The high definition format wars are in full swing and they're about to heat up even more with HD DVD prices dropping below the $200 mark. HD DVD took an early lead only to lose the lead to Blu-ray because of Sony's PlayStation 3 with built-in Blu-ray capability. With Blockbuster video brick and mortar stores shunning HD DVD on its physical shelves and misreported stories that Target would abandon HD DVD when it was merely doing end caps for Blu-ray, Blu-ray was beginning to look like the decisive winner. But with Paramount and DreamWorks declaring their exclusive support for HD DVD, that breathed life back in to the HD DVD camp.
It will get even more interesting starting next month on Black Friday when we see deals like this $300 Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD Player sell for $170 according to this site. It's likely that projection/LCD/Plasma HDTVs which have come drastically down in price will be a hot seller this Christmas season and the retailers are hoping to move a lot of HDTVs and HD DVD players. With major retailers like Wal-Mart and Circuit City pushing cheap HD DVD players, it could once again turn the tide of war. Sub-$200 HD DVD players have been in the rumor mill for some time but it was widely believed that the $200 price will be for some no-name brand and not Toshiba.
Blu-ray players currently sell for just under $400 and we could see bigger discounts on Black Friday but it's still twice the cost of HD DVD players. While the PlayStation 3 currently has a huge market share relative to set-top HD DVD boxes, it remains to be seen if the numbers will flip by the end of this year. Since HD DVD players will play standard DVDs up-converted to 1080i, the low-price and backward compatibility should be compelling to consumers as a stand-alone replacement for the ubiquitous DVD players.