Toshiba HD DVD players won’t make Christmas

By Sarah Falson

MELBOURNE: Blu-ray disc players will reign this Christmas with Toshiba announcing the launch if its rival HD DVD player will be delayed to January from its original anticipated release date of 10 December.

According to Toshiba distributor, Castel Electronics’ product manager, Paul Astbury, an unspecified internal hardware piece in the HD-E1, manufactured by an external supplier, needs to be replaced before the player is fit for marketplace distribution.

“It’s completely beyond our control. Toshiba was not happy with the picture quality when some of the titles were played back, and since they are such perfectionists they preferred to delay the release until after Christmas and get it right, rather than release before Christmas with a product that was not to their satisfaction,” he said this afternoon.

HD DVD and Blu-ray next generation disc players are expected to battle it out for top honours in high definition home theatre systems over the coming year. Blu-ray disc players from Panasonic and Samsung are already on the market.

Astbury told last month that he is confident the HD DVD format will win-out over Blu-ray, as “the ease of adoption for companies is simpler with HD DVD. HD DVD is a completely logical successor to DVD – it slips into DVD’s place like a hand into a glove.”

The entry-level Toshiba HD-E1 (RRP $1099) will now be available some time in early January, and the premium-model Toshiba HD-EX1 (RRP $1599) is still on track for a February release, according to Astbury.

Astbury seemed unconcerned that Toshiba’s HD-E1 will miss the crucial Christmas selling period.

“Yes, we’ll miss Christmas, but it’s only one Christmas,” he said.

Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers and Paramount will each be representing HD DVD with optical discs to support Toshiba’s players.

Representatives from the three companies were not available for comment this afternoon, though has heard unconfirmed reports that the sale of HD DVD titles will not be delayed to match the release of the Toshiba HD-E1 player, but instead will remain on retail shelves, on schedule, in time for Christmas.

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