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Wal-Mart Begins Massive Push For HD DVD 338

Posted by kdawson
from the 200-bucks-by-Christmas dept.
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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  • We have a winner! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rednip (186217) * <rednip AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:54PM (#18828285) Journal
    Will the person who picked HD-DVD in April 2007 for the next gen DVD format pool, please step forward to collect their winnings. I don't think that there is any chance that Sony and friends could over come this.
    • by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:01PM (#18828353) Homepage Journal
      I didn't bet, but you're probably right.
      I saw an ad in Entertainment Weekly pushing the idea of discs that had DVDs on one side and HD-DVDs on the other. Anyone want to bet that studios supporting HD-DVD will soon issue all their new (non-BluRay) films in this format? Those discs will play in ordinary DVD players, and they will be already adapted to one HD format if the customer decides to upgrade to HD. Backward compatibility and possible lock-in: what a beautiful combo for a marketing department!
    • What are they going to view those HD-DVDs on? Does Wal-mart sell HDTVs? Do most of their customers own an HDTV?
    • by Divebus (860563)

      There was a huge thud with DVD-Audio and SACD with the same premise - higher quality but only if you had the player for it. That format war took out both formats and this might do the same once on demand, downloadable movies gain traction. They won't need a special player and won't even have to get off the couch.

      The average Joe (who shops at Wal-Mart) will own an HD television? Second, the HD-DVD or Blu-ray disks will have higher quality but will the average joe spend 10x more for it than a standard DVD p

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firethorn (177587)
        The average Joe (who shops at Wal-Mart) will own an HD television?

        You'd be suprised; the local TV section is about 50-50 for HD and SD. The HD section looks to be 2/3rds the TV section, but that's because HDTVs average substantially larger. 50" HDTVs aren't uncommon, and they minimize out at around 20". For STDVs they max out around 36", and min out around 12"(kitchen tubes?).

        And I seriously doubt Walmart stocks anything that doesn't sell.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by squiggleslash (241428)

        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 wor

    • by samkass (174571)
      The submission commentary is completely inaccurate, so I can see how you mistakenly formed that opinion. In fact, the cheapest Blu-Ray player is already half the "$1000" mentioned in the submission, and you get a game player compatible with PS2 games (the most popular selling console today) and great HD games with it as well. The PS3 has sold millions of units already, so even if Wal-Mart sells all 2 million of the players mentioned in the article, HD DVD will still have quite a challenge to move ahead of
  • HD DVD Wins (Score:2, Informative)

    by vertigoCiel (1070374)
    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"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by garbletext (669861)
      seriously. My favorite anachronism is Sony also plans to put the technology in the PlayStation 3 when the game console is released in the spring
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by saforrest (184929)
        seriously. My favorite anachronism is Sony also plans to put the technology in the PlayStation 3 when the game console is released in the spring

        Well, that's not an anachronism. That statement was entirely accurate when the IHT article was written — in October 2005.
        • "Anachronism" doesn't mean "inaccurate". It means "belonging to a different period of time"--in this case, the time before PS3 was released.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      No kidding: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2005... until now, I was not one to complain about Slashdot reporting on old news :)
    • 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 MillionthMonkey (240664) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:07PM (#18828769)
        On Slashdot, 50% of the news has to be about Sony.

        sony [slashdot.org], haha [slashdot.org]
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Joelfabulous (1045392)
          No, you've got it all wrong. I know you were going for humour, but everyone gets hit with the FUDstick, for the most part. Tons of articles about Microsoft have defectivebydesign tagged to it. Every time there's a relatively small exploit in Mac OSX, we freak out. Nintendo, riding the high right now, can seemingly do no wrong, while Sony is effectively screwed. Yes, they brought this on themselves, but this is what happens when companies look too much at the return on investment and forget to make a wo
        • On Slashdot, 50% of the news has to be about Sony.

          And 100% of those posts have to mention rootkits!

