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HD DVD Consumers Set To Be Left With Dead End Player

By David Richards | Sunday | 17/02/2008

Tens of thousands of consumers who purchased a HD DVD player, some costing over $1,500, could be asking for their money back after news leaked that Toshiba are set to pull the plug on the format.

For consumers that own a HD DVD player the problem is going to be content with movie makers and distributors along with retailers deserting the format for Blu-ray. The problem for retailers and vendors who sold the HD DVD devices did so on the basis that they would be able to play the latest movies in High Definition. However very few if any Hollywood studios will be cutting HD DVD movies.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Fair Trading said: "This is a curly one. If a consumer has been sold a product on the basis that it will play HD DVD movies and there are no movies available there may be a problem. However as there are HD DVD movies available now the issue is a difficult one to indicate which way the department would act if we got a complaint. Todate there have been no complaints about HD DVD sales."

Last week the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart abandoned the flailing HD DVD format, potentially ending a war over next-generation DVDs as it joined Best Buy and Netflix in supporting rival Blu-ray technology. It is also exepected that Harvey Norman will quit selling HD DVD this week.

Toshiba executives have conceded that the war with the Sony owned Blu ray is almost over with the company tipped to make an announcement on the future of the HD DVD format by the end of the month. However several Hollywood studios have said that the war is already won by Blu-ray.

The format war between Toshiba Corp-backed HD DVD and Sony Corp's Blu-ray, often compared to the Betamax-VHS battle in the 1980s, has slowed the development of what is expected to be a multibillion dollar high-definition DVD industry.

It also has been a thorn in the side of retailers, which have had to commit shelf space to devices from both camps even as they field complaints from customers frustrated that some films come out in HD DVD while others are released in Blu-ray.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, announced the move as a phase-out at 4,000 U.S. Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores by June, saying it was responding to consumer preference.

Wal-mart's on-staff movie and gaming blogger put the future of HD DVD in stark terms.

"So ... if you bought the HD player like me, I'd retire it to the bedroom, kid's playroom, or give it to your parents to play their John Wayne standard def movies, and make space for a BD (Blu-ray disc) player for your awesome Hi Def experience," Wal-Mart blogger Susan Chronister wrote in a posting.

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