Toshiba Figures Out The Hard Way That People Don't Want Overpriced, Locked Down Next-Gen DVD Players

from the DOA dept

It's been pretty obvious from the outset that the next generation of DVD formats were doomed to failure without significant changes. What wasn't for consumers to like? Two competing standards, but both featuring restrictive copy protection (though it's really proving typically ineffective) and high prices. Given the fact that standard DVD players deliver good enough picture quality for many people (even if they have an HD television) and both players and content are readily and cheaply available, it's hardly surprising that Toshiba has sliced its sales forecast for HD DVD players, even as HDTV sales remain strong. The company brags that it's got a 60 percent share of the North American market for next-generation DVD players, which is nice and all, but adds that now expects to only sell 1 million of them in the region this year, down from earlier predictions of 1.8 million in calendar 2007, and 3 million in the fiscal year ending in March 2008. The company's trying to flog an unattractive product using a seriously flawed strategy, and until it delivers some changes, sales aren't going to pick up.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    mc, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:09pm

    I don't buy any of new next-gen format because I just started my dvd collection of all good movies going back to 80 to now, because theres new format cost more than normal dvd I have shell more cash and start new collection? hell no. dvd quality look good enough for me.

     

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  2.  
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    Buzz, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    HA!

    The leap from VHS to DVD was an amazing one. DVDs are digital (as the acronym suggests), so the picture quality never fades over time. We don't have to rewind DVDs. DVDs take up less space in storage and are easily compatible with computers. DVDs offer menus and easter eggs. What's not to like?

    Then, along comes the HDDVD and Blu-ray Disc. I promised myself I would skip this media generation. I am waiting for the true next-generation leap: DRM-free Video-on-Demand! The "next generation DVD" formats require fresh new equipment for a less-than-stellar upgrade in picture quality. For now, I'll stick with the 'inferior' DVD.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Brian, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    I'll be honest...I finally purchased a HD-DVD player add-on for my X-Box 360. Format was contingent upon what format Discovery Channel's Planet Earth was released on (praying all the while that it wasn't Blu-Ray only but I would have bit the bullet). That being said, I love it but only find it marginally appealing. Action movies and panoramic movies great--40 Year Old Virgin and 50 First Dates (for example) do't benefit enough by being in HD. I've even replaced some of my older DVD titles (about 15 of 950) but it's so damn expensive it makes kittens cry. I haven't paid over $19.95 yet by using Amazon, Target and eBay...but with some discs approaching $40, it just makes me wonder what they're thinking. Drop em all to $19.95 like DVDs and I'm all in. I can't imagine that it actually costs too much more to produce them. As everyone has said...by the time they realize this both formats will be nearing obsolesence. My two cents.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Tyler, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:19pm

    Overpriced? HD DVD player for $249.00: HD DVD Player 249.99 @ Costco B&M

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    Re: HA!

    Exactly like you said DVDs are Digital and capable of "almost" HD quality, plus you can get an upconvert HDMI DVD player that increases their quality even more, so why try and gamble on 1 format that might be gone in a year when what's already available works.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Buzz, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    Ummm...

    Overpriced? $250 HD DVD player versus $50 DVD player? $40 HD DVD versus $20 DVD? The answer is YES. Final answer.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    o_O I see no good reason to drop a few hundred bucks on a HD disc player.

    The DVD format is fine for me. I know it, I can count on a friend having a player, and there are a million tools I can use for it.

    What do the HD formats offer? They are expensive and restrict what I can do with the discs I purchase (for now, anyway ;-)), but they do offer higher resolution.... Not enough for me.

    Jesus. Even pr0n isn't enough to make me think about buying a HD player. (For the cost of a HD player, I can actually take a girl out - to a place good enough to practically guarantee me a a good chance at scorin'! w00t!)

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Java, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Pricing is a matter of volume. There is nothing inherrent in the HD DVD technology that makes it more expensive. Once volume picks up, prices on the players and the content will drop to similar prices of DVD players today.

    It was not that long ago that people were paying $200 for a regular DVD player. However, as demand rose, prices came down.

    The same thing will happen here.

    As for multiple formats (HD DVD vs. Blu Ray), soon this won't matter. Several vendors are planning on dual format players that can handle either format.

    What will choose the winner is content. Both formats have a similar amount of content available. Both have about the same amount of studio's supporting them.

    However, HD DVD has the adult film industry support. That may be enough to push them into the lead.

    Many people may not be aware of this, but DVD's did not really take off until the adult film industry started supporting it. Same was true of VHS vs. Beta. Adult film industry support propelled VHS to the forefront.

    Over time though, none of this may even matter since downloadable content is growing in popularity. There is still some work to do, but just like iTunes and other downloadable sites are transforming the music industry, downloadable movies may transform how we access our content.

    Combine that with new h/w coming out like the Alienware Hangar 18 box or STB's with internet connectivity and HDMI support, we may find that we don't need to support a specific player in the home. These boxes could deliver the content directly to the screen instead of buying specific media.

    There is still some work to resolve the content distribution model, but over time it could replace physical media all together.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    James, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:47pm

    Dead on

    They knew the weak copy protection in DVD's was cracked along time ago. Answer? Create a new heavily crippled version and sell it for 3x the price.

