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- High-Def Digest Previews the Sony UBP-X1000ES Ultra HD Blu-ray Player [9/29]
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The HD DVD format has taken its share of licks and it's always stayed standing.
Repeated pronouncements by the Blu-ray group last year that Blu-ray had won the format war when no such evidence existed were countered by Paramount and DreamWorks shifting to HD DVD exclusively.
The biggest punch it has taken to date was Warner Bros.' announcement that it would go Blu-ray exclusively at the end of May 2008. What did the HD DVD group do? They lowered the prices of their players significantly, making them an even greater value than before, and retailers are selling out while the street prices reached $100 for the entry-level HD-A3. The high-end HD-A35 (the one that does everything, including 1080p24 and audio bitstreaming and high-end DVD upconversion) is $230 on Amazon.com right now.
These players also come with Warner Bros. 300 and Universal's The Bourne Identity on HD DVD. Additionally, all HD DVD players qualify for a mail-in rebate that gets you an additional five free discs by mail.
A big seller for the HD DVD format has been the add-on drive for the Xbox 360 game system, but it had been left out of the pricing fun. Until now, that is. Microsoft has dropped the price of the HD DVD Add-On Drive to $129.99. It's currently selling on Amazon for $120 (look for the seller to be Amazon.com, not a 3rd party). The drive also comes with a copy of King Kong on HD DVD.
Considering that Warner's announcement hasn't yet had a major impact on the availability of movies on the HD DVD format, nor has it caused HD DVD exclusive studios Paramount, Dreamworks, and Universal to budge, the format just keeps on ticking (to paraphrase a really old watch ad). While it may be easy to count the format out if you look at the press releases and the news articles, HD DVD continues to represent a great value for playing HD media and it's the only way to get such blockbusters as the Jason Bourne movies, Transformers, the Mission Impossible movies, The Matrix Trilogy, and King Kong. Even classic Warner movies like Casablanca and recent hits like Batman Begins are not yet available on Blu-ray, in spite of Warner's new stance in the format war.
As long as you go into your purchase with your eyes open and the knowledge that not all movies from all studios are available on HD DVD (and probably never will be, but not all movies from all studios are available on Blu-ray either) and that there is a chance that the format will eventually disappear in favor of the rival Blu-ray format, you won't be disappointed if such things come to pass.
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