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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 alifbaa on 4/23/2007 2:39:06 PM , Rating: 0
No. That's not what we're saying at all. I can't imagine you actually read what we said, so I'll give you the dumbed down version of what was already discussed...

What I said was that before I spend money on what is really just an upgraded DVD player, I want it to give me some real value. I want it to do things like play any format of disc that I throw in; audio or video. I want it to have high quality components such as independent video and audio power supplies, dual laser pickups, and deep color support. I want it to be capable of playing the best quality audio codecs with movies. In short, I want it to be worth buying.

You will not find any of those features on a player produced by a no-name brand that costs WM $50/unit less than a year after the genre was introduced. I don't need a spec sheet to know that. All I need is a brain.

Honestly, I don't mean this as an insult, but if you buy all your electronics at the same place you buy dish washing detergent and motor oil, I'm sure the WM special will be a wonderful addition to your HT setup. If you know what you're talking about and are at all interested in quality, you'll continue waiting.

Don't get me wrong. This is a great thing for us all. It will push down prices of all these basic players that are out there right now, and it will force the high end manufacturers to start paying attention to the added features that can be put into their products. In the end, prices will be lower, and features will be better. That doesn't mean this player is going to be anything that I'm interested in buying however.

By masher2 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.

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