The prices on HD-DVD players have started to move downwards at Amazon, with the HD-A3 model now priced at $99 and the HD-A30 at $129. The mail-in rebate for 5 free HD-DVDs expires on the 28th, so I assume that there will be further price reductions on the 29th, assuming they have the inventory. Both players come bundled with 300 and Bourne Identity, and I view the BBC Earth series as mandatory.
The question is, whether the extra $30 for the A30 is worth it. The primary difference is that the A30 supports 1080p output, whereas the A3 only does 720p/1080i. My intended use for this player is primarily as an upscaler for my standard DVD collection (and NetFlix), for an HDTV I have yet to buy (normal upscaling DVD players cost around $50-$70 anyway). Standard DVDs are 480p. As long as the HDTV unit supports 720p as a native resolution (which it should, regardless of whether I buy a HDTV capable of 1080p or just 1080i), then the 720p output of the A3 is all I will ever need, right? Even if I want to watch my HD-DVD discs at 1080i, few though they presumably will be, will I even be able to tell the difference between it and 1080p?
I can see myself in a similar quandary later when I decide whether to buy a HDTV at 1080p or not. I could just settle for 1080i as my maximum across the board and simplify things. I’d appreciate any suggestions or information regarding the matter, if you all have any.
Highly relevant reading: a piece at the NYT in which they talk to the founder of the Abt Electronics chain. In a nutshell, Blu-ray just isn’t a value proposition right now.
â€œMost people are happy just buying a better DVD player, instead of spending $350 or $400 for Blu-ray,â€ Mr. Abt said. â€œAn upconverting DVD for $79 is a great value. It has a great picture, really better than an old DVD. You really see a difference.â€
What about all the people who bought HD DVD players, prompted by Toshibaâ€™s aggressive price cuts? Mr. Abt hopes he can at least partially mitigate their anger and frustration by pointing out how well the players can display standard DVDs.
â€œWe have a lot of people who bought HD DVD players in the last few months,â€ he said. â€œWe are going to communicate with them: you have an upconverting DVD player, enjoy it. You paid $150 for it, so you didnâ€™t lose too much.â€
And of course, we have less than a year to go before the digital switchover.
UPDATE: HD-DVD players in retailer inventory are now being described as “upscaling DVD players with HD-DVD playback“.