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Toshiba defends HD DVD: Major price cut ahoy

If you've been waiting for a price reduction before jumping into the next-generation DVD format punch-up now could be your chance as Tosh drops the cost of the HD-E1

Let's start with some wallet-pleasing news. Toshiba's entry-level HD DVD player, the HD-E1, is dropping in price from £450 to £350. This leaves room for the new HD-EP10 to jump in at the £450 price point. The top-of-the-range HD-XE1 remains unchanged at £650, with no drop in price planned.

The reduction on the E1 comes at an interesting time. Until now, in the UK there has been easier access to HD DVD hardware at a sensible price than there has Blu-ray gear. That's all changed with the launch of the PlayStation 3, which at £425 would have been cheaper than the E1 prior to this price snip. Clearly, without a significant discount the E1 would look very poor value in comparison to the PS3.

Even with the PS3 getting a strong start in the UK Toshiba isn't looking too worried. It expects to sell around 1.8 million players in the US this year. It also claims there are over 300 titles available on the format now, a figure that should rise to over 1,000 by the end of this year. Toshiba reckons the average number of discs bought for each HD DVD player is around 28 -- so far. It also claims that 40 per cent of people who own a player buy a new HD DVD each week.

Then there's the porn, which Sony doesn't want on its pristine Blu-ray format, even though it was a significant factor in the success of VHS all those years ago. These days, Crave suspects that the Internet, mobile phones and other methods of getting adult material will make this a less significant win for HD DVD.

There are also new features promised on the existing players. Following on from Sony's announcement last week that it will be pushing the movie-tastic 24p format on its first European Blu-ray player and its new range of televisions, Toshiba announced it will be adding 24p support via a firmware upgrade. The other good news is that its entire 2007 range of televisions will also support the 24p system. -IM