    Idiots. Its nice that most are refusing to play along.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    wifezilla, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 12:52pm

    All you have to do....

    All you have to do is look at the "winner" of the video game system wars. The lowly Wii.

    There is a point of diminishing return on graphics and dvd resolution. And with all the crap being offered by Hollywood lately, do we really need to see it at high res?!?!

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Paul, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    Blueray VS HD-DVD

    Whichever one is cheaper will win.

    If Sony was smart they would drop the price of a Blueray player down to $100 bucks, people would snatch them up like hotcakes

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    donghuapian, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    The DVD format is fine for me. thanks.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    C.G., Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:27pm

    Re:

    As demand grows, prices increase - especially if supply is constant or decreases.

     

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  14.  
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    sehlat, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    sehlat, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Blueray VS HD-DVD

    After the CD rootkit incident, Sony's off my "buy" list. Period. Price point doesn't matter.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    C.G., Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:45pm

    DRM has nothing to do with player prices

    While DVD is fine for most (myself included), it is not DRM that's holding HD back. Its a pure supply/demand equation. Right now, demand isn't high for these devices so supply is limited. And because the volume discounts can't be achieved., the prices remain high. As supply increases, you will reach an equilibrium price - just like VHS and DVD before it. But supply will only increase when demand forecasts reflect that future growth.

    So many things could be holding HD back. Limited HD content (compared to SD or ED); limited HD TVs out there; and compitition from other sources of entertainment - something Tech Dirt has mentioned before (and not just on video).

    While I agree that DRM is bad for lots of reasons, it is not what is keeping the formats from taking hold. The DVD format didn't catch on because of DeCSS, remember. Most people just don't understand what DRM means to their viewing experience yet like we, in the tech fields, do.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    rob, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    RE:

    HD-DVD and Blueray don't really offer that siginificant of an improvment to justify the extra cash just to watch movies. You forget though, that these new mediums will offer far superior storage to even double layered DVDs and have many potential, practical, applications in the computer field.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:27pm

    Re:

    Overpriced? HD DVD player for $249.99
    When you can get something that's nearly as good for one tenth the price, yes it's overpriced.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:37pm

    I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but where I live, you can't go to the store and buy HD-DVDs or Blue Ray discs. Until they are available, there aren't going to be many player sales.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    kebagami, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:38pm

    Killer App

    The Matrix came out on DVD and that was a catalyst....any idea what the HD DVD or Blu-Ray equivilent would be?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Nick, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    It doesn't have take a genius to figure that out.

    I never finish College and collect the degree and all. Who would want to pay four to ten times more than the current DVD player that you have.
    Drop the price and give us Combo then I'll get one for myself. This way I know that mine won't be obsolete within a year or two.
    Price is the major factor of their slow public acceptance at the moment.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Killer App

    "The Matrix came out on DVD and that was a catalyst....any idea what the HD DVD or Blu-Ray equivilent would be?"

    The filming of the death of the MAFIAA?? I'd buy HD-DVD to watch THAT!! Otherwise I'm not buying into it.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lord, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 3:31pm

    Time is passing for both

    How many people ever look at anything more than a time or two? Physical media will give way to downloading on demand.

    Now what really is needed is an HD-DVR without subscription. Tivos are nice but outrageous. Capitalize $17/month at 5% and you are talking over $4000. Insane.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Shun, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    Agree and Disagree

    @Java : volume has an effect on price, but I would tend to think that the reason that HD formats are so expensive is the royalty stack. Just how are the companies supposed to recoup their massive development costs without charging an arm and a leg?

    I agree with you on this point : porn will decide the winner of the format wars.

    Personally, I couldn't care less. It's VHS v. Betamax all over again. How boring.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Time is passing for both

    I've watched THX 1138 more times than I can count.

    Got it on Beta, VHS, DVD (special/dexlue/whatever the hell the expensive edition is called), and DivX.

    Oh, and Kubrick's movies. Love those and watched 'em (most of 'em, anyway) more times than I can count.

    But, yeah, your point is correct... most of the time. :-)

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Patriot, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:12pm

    DVD over 50

    Hell, I'm over 50 and have trouble reading my watch. HDDVD won't look a damned bit better than my DVD collection....and I dare say that probably goes for most my age....and it comes up fast.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Patriot, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:12pm

    DVD over 50

    Hell, I'm over 50 and have trouble reading my watch. HDDVD won't look a damned bit better than my DVD collection....and I dare say that probably goes for most my age....and it comes up fast.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    MoFinWiley, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:20pm

    Streaming HD

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Agree and Disagree

    Most of porn is already in the HD-DVD camp. While there has been some productions in the BlueRay format outside of Sony, Sony has said that they don't want to be in the porn business, so that leaves out BlueRay.

    http://www.cnettv.com/9710-1_53-25822.html

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    MoFinWiley, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:42pm

    Streaming HD

    Streaming HD content is a pipe dream for now. As much as some of you believe there is "not that much difference between SD and HD", there is quite a difference in required bandwidth.

    In a bitrate locked environment HD content is roughly 4x the data content of SD....

