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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 masher2 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
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 on 4/23/2007 2:43:04 PM , Rating: 3
I mean component 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.... :-)

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