5:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
I did see a noticeable improvement using a regular DVD player connected to a 720p TV using component cables vs a upscaling DVD player connected through an HDMI connector (to the same TV). There are more variables than just the cable here (different player), but the improvement was noticeable. I'll admit it just may be that the upscaler in the TV isn't worth a hoot, but still.... :-)


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By Jellodyne on 4/23/2007 9:40:49 AM , Rating: 4
> If I have a good HDTV that supports 1.3 HDMI, with a
> native resolution of 1080P, why in the world would I want
> to connect a cheapo HD-DVD (or Blu-Ray) player to it?

Maybe you dont want to bet $1000 on what may well be the next Betamax? Anyway, if the video and audio are both sent digitally via HDMI, isn't the cheapest player on the market going to produce a picture which is exactly the same as the most expesive player, bit for bit? Assuming this new player supports HDMI 1.3 to allow it to ship the full range of HD audio streams of course. Even failing that you're still getting better than DVD audio.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By zombiexl on 4/23/2007 9:43:00 AM , Rating: 2
The player still needs to decode and at this price may not have the horsepower to do so. But I'd agree that you should still get better quality than 480p.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By Jellodyne on 4/23/2007 12:19:50 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't a lack of horsepower to decode the stream result in full-screen black or massive visual glitches, rather than just a slightly degraded signal? Can a player just skip step in the decode -- like not do motion compensation or deblocking? I doubt it.

In the analog output DVD era, it was true that cheap players produced dodgy output due to substandard output stages. I'm not convinced that the same is true in the HDMI era. Digital is digital. 'The sight and sound of perfect' and all that.


By bplewis24 on 4/23/2007 2:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
HDMI is just referring to how the bits get transferred to the Television. It has nothing to do with cheaper components in the actual unit which do the decoding or video processing.

It is very likely that a significantly (read: hundreds of dollars) cheaper unit is going to either skimp on the processing/decoding chips or other significant features (1080p24 direct, advanced audio support/decoding, analog outs, dvd upscaling, etc).

Brandon


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By bldckstark on 4/23/2007 12:56:02 PM , Rating: 5
So you are saying, without even seeing the spec sheet, or the player itself, that if it doesn't cost a lot of $$ then it is a piece of crap? Maybe Wal-Mart is going to run up the price to $400, so then maybe you could check it out. You can buy one and brag to your friends how much you paid for it!

I guess I am silly, because I try to determine if something fits a quality/dollar ideal specific to myself, and buy things based upon that.


RE: My math may be a bit rusty but..
By alifbaa on 4/23/07, Rating: 0
By masher2 (blog) on 4/23/2007 2:49:24 PM , Rating: 3
> "I want it to have...deep color support...In short, I want it to be worth buying."

This is what I'm taking issue with. I've bought two $1000+ DVD players that were both well worth what I paid for them. None of them had "deep color support"...and neither of them played every audio and video format under the sun. So what? I buy a DVD player to play DVDs, and play them as well as it possibly can.

Thinking that a player with HDMI 1. automatically gives you "deep color support" is a fallacy anyway. To get expanded color depth out of prerecorded discs, you'd need a new chipset as well, capable of interpolating the color information thats not on the discs.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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