By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Toshiba is offering up to 10 free HD DVD movies to consumers who buy an HD DVD player before the end of the year as the format fights back against similar initiatives launched by the Blu-ray Consortium.

The company has announced that from today until 31 December, consumers who buy the flagship Toshiba HD-EX1 HD player (RRP $1,299) will receive one HD DVD movie in the box and 10 free via redemption, including World Trade Centre, Dream Girls, Black Rain, U2 Rattle & Hum, Norbit, The Holiday, Miami Vice, Hulk, Fast & the Furious Tokyo Drift and American Werewolf in London.

Pioneer gained a significant foothold in the DVD market years ago when it offered a similar promotion with five free movies and five free rentals, and Toshiba is no doubt trying to do the same with the fledgling HD DVD format.

Free Hollywood movies are also available with the brand’s cheaper players.

The Toshiba HD-E1 HD DVD player (RRP $599) – which actually costs consumers $499 after Toshiba’s $100 cash back, offer but will only output 1080i video – will come with one film in the box and an extra three titles available by redemption: The Holiday, Miami Vice and Hulk.

Toshiba’s mid-range player, the HD-EP10 (RRP $7,99), now comes with one HD DVD movie in the box but gives consumers the chance to redeem five films: World Trade Centre, Dream Girls, Black Rain, U2 Rattle & Hum, and Norbit.

“Following competitive price drops and the initial HD DVD redemption offer, the HD DVD Consortium sees this promotion as a natural evolution of bringing HD DVD to market – and Christmas is the perfect time of year to be enjoying home entertainment at its best,” said Toshiba Australia AV product manager – DVD, Francois Spina.

“Again, consumers will be the winners as they can now add popular Paramount and Universal movies in HD DVD’s amazing clarity and detail to their collections.”

One-upmanship seems the order of the day in the high definition optical disc format war, with HD DVD and Blu-ray camps both announcing a series of price cuts and free movie offers during the last few weeks to entice consumers to their format this Christmas.

The Blu-ray Consortium recently announced that consumers who buy any Blu-ray player from brands including Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony and Sharp will be able to choose one free movie from each major Hollywood studio backing the format.

Last month, Toshiba announced a price cut across its HD DVD player range along with $100 cash back, taking the entry-level HD-E1 with 1080i output to $499 with cash back.

The offer put Blu-ray on the back foot, but Sony responded quickly, announcing a price cut of its own last week when it slashed the RRP of its entry-level Blu-ray player to $799.

Toshiba’s new promotion may be a good test of HD DVD’s marketability, given that Sharp recently reported a big boost in Blu-ray player sales when it repositioned the price of its entry-level BD-HP20X to RRP $699 and offered eight free movies via redemption.

The company sold out of stock immediately due to strong sell-in and said it had back orders until the end of the year.
According to Toshiba’s press statement released today, the offer has been formulated in conjunction with the HD DVD Consortium, which since its inception in July this year has aggressively promoted HD DVD against a very vocal Blu-ray Consortium made up of the majority of major consumer electronics makers.

The HD DVD Consortium includes the likes of Microsoft and Intel and was formed to coordinate the format’s assault on the Australian market.