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Wal-Mart Begins Massive Push For HD DVD 338

Several readers sent us word of Wal-Mart's ordering 2 million HD DVD players from China. Hans V wrote, "My kids work at Wal-Mart and the manager there has been talking about this. HD-DVD's are selling like mad there so I hear." Another reader sent us a few links in Chinese and summarized them this way: "The first batches of these blue-laser HD DVD players are to land sometime in 2007, with complete fulfillment of the order [from Fuh Yuan] in 2008. The deal could be worth up to $300 million US, which translates to $150 per player. If so, by the time Christmas 2007 rolls around, Wal-Mart could be selling these for less than $200 retail, although some speculate that the initial manufacturer suggested retail pricing might be in the ballpark of $299. Currently the cheapest high-definition player is a Toshiba HD DVD with an MSRP of $399." By comparison Blu-Ray players, manufactured in Japan, are not expected to drop below $1000 until next year. The International Herald Tribune writes about the risk Toshiba is taking by bringing in Chinese manufacturers to trump Sony in the format war.
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Wal-Mart Begins Massive Push For HD DVD

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  • HD DVD Wins (Score:2, Informative)

    by vertigoCiel (1070374) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:57PM (#18828307)
    Blu-Ray is going to have to overcome a lot to make up for this. Never underestimate the market power of the world's largest retailer.
  • "Writes"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goaway (82658) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:58PM (#18828315) Homepage
    The International Herald Tribune "writes"? How about "wrote, a year and a half ago"?
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:08PM (#18828403) Homepage
    I mean, if I can find it doing a 30 second search over at Sony, why can't the author, rather than implying that Blu-Ray players will be $1000 until 2008. The Sony BDP-S300 is due to be released in Summer 2007.

    Here:
        http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity /eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_DisplayProductInformation-S tart?ProductSKU=BDPS300 [sonystyle.com]

  • HD Radio (Score:5, Informative)

    by supersat (639745) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:44PM (#18828591)
    Of course, the "HD" in HD Radio doesn't stand for "high defintion" -- it stands for "hybrid digital," meaning that it co-exists with standard analog transmissions in the same channel. iBiquity is taking advtange of the fact that many consumers assume the HD prefix means "high definition," when there's no requirement for the digital transmissions to sound any better (especially if they use the bandwidth for additional subchannels).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:52PM (#18828643)
    Hey, like my investment banker says, past performance is no indication of future performance!
  • Re:"Writes"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:00PM (#18828707)
    This is a horrible, horrible Slashdot post. Links to an extremely outdated article, says completely inaccurate information (There's already a $599 Blu-Ray player - the PS3), and on top of that the news about Walmart could have also been mistranslated. From Engadget:

    Update: Pull back the reigns HD DVD fanboys, Akihabara now says that they've made a "huge mistake" with their translation: the original source called it "(chinese characters) HD DVD and (same chinese characters) means Blu-RAY." In other words, Blu-ray HD DVD. Huh? Word to the wise: since both formats use blue lasers, it's best to wait for an English press release before either camp celebrates.
    Way to go Slashdot!
  • by blargster (239820) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:04PM (#18828749)
    On the AVS forum, no fewer that six native Chinese speakers confirmed that the news release was referring to HD DVD.
  • Funny resolutions (Score:4, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:15PM (#18828815) Homepage Journal

    when will companies stop selling 18 bit 1366x768 monitors????
    1366x768 is derived from one of the HDTV resolutions popular in Japan. It can display 1280x720 with a tiny border (3% on each side).

    Or 1280x800
    That was designed to display 1280x720 plus playback controls.

    1440 x 960, 1680 x 1050
    Some of these are laptop screen sizes.

