Is it dead yet?

No, not Britney’s career. No need to ask that. I was referring to HD DVD. Ever since the Warner Bros announcement right before CES that it would go Blu-ray only, nothing seems to have gone the format’s way. Last week, Netflix and Best Buy abandoned the format. The Netflix defection left HD DVD without a rental outlet, basically, since Blockbuster went Blu-ray only last year.

Now really is the last straw. Wal-Mart is dropping HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray. Target abandoned HD DVD last July and Best Buy has all but kicked it to the curb. In a statement today, Wal-Mart Senior Vice President of Home Entertainment Gary
Severson said

“We’ve listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference
toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases.”
Wal-Mart will sell out its remaining HD DVD product and go Blu, like pretty much everyone else.

At this point, you have to figure Toshiba is looking for as dignified an exit as possible. While some people I know will undoubtedly rub the HD DVD camp’s nose in it (*cough* Bill Hunt *cough*), no one has a right to gloat here. This was a monumental waste of a sickening amount of money. Only rich consumer electronics companies could have pulled this stunt. No start-up or venture funded companies would ever have done something so wasteful as the HD and Blu-ray format war. If DVD was splintered like this in 1997, it would never have succeeded. As it was, that almost happened with Circuit City’s white elephant, Divx, but people just plain recoiled from Divx. You couldn’t make that argument between HD and Blu-ray. Business schools will study this foolish format war for years to come, I’m sure.

For those bargain hunters, keep your eyes peeled. All of the Toshiba HD DVD players are decent standard definition players that offer upscaling, the ability to make a standard definition DVD look sharper than it actually is. And the HD-A35 in particular is a sweet piece of electronics, with its Silicon Optix chipset usually found in players that sell for $500 or more. By and large, the A35 is very well reviewed, and with the price plummeting to the $200 range, it would make a great standard definition DVD player. There are certainly no Blu-ray players in this price range. Worth a look.

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