      • 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.
      • This link is more up to date http://gear.ign.com/articles/782/782359p1.html [ign.com]

        They won't be sold until Q4 2007 though. From the link

        April 20, 2007 - In breaking news today, it would appear that mega-retailer WalMart has contracted a Chinese manufacturer to produce millions of low-cost HD-DVD players. Though somewhat obfuscated by translation issues and the breaking nature of the news, the current internet consensus suggests that Taiwan based manufacturer Fuh Yuan, in cooperation with TDK, will produce the

  • What is the translated Chinese? "blue laser HD-DVD" is only ONE way to translate the Chinese press release. HD-DVD or Blu-Ray? It's not clear because EITHER could be a proper translation.
  • blacklisting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:05PM (#18828377)
    What will Wal-Mart do if one of there cheap and big seller players get blacklisted?
    Ii would suck to be working there on that day.
    • The odds of a hardware player being blacklisted are slim. Software players are much easier to hack, and until they're tightened considerably, or Trusted Computing becomes the norm, they'll be the ones people focus on. If a hardware player is hacked, it'll probably be the Xbox360 HD-DVD drive or the PS3 Blu-Ray drive, because there are already active mod-scenes in the console world, and so a lot is known about them. There really aren't hackers who mess with stand-alone players. I mean, maybe there's 1-2
      • by ivan256 (17499)
        Do you know how easy it is to socket the nvram on something like this? People do it with things like Tivos all the time. How much do you want to bet t turns out the keys aren't even encrypted on the chip?

        Once a player is available for under $100, the key will be hacked out of it, and the chinese knock-offs of unlicensed, dual-format players will arrive in mass quantities.
        • I never said hardware hacking was hard, just that the software cracking community > console hacking community > Consumer Electronics hacking community.
    • Ii would suck to be working there on that day.

      By "there", you mean the department at Sony responsible for explaining to the CEO why all of your products have been removed from the shelves of the largest retailer in the world? Yes, that would indeed suck.

  • 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]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LIGC (974596)
      They already have another Blu-ray player out under $1000: the PS3.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ivan256 (17499)
        Samsung also sells standalone Blu-Ray players for under $600.

        I'd bet that by Christmas you'll find Blu-Ray players for under $300. The price ramp thus far has fairly closely matched DVD players when they came out, with the exception of the slight stall at the end of 2006 with the blue laser shortage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Matt Perry (793115)

      The Sony BDP-S300 is due to be released in Summer 2007.
      Yes, but will it play Sony discs? [slashdot.org]
  • by SQLz (564901) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:14PM (#18828429) Homepage Journal
    I mean: Radio -> HDRadio Tv -> HDTV DVD - >HDDVD Its just simpler for the consumer. Even the industry standard names for the damn aspect ratio is HDxxx depending on the resolutions. The poster also forgets, PS3 is a blue ray player and well under $1000 but that is beside the point. Truthfully, I hope Sony stops with the format obsession. The sad fact is that Sony would have been a lot better off just going with HDDVD. We would all be making money right now and not waiting for years while the consumer waits to see who is going to win. I'm not an industry specialist or anything, obvisouly, but I just don't see the next gen HD format being called "blu ray", when all others are HD-.
    • 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).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by EinZweiDrei (955497) *
      This is exactly where Blu-Ray loses. We have 'HDTV' in our vernacular, and 'DVD' is second nature. 'HD-DVD' is just so natural for people to want. 'Blu-Ray', on the other hand, sounds like some half-baked prototype, still bouncing around in R&D. Specs are meaningless. Videophiles are not going to be the ones deciding the market viability of either of these formats. People who like the sound of particular product names are.
  • by freshmayka (1043432) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:23PM (#18828475)
    I can very easily see a scenario five years from now where Blu-Ray is the dominant format but consumers call it HD-DVD because to them (as another poster pointed out) it's all HD.

  • MPAA want you to buy these players because they introduce a new revenue stream, and to further restrict access to backup your own purchased media.

    Forget the increased disk sizes and high definition, most of the classic programs don't need it.

    I won't be re-buying any of my already bought DVDs (about 220). They are all classics, and I'm in the process of converting them all to Xvid files so I can watch them on-demand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rob1980 (941751)
      I won't be re-buying any of my already bought DVDs (about 220). They are all classics, and I'm in the process of converting them all to Xvid files so I can watch them on-demand.

      How does converting your purchased DVDs to XVID make them any more "on-demand" than just watching the DVDs themselves?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by saforrest (184929)
        How does converting your purchased DVDs to XVID make them any more "on-demand" than just watching the DVDs themselves?

        Well, I suppose if you have a gigantic hard drive (or several of them), then you could have all your movies accessible without swapping discs in and out.

        Though I'm happy to boast that my own laziness threshold, while low, is still well above swapping a DVD.
  • by The Fanta Menace (607612) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:29PM (#18828503) Homepage

    ...improve the dialogue of the movies?