    With 18 bit color depth and piss-poor TN LCDs???
    DLP projectors have 1-bit color depth, but each pixel is temporally dithered, that is, turned on and off fast enough that you don't notice. The 18-bit panels don't turn pixels on and off as fast as a DLP projector does, only about 60 to 75 Hz. But a panel running at 72 Hz still displays three fields in a a 24 Hz progressive image and can use spatiotemporal dithering on the low-order bits over the three fields to increase perceived SNR.
  • Re:"Writes"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr.Radar (764753) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @12:02AM (#18829127)
    If you follow the link trail back to AVS Forum [avsforum.com] (and from there to the original press release in Chinese [ettoday.com]) it is clear that the press release, in fact, talks about HD DVD and not Blu-Ray. This has been confirmed by at least one person who knows Chinese [avsforum.com] who says the phrase translates to "blue laser HD DVD." An explanation for the awkward phrasing is offered in this post [avsforum.com] which says that there is an HD format in China that uses a red-diode laser, hence the specification of the laser being blue-diode.
  • Re:Funny resolutions (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday April 22, 2007 @01:36AM (#18829743) Homepage Journal

    Please kindly direct me to the 1280x720 source?
    I'll let Google do it: broadcast in 720p [google.com]

    As for the DLP thing, you can't compare that to an LCD, anymore than you can compare the 1 bit noise shaping DACs in CD players to a "regular" DAC.
    Any more than people compare the PCM of DVD-Audio to the 1-bit noise shaping of SACD?

    And anyways, why would I want to dither, when the freaking resolution exists in the RSDS spec?
    You don't want to dither. The majority don't care about it they are price-sensitive. Display manufacturers target the price-sensitive part of the demand curve by producing "entry level" (that is, inferior) products.

    You still can't beat a good CRT for color depth and viewing angle. All the LCDs and plasmas I've seen for under 4k$ are all rubbish
    Remember that a bigger TV (e.g. direct-view CRT) has the opportunity cost of lost use of real estate that the TV occupies. Do people who currently use a 27" or smaller CRT have room for a larger CRT HDTV?

    All. I. Want. Is a display whose resolution actually jives with the 1920x1080 HD resolution, and will let me hook up a PC to it without requiring written permission from the underlords of digital.
    HDCP is optional. Your PC turns it on only when you play motion pictures produced by a major studio. Otherwise, TVs with a DVI or HDMI input are perfectly capable of receiving and displaying a DVI or HDMI signal without HDCP.
  • Re:We have a winner! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @01:58AM (#18829857) Homepage Journal
    The ad I saw pushed the HD-DVDxDVD crossbreed as an HD-DVD that can still work in a normal DVD player. Its initial price point will probably be at the HD-DVD level, and it will be made instead of a normal HD-DVD. It will be for both those with an HD-DVD player and those with only a DVD player who hope to upgrade someday. The idea is that you can get HD quality on the title when you upgrade your player, without having to repurchase the film.
    I imagine that eventually, films will come out in the crossbreed format but not the normal DVD format. Since some people do care about what film they're buying, this also will blur that price-point issue.
    It will also make things easier (assuming HD-DVD wins) if there are crossbreed discs when media corps. decide to phase out normal DVD players. Normal DVDs can play on HD-DVD players, but they'll look no better on them; if all you have is DVDs, why not keep buying cheap DVD players? (Esp. the ones with "illegal" features.) But when the HD capability is already in the disc, someone who's less technical (and unaware of DRM risks) may want to upgrade the player to something that can show the HD-DVD side.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @02:30AM (#18829985)
    Look up the CD. You'll find Phillips and Sony had their name on it.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:03AM (#18830107)

    By comparison Blu-Ray players, manufactured in Japan, are not expected to drop below $1000 until next year.
    Ignoring the $499 basic model PS3...

    Samsung BD-P1000 $664.99 in store at Best Buy [bestbuy.com].

    The same player for $699.99 at CompUSA [compusa.com]

    Sony 2x2x2 Blu-ray BD-RE, internal ATA drive $699.99 at CompUSA [compusa.com]

    The Samsung again for $699 at Circuit City [circuitcity.com]

    Or the newer Samsung BD-P1200 for $799.99 at Circuit City [circuitcity.com]

    Then there's the Lite-On Blu Ray Burner for $399.99 at Fry's [outpost.com]

    And the Philips BDP9000 player for $799.99 also at Fry's [outpost.com]

    Man, I can't wait for next year when they finally drop below $1000 at places other than every single major retailer.

    That said, the original poster also misquoted the actual article. There was no mention of Blu Ray players as a whole not dropping below $1,000 until next year - simply that Sony themselves aren't planning on dropping prices on their own models until then.

