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Monday, April 23, 2007

Wal-Mart And The Mysterious HD Player

Continue with coverage of the format war - let's pose the question ... who is arguably more powerful than porn when it comes to selling movies?

Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is like a commercial nation all of its own. Remember that the big controversy stemming from getting the dreaded "AO" rating for games comes not even really from being pulled from Best Buy - but from the big W.

So when Wal-Mart decides to make a deal for a super cheap high definition player, someone's format is going to get a big boost.

But whose?

Although the news was initially pegged as a huge boost to the HD DVD camp, closer examination and more accurate translation of Chinese reports indicate that the players for Wal-Mart are “Blu-ray (or blue light) HD DVD” players, adding an extra layer of confusion to the matter. Both next-generation optical formats use blue or violet lasers, so unless the player is to be compatible with both HD DVD and Blu-ray, the exact nature of this low-priced will be unknown until we get official English confirmation.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Mellissa O’Brien would not comment on the apparent deal between the retailer and its Chinese manufacturing partners, but did offer to Home Media Magazine, “[Most] of the shoppers asking about and purchasing either Blu-ray or HD DVD are already pretty savvy technically about both — they are the kind of consumer that absolutely wants the very best and latest in quality that's available. It's not quite yet a product the average shopper is attune too, but we anticipate that will change very soon as prices continue to come down.”
-- Sub-$300 HD Movie Players En Route From Wal-Mart [DailyTech]

Sony could really use a $299 model as Toshiba has already released a $399 player and the 20GB PS3 - the former budget method for getting into Blu-Ray - is being dropped. Course, if this is a Blu-Ray player, a deal like this might have factored into dropping the line. Remember I assumed a price cut of some kind would follow suit with cutting the 20GB from the sku line, I might have just been off by a hemisphere on what kind.

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