  • by Murmer (96505) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:42PM (#18828581) Homepage
    So, you're saying that the company that created Betamax, ATRAC encoding, the S-Link protocol, Minidisc players, Super-AudioCDs, Memory Sticks and Universal Media Discs might actually lose a format war?

    Preposterous!
    • )
      So, you're saying that the company that created Betamax, ATRAC encoding, the S-Link protocol, Minidisc players, Super-AudioCDs, Memory Sticks and Universal Media Discs might actually lose a format war


      Don't forget CD, DVD, 3.5" floppies and MiniDisc (in japan)... all collosal failures right?

      They don't have the best record but when they cooperate with others on a format like the ones I specified they tend to win. Then they attempt to go it alone they flame out. Blu-ray is a co-operative format. It's the form
  • I imagine this scene from Star Wars where Obi-wan discoverse the massive clone manufacturing plant at a hidden planet on a hidden star, but does not realize what this forebears.
  • Let's see, we've got the pr0n market going to HD-DVD (though why on earth you'd want HD-DVD for pr0n I don't know)... and now we have Walmart pushing it like this, seems like BluRay is going to be reduced to the "has beens" bin ... again. Technically it may have been a superior format (?) but once again Sony shows the way to destroy what could have been a promising format.
    • Let's see, we've got the pr0n market going to HD-DVD (though why on earth you'd want HD-DVD for pr0n I don't know)... and now we have Walmart pushing it like this, seems like BluRay is going to be reduced to the "has beens" bin ... again. Technically it may have been a superior format (?) but once again Sony shows the way to destroy what could have been a promising format.

      Your first statement is wrong. Pr0n has not chosen sides. The story came when the lead guy at Vivid said some stuff about Sony not helpin
  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:17PM (#18828839)

    The justification for the high price of the PS3 is that it is also a Blu-Ray player. If Blu-Ray loses the format war, where does that leave the PS3? Don't even try to say that the PS3 is a superior game console to the Xbox 360. F.E.A.R. was just released on the PS3 and it has inferior graphics to the Xbox360 or PC. The PS3 version was released 6 months after the Xbox 360 version. Nearly every game released on both platforms has inferior graphics and no online for the PS3 version.

    Simply put, the PS3 doesn't hold a candle to the visuals found in the Xbox 360 version -- especially considering the handful of bugs that have dead soldiers getting stuck in walls and twitching on the floor. The detailed environments and clear draw distances aren't found on PS3. If you had never seen the other versions of F.E.A.R., you still wouldn't be impressed with the PS3's graphics, but compared to the PC and 360, this version is graphically dead in the water.

    http://ps3.ign.com/articles/782/782476p2.html/ [ign.com]

    We are looking at a $199 HD-DVD player in the near future. At $150 cost per unit, I think Walmart is going to charge $199 a piece. Walmart works in volume. If they do this, you're going to see $249 players from other retailers. I guess all of the people who are saying that they are waiting for a sub $200 HD player will be buying one soon. Is Sony preventing the release of cheaper Blu-Ray players or is it just taking too long to bring down manufacturing prices?

    HDTVs are about to be widely adopted. On Walmart's website, they are selling a 37 inch 720p/1080i TV for $698. I'm not saying it's the greatest quality television, but it's not outside the price range of the middle class. So you can buy a HD TV and player for under a thousand dollars.

    If Sony had joined the HD-DVD coalition, they would be in a much better position. There would have been no format war and the PS3 would have a HD-DVD drive which would be the certain high definition format. Sony would still collect some royalities, just less than a Blu-Ray victory. Sometimes the safe option is the best option.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:24PM (#18828895) Journal
    I am not a gamer. I don't particularly yet care about HD TV. What is the big deal? *IF* I used Windows, I would not be upgrading from XP yet as there is no real incentive. What is the incentive to care which of these formats win? Either one will slide into the player, I'll open my beer and sit back and watch the movie.

    When it comes to back up, I don't use DVD. I use disk to disk to disk, or disk to disk to tape. Sure, the distribution disk for FC8 might fit on one disk, but uh, so?

    For anyone but those interested in the bleeding edge or new technology, what is the big deal?

