Delay for Warner HD-DVDs?

Delay for Warner HD-DVDs?

John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
It's likely that HD-DVD early adopters won't have any high-def discs to watch when the players become available on March 28. That's the word from retailing giant Wal-Mart and Warner Home Video, as reported in a couple of interesting stories highlighted by the enthusiast DVD Web site The Digital Bits. Trade publication Video Business is reporting that Wal-Mart's Web site is no longer taking preorders for the discs. A quick Google search seems to confirm that assertion: you can find several first-gen HD-DVD titles (such as Million Dollar Baby, Training Day, and GoodFellas). Clicking through yields a Product Not Found page, but the always handy "&hl="en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5&client=firefox-a&siteId=&ontId=&tag=blog">Google cache indicates they were previously available (only $25.48!).

Home Media Retailing follows up with more information. According to an article dated Sunday, March 12, Warner Home Video division president Ron Sanders is quoted as saying, "[Warner] is still coming out with an initial slate, but we may be a week or two later; we just don't know." The article goes on to mention that Wal-Mart and Best Buy pulled ads for HD-DVD titles because of the indeterminate delivery dates and because Warner has yet to set a suggested retail price for the discs. The bottom line is that the first HD-DVD player, the $799 Toshiba HD-XA1, is still on track to hit stores on March 28--but buyers may be stuck using it to play standard DVDs for at least a couple of weeks, until Warner and other studios shore up plans for the initial wave of titles.

In more positive HD-DVD news, Netflix is making good on its promise to support the nascent high-def optical disc format. We were able to verify a report on Hackingnetflix.com (linked on digg.com) that Netflix users can toggle their account to receive the HD-DVD versions of movies they choose--when and if, of course, HD-DVD versions are available. Netflix plans on supporting Blu-ray discs as well, once they become available later in the spring.

We're working on a quick guide to HD-DVD and Blu-ray that should be up by the end of the week. In the meantime, let us know if this latest news has you leaning toward HD-DVD or Blu-ray--or if you'll be sticking with good ol' DVD in the meantime.