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Toshiba HD DVD: Waiting in vain?

Darn it. The eagerly awaited release of Toshiba's HD DVD players has been delayed by another month. Crave is not best pleased

In the latest of a series of delays afflicting next-generation high definition devices, there could be more hope of seeing the Second Coming than Toshiba's long-awaited HD DVD player this Christmas.

Our faith had already been tested when the previously delayed April release was set back to the end of this year. The standard HD-E1 (£470) model was supposed to be hitting the shelves as we write, followed by the higher-spec HD-XE1 (£700) in mid-December. But, barring an act of divine intervention, it seems as though Crave is going to have to wait at least another month.

That means it's unlikely that even JC himself will be able to celebrate his birthday by unwrapping an HD DVD player on Christmas Day. And the reason?

Apparently, during final production testing of the HD-E1, Toshiba engineers found a minor reliability issue related to an outsourced LSI component -- effectively passing the buck. The sinful component will now be replaced before the delayed release in the UK and Europe.

In a statement oiled with optimism, Toshiba claims that the HD-E1 will arrive at an unconfirmed date in mid-December. These changes have unsurprisingly affected the manufacturing schedule of the HD-EX1 1080p version, which will now not arrive before January 2007.

The exact quantity of units being shipped is still unknown, so even if the first batch does arrive on time, it's unlikely that everyone will be able to get their hands on one.

It's another blow for HD DVD in the battle being waged between high-definition formats and eager enthusiasts could be swayed towards paying a higher premium (£1,000) for already available Blu-ray players. (Read our reviews of the Samsung BD-P1000 and the Panasonic DMP-BD10.) -RA