  • That article is from 2005. Shouldn't they be here by now?
  • by mkcmkc (197982) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:43PM (#18829005)
    Er, so why am I supposed to buy one of these? Do they come without annoying trailers? Do they allow me to skip forward at any time (no UOPs)? Do they allow me to play any DVD I buy (no region problems)? Do they allow me to back up my media, so that I don't have to buy another one when the kids ride the original across the floor? Anything?
  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Sunday April 22, 2007 @12:07AM (#18829167) Journal
    So let me get this straight -- a deal that Walmart hasn't admitted to, with a format that may or not be HD-DVD (because it could be Blu-Ray given translation problems), with players that won't come out till 2008, will absolutely win the format war for HD-DVD, because no there is no reason for anyone to not buy HD-DVD now (at the currently higher prices) because they promise to win the war because these (without a doubt according to HD-DVD fanboys) are on the way. The same way they promised to win because HD-DVD's early to market strategy would give them an "Unbeatable" lead. And how "All" the studios would support HD-DVD because of the lower replication costs.

    Unless the studios change alignments and go neutral by Christmas it is all over for HD-DVD. Period. I am dubious anyone can make an HD player for 50 dollars (say, how well does "Children of Men" play for you on your XBox 360?). Maybe the mechanism, but it takes a lot of horsepower to do all the modern codecs at full HD and with the DRM overhead.

    I suspect this will all turn out to be a huge misunderstanding that is blown all out of proportion by the HD-DVD camp looking for any good news to hang their hats on after having gotten beaten badly 4 months in a row. Children of Men is out and Matrix preorder has also come and gone. HD-DVD doesn't have any more ammo in the content pipeline to compete with the big titles coming Blu-Ray's way in the next few months.

    If you include PS3 players Blu-Ray sells more players every month than HD-DVD has sold in a full Year.

    Having been to China, they call DVD9 HD-DVD on the street and on the packaging. I suspect we are talking a conventional DVD player that scales conventional DVD to HD resolution. This could definitely be produced for $50 dollars or less. I do not believe they can make $50 HD-DVD players that actually work. Remember this stuff has to have HDMI for God's sake. If it were possible to do the processing, they'd still probably still have to skimp by piping out component only and hope the Down Rez flag never gets set on future HD-DVD discs.

    Blu-Ray also has two additional layers of DRM (and yes I know how much slashdotters all hate DRM) and these will be used for the first time soon. Since the AACS is now completely compromised, the studios will really be watching to see how well Blu-Ray's additional layers hold up. If they last even a few months, the studios will offer up HD-DVD on the altar as a sacrifice to the DRM gods.

    It's not all about how cheap the players are. People that can afford a decent big HDTV (and it really does need to be big to see the BIG difference) can afford a $500 Blu-Ray players (and yes they exist now, pay no attention to the "$1000" player FUD, hell buy a PS3 for $600) and will care more about how many movies are available. Sure HD-DVD will be 100-200 dollars cheaper this Christmas, but Blu-Ray will have the movies and will eventually be considered a must buy item for good HDTVs. People that don't have HDTV or are satisfied with DVD don't need either.
  • So when these players (of unofficial English press release) all crap out less than a year after they've been purchased and a replacement has been purchased do the members of that format count both units toward their "total players sold"? Because if I were them I'd just make one even shitter than the ones Wal-mart will be selling that has to be replaced every couple months and sell it really cheap - that way my total units in use will sky rocket and more media shops will want to use my format.

    Quality before
  • The only thing that matters in HD format is studio support. And Blu Ray studio support is vastly better than HD DVD. Repeat after me, HD-DVD has only one exclusive studio (Universal). Blu Ray has half a dozen, including Sony Pictures studios and Disney/Pixar among others. Once Universal throws in the towel on HD-DVD, it'll be pretty much done. And you can bet your ass Sony won't throw in the towel on Blu Ray.
  • ...but I've been waiting for the no-name Chinese players to turn up before I even gave either HD format the slightest consideration. Unfortunately, now I'm waiting for the cheap Blu-Ray/HD-DVD hybrid players to show up. Whichever one of those can be hacked the most thoroughly to do the most cool shit (and turn off the most annoying DRM "features") will be the one I end up taking home.
  • Don't forget your monster cables only $79.95
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @01:38AM (#18829751)
    Who out there thinks WalMart is going to stock in huge numbers a player that does not play Disney movies? Disney has firmly sided with Blu-Ray, and as Disney goes so too will go Wal-Mart. All you have to do is follow existing relationships to see what will happen...
  • 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.

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