A recent online poll conducted in April by research firm Harris Interactive has revealed some home theater-related oddities. Notably, that sales of HD DVD players in 2009 are up by roughly the same amount as the high-def format war winner Blu-ray. 11% of Americans own an HD DVD player in 2009 compared to only 6% in 2008. Surprisingly only 7% of Americans own a Blu-ray player in 2009 compared to 4% in 2008. If you factor in the 9% of Americans that now own a Playstation 3 and 3% that own an HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, the two HD formats are still close to even. Moreover, the survey indicates that interest in Blu-ray isn't going to pick up anytime soon--unless prices come way down. Only 7% of non-Blu-ray owners reported an intent to purchase a Blu-ray player in the next year.
HDTV ownership on the other hand continues to move skyward--47% of Americans now claim to own an HDTV compared to only 35% in May 2008.
If you're living in the United States and had the misfortune of betting on HD DVD way back when Warner decided to jump ship for Blu-ray and destroy the red team entirely, we have some good news for you. Warner, apparently suffering a crisis of conscience, has launched an online Red2Blu program that offers reduced prices for Blu-ray discs in exchange for proof of owning the identical HD DVD title. You'll just have to send in the original HD DVD sleeve, $4.95 for the Blu-ray title and shipping. So, yeah, you'll still have to pay about $10 for each title, but it's better than the $30 you'd pay otherwise.
Black Friday has come and gone, and despite concerns that retailers would face lower sales this year (some surely did) the overall numbers look good. Online traffic increased 11% from Black Friday 2007 according to research firm Pricegrabber.com. And overall revenues totaled $10.6 billion this year, a 3% increase over 2007.
Consumer electronics deals drove tons of people to purchase HDTV's and Blu-ray players online. In fact Blu-ray sales increased 147% from 2007 and Sony's BDP-S350 was the third most popular online product. While the HDTV market didn't see comparable growth, Samsung's LN52A650 LCD TV was the fourth most popular product online this year, followed by the Panasonic TH-42PX80U plasma in sixth.
If you're looking for true green innovation in the world of HDTV's than you don't have to look any further than Philips. Remember the Eco TV? After Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the name behind brands like Sheraton and Westin, realized that the average user of one its hotel rooms left their TV on for 6 to 8 hours per day, they decided to sign a 3-year deal worth up to $100 million with Philips. To, you guessed it, have over 80, 000 Philips SmartPower2 TV's as the Eco TV is known commercially, installed in their hotel rooms. Estimated to save Starwood more than $12 million over the expected 7 year lifespan of the equipment, the Eco TV installation will also cut energy consumption by 40% compared to the TV models currently in use.
This is supposedly the biggest 'green TV' deal to date, and impressive considering Philips is considered to be a second-tier home theater brand in our consumer world. Looks like the Netherlands-based company may have found a niche where they can be number one.
You have to admit, this is hilarious. Back at the end of 2007, we wrongly predicted that HD DVD would win the format war with Blu-ray based on price alone. We were wrong as all the major Hollywood studios threw backing behind Blu-ray killing HD DVD in the process...or did they. Thanks to an economic recession, not only in the United States but globally, HD DVD is rising from the dead. Sure, Blu-ray disc sales have increased 53% since HD DVD's demise but with Blu-ray prices still ridiculously expensive and HD DVD player prices dropping as low as $60, people are buying HD DVD again.
In fact Buy.com has sold 1 million HD DVD players since the format officially packed 'er in and expects to sell 2-3 million from now until Christmas. Okay, sure HD DVD doesn't have the recent title releases that Blu-ray does but the players still playback DVD's and until Blu-ray prices decrease the majority of us are happy with good ol' standard def.
Even though Toshiba's HD DVD died earlier this year after a futile format war with HD competitor Blu-ray, the company remains true to its HD DVD fans with a firmware 4.0 update. Devoted to solving playback issues such as 1080/24p jaggies with MPEG-4 AVC-encoded titles and basic operational issues such as fast forward and rewind halting, firmware 4.0 applies to HD DVD's entire lineup. Included models: HD-A1, HD-XA1, HD-D1, HD-A35, HD-A2, HD-A2W, HD-A2C, HD-D2, HD-A20, HD-XA2, HD-A3, HD-D3, and the HD-A30 and believe it or not, if you have any compatibility problems with the update you can always contact HD DVD Concierge for assistance at 1-888-MYHDDVD.
