The HD DVD Promotional Group says 100,000 HD DVD players have been sold since the introduction of the format to the North American market a year ago. That figure doesn't include HD DVD drives in PCs or ones sold as Xbox 360 accessories, either.
HD DVD, backed by Toshiba, Microsoft, Warner Bros and other major players, is in a battle for the hearts and minds of consumers considering the switch to high-definition media formats against Blu-ray Disc, an alternative format put forth by Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and others. Both formats offer substantially higher data storage capacities than conventional DVDs, making them better suited to carrying high-definition movies and other large amounts of data.
Sony has made a major push into the market by offering its PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console with a built-in Blu-ray drive. Other Blu-ray Disc drives have also hit the consumer market in the past year. Panasonic parent Matsushita, Pioneer, LG and other major consumer electronics companies also back the format.
Toshiba has ratcheted up the competition against Sony by dropping the price of some HD DVD players to under $400 in the US - still considerably more than a DVD player, but substantially less than the drives were a year ago. Analysts anticipate that prices will continue to fall as more units are sold, though it doesn't appear as yet that US consumers are embracing one format over the other in droves. Many aren't anxious to get burned by spending a significant sum on a format that will ultimately be orphaned; others haven't made the move to an HDTV and don't see the benefit in investing a new high definition movie format until they do. Others are hoping that hybrid devices that work with both HD DVD and Blu-ray media will gain traction.