Warner Bros. announced they were becoming an exclusively Blu-Ray studio this weekend, apparently completely pulling the rug on the HD-DVD camp. Said a Toshiba press release:
TOKYO, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/—Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.’ decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD. As central members of the DVD Forum, we have long maintained a close partnership with Warner Bros. We worked closely together to help standardize the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and shape HD DVD as its next-generation successor.
We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007.
Toshiba‘s one of the HD-DVD founders and following this announcement, they pulled their CES conference entirely. A bit of a death knell ringing for the HD-DVD side, with rumors swirling that Microsoft may be pulling their HD-DVD support as well.
It makes the free HD-DVD press backpack/roller bags a bit of a sad affair.
In this episode, we open up the HP Pavilion HDX Dragon PC. This thing is a monster - a 20.1-inch notebook that specializes in home entertainment, sporting dual-lamp displays and weighing in at 15.5 pounds. Other stats of note on the HDX Dragon are the 64-bit Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB included memory (it supports up to 4GB), HP Imprint casing (looks very sleek), and fingerprint reader for security.
Since it’s a computer geared towards entertainment, the video card should also be mentioned. The HDX Dragon ships with a 512MB ATi Mobility Radeon HD2600 XT. That means that you get DirectX 10 support out of the box. Continuing on the whole entertainment meme, it also has a built-in HD DVD-ROM drive, allowing you to play back your HD DVD movies at 1080p.
Finally we have the connections, which are too many for us to go through - so we will let HP tell the story here:
The HDX comes with 4 USB 2.0 ports, an Express Card/54 slot (which also supports Express Card/34), an HDMI port, an S-Video, a VGA, an RJ-11, an RK-45, an IEEE 1394 FireWire, and a Consumer IR. A 5-in-1 digital media Card reader supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, and xD-Picture Cards. You get an eSATA port for high-speed data transfer to external storage devices up to six times faster than existing solutions, which is perfect for high-def video content recording. There’s an integrated 802.11a/g/b/pre-N plus Bluetooth for highest-speed wireless connections. And the adjustable webcam with integrated microphones lets you capture still photos and short videos and for live video chat.
So yeah - they packed a lot into this machine. Now hit the video to actually see how it all came together.
Let us know what you think, or what you want us to unbox next!
Read More | HP Pavilion HDX Dragon Product Page
Hot on the heels of Samsung announcing their third generation Blue-ray players, Toshiba has just filled us in on their soon-to-be-released third gen HD DVD players. First thing to take note of right out of the gate is that the top-of-the-line model, the HD-A35, will cost $499 USD as opposed to the current $799 that the HD-XA2 goes for. The HD-A35 offers 5.1 channel analog output and High Bit Rate Audio (up to 7.1 channel) via HDMI.All of the new models will also boast 24p support and CE-Link, along with a much nicer streamlined appearance. As for pricing and availability, the HD-A3 will go for $299.99 and is expected to be available in October, the HD-A30 should ship in September at $399.99, and the HD-A35 will ship in October at the aforementioned price of $499.99. Click on over to PR Newswire for the full release.
Read More | PR NewsWire
Announced at Comic-Con, the new price drop on the HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 will lower the unit’s price to $179 (down from $199.99) starting August 1. As an added incentive, Toshiba’s Perfect Offer has been extended to the 360 HD-DVD Player – anyone who purchases the HD-DVD add-on will be able to select five free HD-DVDs from a list of 15 through a mail-in offer. Don’t expect the greatest selection of movies, though, as is the case with the five free Blu-ray movies that come with the purchase of a PlayStation 3. But free is free.
Microsoft also teased the HD-DVD release of Heroes: Season 1 and 300; Xbox Live will be home to some exclusive content. On August 14, 300 will be available for download in HD, and for a limited time, the pilot episode of Heroes will be free to download.
It certainly looks like Microsoft is pushing hard with HD-DVD, and understandably so – Blu-ray has been the more successful of the two next-gen DVD formats as of late. And the success of Blu-ray is of major support to Sony and the PlayStation 3 - and Microsoft isn’t looking to do them any favors.
Toshiba has announced that its recent HD-DVD players’ promotional pricing will not return to its original cost. This is excellent news to those who have yet had occasion to purchase one and may serve as a hint for this year’s holiday shopping, which seems to arrive earlier every year. The company’s HD-D2 is only $279.99, the HD-A2 is now $299.99, the HD-A20 is $399.99, and if you want to splurge, their HD-XA2 has been rolled back to $799.99. Here’s to Toshiba, who obviously knows that a good deal is a good idea in the realm of mostly high-priced gadgets.
As was first reported by Cheap Ass Gamer, it looks like the PlayStation 3 will be seeing a $100 price drop to $499.99 beginning July 12. Initially, it looked like this might simply be a promotion for the week of the 15th, but GameDaily BIZ has confirmed this with a merchandising manager at one of the world’s biggest retailers who wished to remain anonymous.
