I've been roaming the usual brick and mortar stores this week to see what's going on in the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD wars.
Perhaps the first significant thing I saw, was at Best Buy in Lake Forest, CA. Samsung Blu-ray players for $299.
Then I just read somewhere (not confirmed) that Circuit City is offering a Sony Blu-ray player for $299, with five free titles. Now that works out to well less than $200 after you figure at least $25 per disc.
I've seen Toshiba HD-DVD players for $199 for a while now, but I haven't followed whether they have bundled discs.
Also good news for consumers, Wal-Mart apparently offered up an HD-DVD player for $99 at one of their "secret sales" which go out to their mailing list. (That was back before Thanksgiving. A more recent Wal-Mart secret sale had the Toshiba HD-A3 player for $298, but with 12 free HD-DVD titles. Now based on the normal selling prices of HD-DVD discs, that's pretty close to a free HD-DVD player!
On the bright side, thanks to Wal-Mart, my original prediction back in late 2006 in the first Blu-ray vs HD-DVD article, turns out to be in part true. Back then I predicted that consumers would probably be able to buy a hi-def player for under $100, and Walmart has made that happen. Of course I predicted both HD-DVD and Blu-ray would be at that price, so I didn't get it all right.
Still HD-DVD for $99, and a $299 Blu-ray player with $125-$175 worth of free discs, is going to make for very happy shoppers this month.
As to who's winning the war? Well, Blu-ray still has the advantage in most areas (except player price).
I noted that the local Best Buy had 3 sections of Blu-ray titles, vs only 2 of HD-DVD titles.
Last time I wrote, the big news was pro HD-DVD - that Paramount joined Universal as the two exclusively HD-DVD studios (except for Spielbergs library). This time around, no major announcements, but, interestingly, I see that Warner, who has been consistantly supporting both formats, just released Blade Runner, in standard DVD and Blu-ray, but no mention of HD-DVD. Does this mean anything? Who knows, CES is around the corner (2nd week of January), and it is a time when announcements can be expected.
But, perhaps more importantly, I found this quote on a blog: "During the Black Friday period, BD titles made up 72.6% of all high-def purchases, with HD DVD totaling 27.4%, according to Nielsen/VideoScan figures cited by the [Blu-ray Disc Association]."