    Yes, a hypothetical glut of HD-DVD players at $200, if WalMart aren't trying to use the low cost to generate large per-unit profits, could have an interesting effect. Still, we're talking 2 million players total... The XBox360 already has a $199 player and a greater than 5m units capable of adding it - yet the format war's hardly been won or even taken a lead.

    That we're looking at a Christmas with next generation DVD players hitting the $200-300 mark is interesting if nothing much more than people were expecting. Overhyping it by misreading, misinterpreting and misstating everything around it, to try to elevate the drama of it however is kind of a shame.
  • Re:We have a winner! (Score:3, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @06:37AM (#18830935) Homepage Journal

    If the average Joe shops at Wal*Mart, then they have a high likelihood of having an HD-TV, given those are the TVs Wal*Mart seems to be pushing when I go there.

    There are SD-TVs for sale, but the range is dwindling. HD-TV seems also to be selling on the back of higher screen sizes, which are becoming increasingly popular. There are pretty much no SD-TVs available any more over 25".

    And the "average Joe" has spent 10x more for higher quality in the past, it wasn't that long ago that DVD took off, in a world where VHS players weren't significantly more expensive than DVD players are today. Couple that with the idea that after spending $600-2,000 on an HDTV, a $200 High-def media player isn't going to seem either expensive, or a frivolity...

    As far as the other comments go: DVD-Audio and SACD failed really because the music industry never went with either. SACD should have been a shoe-in, it's completely CD compatible, and has higher quality on SACD players, but the industry never saw the point. The quality, from their point of view, was high enough with CD. With most music being listened to on portable devices, the idea of improving the media production values just to get a superficially higher quality for the 1% of people that (a) would notice, and (b) have equipment that's good enough to show the differences, was clearly not worth it.

    Higher quality movies, on the other hand, are something the movie industry has opened itself up to, not least because the artists themselves see the value - they're making movies to be shown on giant "high resolution" (eg projected from 35-70mm film) widescreens, and right now the only way to see their works at home is chopped down to 720x480, using a non-native framerate, and interlacing. It's the audio equivalent of every piece of music being distributed using telephone quality audio technologies.

    A year ago, I'd have said both formats were destined to fail to become mainstream, with one ultimately becoming the next Laserdisc, because of the lack of uptake of HD-TV. HD-TV however seems to be seriously taking off. Big, widescreen, and high resolution, and the prices are still coming down. Exactly what people want.

  • Re:We have a winner! (Score:5, Informative)

    by metamatic (202216) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @10:25AM (#18831583) Homepage Journal
    Blu-ray has region locks. HD-DVD doesn't. That alone is reason enough for me to want Blu-ray to die a flaming death.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2007 @12:15PM (#18832283)
    On paper, both consoles have about the same power.

    PS3: 512MB memory (last I heard, 96MB of that is permanently reserved for the OS...it used to be 128MB on older devkits), Cell processor (1 general purpose core and 7 DSPs, of which 1 is permanently reserved for the OS), classic dedicated shader pipeline architecture.

    Xbox360: 512MB memory (of which 32MB permanently reserved for the OS), 3 dual-core general purpose PPC processors (i.e. 6 in-order execution cores, of which half the cycles of one are permanently reserved for the OS), unified shader pipe architecture.

    On the PS3, you have to dedicate a large, fixed chunk of RAM to be graphics memory. On the 360, its more flexible (plus you have more RAM available). Thats why PS3 ports often half textures at half the sizes of the 360 games.

    In a year or two we may see some pretty awesome PS3 games. But in the meantime, its just easier for developers to get the full power of the 360 than it is to use the PS3. The 360 has a symmetric multiprocessing model--6 cores that are the same type and share the same memory heirarchy. The PS3 uses a single general core and a bunch of DSPs that have a different instruction set, different memory heirarchy and only 128KB of internal RAM!! So the PS3 is much harder to program for.

    Also, the 360 shares the same pipes for pixel and vertex shaders, so there is no risk of (say) vertex hardware going unused while the pixel stuff is fully loaded. It load-balances automatically and very efficiently. And of course the MS devkits are much easier to develop with than Sony's.

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