Although HD DVD died as a format earlier this year, today it'll officially see the end as the last HD DVD's will hit shelves in the US. Disco Pigs, an Irish flick, and Freedom: 6, an anime collection will hit shelves today; the last HD DVD's you'll ever see released in the US. If you're looking for a couple extra high-def DVD's to stick with your Beta collection, head over to Amazon where you'll find Disco Pigs for $21. The real question now is whether or not Blu-ray will ever hit the mainstream?
Toshiba's Q1 numbers for 2008 are in, and not only did they face big losses from eliminating the HD disc format, they've taken big losses again. A 95% year-over-year profit loss is sure to send shareholders running for the hills and that's exactly what happened when Toshiba announced profits of only 1.25 billion yen ($12 million) at the end of Q1, as compared to 26.17 billion yen last year. Shares in Toshiba were down 2% at market close yesterday, and much thanks to HD DVD, quarterly revenue dropped 3%, net profit dropped 7% and the company suffered a 60.2 billion yen ($580 million US) operating loss. The only consolation to Toshiba is a forecasted 2% increase in net profits by this time next year. I gotta say, Toshiba really looks to be playing it safe with such a conservative number.
We missed this a couple days back, but in case you haven't heard yet, the HD DVD Promotion Group officially dissolved and removed their website March 28. Navigating to their homepage now will only net you this letter:
With so much talk about Blu-ray's defeat of HD DVD in the HD disc format war lately, we just had to show you this cool 1975 promotional video for Sony's Betamax. If you're a hardcore videophile that can remember back to the 1970's and 1980's you'll remember the Betamax/VHS format war from which VHS emerged victorious. The only remnant left of Betamax now is the slang term "betamaxed" referring to a product with a relatively short shelf life. I guess HD DVD was betamaxed.
Interesting how Betamax marketed its product as a kind of TiVo of its generation.
The cost of the death of HD DVD to Toshiba isn't as high as the $986 million originally reported. Toshiba has announced officially that the expected HD DVD loss will be $665.5 million for the 2007 fiscal year ending March 31. This is close to double Toshiba's 2006 fiscal year loss from HD DVD of $348.1 million.
HD DVD isn't the only consumer electronics business from which Toshiba will take a hit. The company's projected operating loss from LCD is $122.8 million. Across all company units, the revised net income projection for the 2007 year ending March 31 is $1.28 billion, down from the original forecast of 1.84 billion, a 30.6% decrease.
Best Buy will be sending out $50 gift cards to the poor souls who were duped into buying the now-defunct HD DVD player before February 23, 2008. Of course, this only applies to HD DVD owners who bought the merchandise at Best Buy. If this describes you, you should be receiving the gift card automatically in the mail within the next few weeks, but if you haven't received your pity money by May 1 just call 1-888-BEST-BUY with your receipt or credit card statement.
This Friday you'll also be able to trade in your used HD DVD player at BestBuyTradeIn.com, probably netting you another $50 or so.
Toshiba's v2.0 firmware update, which enables 1080p24 output on the company's HD-A30 and HD-A35 HD DVD players, apparently causes jaggies when MPEG4/AVC discs are played in 1080p24. This is the same problem Toshiba had with the HD-XA2 update last September, but this time we're wondering if a fix will be provided. With HD DVD's demise, it may not be worth the time and money to develop and provide a patch for the flawed update-on Toshiba's part anyway. The company is already lost close to $1 billion to the failed HD disc format, so pissing off its remaining customers probably isn't in the company's best interests. A fix from Toshiba might not be completely necessary though, as the HD enthusiasts at the AVS Forum have already came up with a couple of workarounds for the problem.
Samsung still seems to be trying to revive their ailing BD-UP5000 HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player, even after the BD-UP5500 was canceled in part because of chronic compatibility issues and customer complaints with the BD-UP5000. With firmware update v1.2, Samsung aims to "fix the network connection error" inherent in the BD-UP5000 (if you own the model, give us some details in the comments). Samsung seems to be spending a lot of time and money doting of the player's fragile nature with firmware update v1.2 the second update in as many months. We just wonder if its worth it with HD DVD out of the picture.