    Now think about broadcast SD, where they most often times scimp on bitrate to maximize the number of channels.

    You CANT do that with HD...The minimum bitrates for HD are HIGH.

    The switch to HD in the streaming/broadcast market is so /diffivcult/costly on SOOO many levels, it would take many paragraphs to explain correctly.

    One of the biggest issues is storage of content...for one SCHEDULED (NOT ON DEMAND) feed it takes a very expensive broadcast system..

    That is why most HD content you see on you TV is live or delayed.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Todd, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Overpriced

    Just to put it in perspective, standard, non-progressive scan, non dts DVD players were $249 for a cheap one when I bought my first player.

    No, I haven't purchased a next gen player, but price isn't the issue for me. It's compatability. I'm not in the market for a new TV just yet, and my 2 current HDTVs don't have HDMI.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Bill, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Toshiba HD DVD Player

    I bought one and the only movie that appealed to me.
    To use the unit I had to do a twenty minute software update. It would not play the movie even with the latest software.
    I waited to Monday to get tech support and their answer "it will not work and we do not know when the player will play the movie"
    So I took it back. This was about May 1.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 7:06pm

    DVD is fine

    As has been said, the jump from VHS to DVD was huge - far better picture and sound, no chroma noise, no degredation over time, no tapes being eaten... it was a quantum leap.

    HD DVD is just more resolution, and at TVs under 60 inches the difference really is neglibable. Really, you need a projector and a 10 foot screen to really see a big difference.

    And that being said, I HAVE a projector and a 10 foot screen and DVDs are nice and sharp. My friend went hi def, and when I watch movies at his place, yes, it looks better. But when I go home and watch a DVD, do I have HD envy? No. My picture may not be as good as HD, but that does not make it bad. It still looks crisp and sharp and has great color fidelity.

    That is why people are not flocking to the expense of HD.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 7:34pm

    Two issues here.

    There are two problems(?) here.

    One, DVD quality is good enough or more than that for most people. Even with your large wide screen LCD TV, DVD's have enough resolution for incredible detail. Unless you sit 9 inches away from the screen, looking at pixel level rendering, you're not going to see a difference with HD/BluRape.

    Second problem, the format war. Who will win is anyone's guess. You go and get 100 HD-DVD's and next year the format is obsolete. You can't sue anyone or get your money back.

    This circus by the media industry and mega-corps is just hurting them. I, with most of my buddies and family friends have no intention of getting HD/BR any time. What are we going to do with our 200-250 DVD collection? Burn them?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 8:07pm

    Re:

    Pricing is a matter of volume.
    Bzzzt! Pricing is a matter of what the market will bear. If they can make them for $0.50 and sell them for $40 then they will.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Craig, Jun 14th, 2007 @ 1:18am

    I've even replaced some of my older DVD titles (ab

    Impressive?
    So you've spent the better part of $19000 on movies you've most probably watched only once (and there are very few movies that anyone would watch more than 4 times). Think about it, just hiring each of these for $5 each would have saved you close on $14000 (and thats still factoring a few repeats in there). I know how I would spend my money and still have change for the latest and greatest equipment. But then again, what price do you put to your unwatched wall of video brag factor? ;-)

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2007 @ 4:25am

    Price matters. Sony lost out on the video cassette recorder market because Betamax systems cost three or four times what VHS players cost (when VHS players were still fairly expensive) and the tapes were more expensive. Digital Audio Tape didn't catch on either because there was no clear advantage over the CD format except for record capability and that wasn't reason enough to shell out $1000 when at the time good CD players cost less than $100.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Jun 14th, 2007 @ 6:01am

    Re: DVD over 50

    Get some glasses old man!

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    John Smith, Jun 14th, 2007 @ 9:54am

    Next gen players/bluray is just the latest attempt to jerk money from consumers. The pc industry is doing this on a daily basis. Vista, bluray, and DRM can suck wind in hell. I don't like cd's OR dvd's as they are nothing but vulnerable pieces of cheap plastic which have to rely on slow mechanical devices. I don't give a flying fark what they advertise. Just think about it: How much of this plastic garbage is the world willing to eat?

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Jun 14th, 2007 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Agree and Disagree

    Asian dudes who DON'T want to be in the pr0n biz?

    You're shattering my stereotype of the horny Asian businessman! NOOO! :-P

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Patrick, Jun 18th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    HD DVD

    Once you watch an hd dvd then go back and watch SD DVD's there is a huge difference, more of a difference than VHS to DVD on an HDTV, with HD DVD players cheaper than some DVD players i'm not sure why people are complaining of high prices, the movies are mostly 20 bucks a pop too, that being said blue ray is more than twice as much. While downloadable moves and such have there niche in the market place, there is simply nothing like owning your own physical copy of some thing you can take with you and watch with friends.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Kentucky Hillbilly, Jun 19th, 2007 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Blueray VS HD-DVD

    I agree. Sony has tried to push their proprietary hardware for
    years. I used to work for a cable company and the MAC addresses on Sony laptops didn't even begin with 00. It played havoc with the crappy network my company had built. I think they also renamed firewire ports to iLink.

     

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