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The week of HD DVD: Toshiba cuts prices on players

If the news that Paramount and Dreamworks are exclusively supporting HD DVD wasn't enough to persuade you to pick up a next-gen player, Toshiba is hoping that some hefty hardware price cuts will do the trick

Earlier this week we commented on the decision by Paramount and Dreamworks to switch to HD DVD exclusively, instead of continuing dual-format support. This was seen by some as a bit of a victory for the HD DVD camp, even if it did cost them a rumoured $150m. Now we have word that Toshiba is cutting the cost of its hardware -- again.

Of the three HD DVD players in the range, two are getting a price cut. The HD-E1 is dropping from a recommended price of £349 down to £249. The EP-10, which offers the addition of 1080p support, is also coming down in price -- from £449 to £339. The top-of-the-range HD-XE1 isn't getting a price reduction -- it still costs £649 -- but it does have the advantage of analogue audio out and HDMI 1.3.

Of course, those are the recommended retail prices and you can probably find a bargain if you hunt around -- we've seen the HD-E1 for just £180 and the  EP-10 for £250 on, and that includes delivery. Interestingly, both are out of stock. Is this because people are flocking in their droves to buy players in anticipation of Transformers being available on the format?

The only problem we can see here is apathy. It's all very well having lots of movie studio support and cheap hardware, but until you can persuade the public that HD DVD is something they need, there is never going to be much more than a niche market for these things. A format war never helps public confidence, either, especially for a generation of people who were stung by the VHS vs Betamax format punch-up.

There is also one more part to this announcement that makes it all the more compelling. Apparently, if you buy an X Series Toshiba TV, such as the Regza 37X3030D, you'll get an HD-E1 for free. That's a deal we like the sound of, and it certainly won't do much harm to the market penetration of HD DVD hardware. -Ian Morris