While the price drop is scheduled across retail to take place on July 12 (which is a Thursday), the first wave of ads won’t be seen until July 15. SCEA declined to comment when contacted, but this was bound to happen at one point or another – and with the PS3 losing more and more ground to both the Xbox 360 and Wii each month, something needed to be done.
Assuming this pans out, this puts quite a bit of pressure on Microsoft; the Xbox 360 Elite is still $479.99 and lacks many of the features the PS3 has, such as a Blu-ray player (the Elite doesn’t even have an HD-DVD player) and built-in Wi-Fi.
Well, I’m certainly glad I haven’t plopped down the $600 just yet. And only about five hours ago I was contemplating gathering the cash to pick one up. This price drop leads me to wonder, though – will the 20GB SKU see a return, meaning that there would be a $399.99 PS3? Or will Sony launch a new SKU with a larger hard drive? We’ll know next week when Sony holds its press conference at E3.
Read More | GameDaily BIZ
Owners of the Xbox 360’s HD-DVD add-on will be the recipients of a new auto-update next time they try watching a movie while connected to Xbox Live. The new additions (tweaks, really) are minor, but the more improvements, the better. Those without access to Xbox Live will be able to download the update from Xbox.com later this week.
The list of improvements:
- Added option for user to select from the following audio output formats via TOSLINK or HDMI: -Digital Stereo (2 channel PCM) -Dolby Digital 5.1 -DTS 5.1 -WMA Pro
- Added “Dynamic Range Control” toggle for digital audio output
- Improved HD DVD networking support
- Improved HD DVD title compatibility
- Improved performance with MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
- 1080p via HDMI is supported on the Xbox 360 Elite with HDCP compliant displays
- Improved parental controls
Read More | Major Nelson
With all this talk of PS3s, 360s, and Wiis going around, it’s easy to forget that there’s also a next-gen video format war going on - one which will likely have severe repercussions for either Sony or M$. Well, the latest shot in the High-def disc format war has been fired, and this time it’s mega-retailer Wal-Mart that may help tip the scales in HD-DVD’s favor (or at least give Blu-Ray something to worry about).
This week, Wal-Mart announced that they would be producing and distributing an HD-DVD player that well be the cheapest available, coming in at around $199-$299. I haven’t spent much time in Wal-Marts (I find them noisy, messy, and crowded when compare to other retailers… oh, and generally evil). So I’ve got to ask… is Wal-Mart really a place where you want to pick up your next piece of high-end (or at least, moderate-end) electronics? My impression was that most of the folks who shop there probably aren’t too tuned-in to the next-gen DVD formats, and may not even own an HDTV set to take advantage of such hardware. Still, perhaps the lure of a ridiculously cheap HD player will pull a few bargain-hunting techno-fiends towards their blue glow. And hey wait, while we’re on the topic shouldn’t Target be the one promoting HD-DVD (think: slick red cases!), and Wal-Mart be the one promoting Blu-Ray? That would make much more chromatic sense, at least.
Read More | IGN.com
The latest shot in the HD-DVD / Blu-Ray battle has been fired, this time coming from Oblivion developer Bethesda Software. According to the developers of the game, the Blu-Ray drive data rates are slower than those on, for instance, the Xbox-360’s DVD drive. Says Todd Howard at Bethesda:
“Drive speed matters more to me [than capacity], and Blu-ray is slower.”
What does this mean? Well, in general, longer load times and more cacheing to the harddrive. In fact, in order to get Oblivion to load on the PS3 as fast as it does on the Xbox-360, Bethesda duplicated key data from the game, storing it on multiple places in the disc to lower access times. There’s no word on how much of the code was duplicated, but it still seems to go against Sony’s message that developers need 50GB of storage space. It sounds like, if the drive were faster, the HD-DVD standard of ~30GB / disc could be adequate.
Read More | Gameworld Network
NPD continues to report on holiday sales data; this time the research firm tells Next Generation that the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive has sold 92,000 units since launch. The numbers break down into 42,000 in November and 50,000 in December, or roughly 2 percent of the Xbox 360 install base. With Microsoft claiming that the HD-DVD drive is selling out at retail, this would suggest either that Microsoft is having a hard time producing units or that they are limiting drive production for some other reason. While the HD-DVD drive competes with Sony’s Blu-Ray format, the Xbox 360 add-on might also be seeing competition from the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Even though users can only rent HD movies via the service, owners of the Xbox 360 premium system don’t have to pay out for additional hardware. Every PS3 comes with a Blu-Ray drive, so total sales for that format look good, but one will have to look at movie sales rates to get a true indication of the relative popularity of the competing formats.
Read More | Next Generation