HD-DVD Launches to Positive Fan, Retailer Reaction

Posted Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 12:34 AM PDT by
Space Shuttle Launch The history of consumer electronics marked a major milestone today, with the official launch of the first HD-DVD products to retailers nationwide.

Previously expected to hit shelves by late March, the first next-gen high-definition DVD players and discs finally began shipping to major retail outlets this week, in a carefully coordinated rollout by HD-DVD supporting electronics manufacturer Toshiba and studios Warner and Universal. Over 3,000 stores are planning to carry the HD-DVD products, among them such major chains Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Sears, as well as online retailer Amazon.com.

According to Video Business, as of late Monday Toshiba was already reporting strong initial sales of its first two HD-DVD players, after many retailers "leaked" product to consumers over the weekend. Though the electronics giant has yet to release actual sales figures, it estimates it will shipped an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 units nationwide in time for today's launch.

"We've heard very positive sales reports so far," Toshiba vp of marketing Jodi Sally told VB.

The initial four HD-DVD disc offerings from supporting studios have also already breached Amazon.com's top sales rankings. VB reports that on Monday, the online retailers top HD-DVD seller was Universal's 'Serenity, which ranked No. 321 amongst all DVD releases for the day, followed by Warner's 'Last Samurai' at No. 802, 'Phantom of the Opera' at No. 1,524, and 'Million Dollar Baby' at No. 3,708.

Initial reaction by early adopters has also been generally positive. After reports of the retail leaks hit the web over the weekend, many popular online message such as AVS Forum and Home Theater Forum were flooded with user posts on the early sales, offering detailed analyses of the first HD-DVD players and discs. Most enthusiasts gave the products a thumbs up, citing the format as a clear step up in video and audio quality over standard DVD.

Here at High-Def Digest, we posted reviews of two of the first HD-DVD titles yesterday, 'Last Samurai' and 'Serenity.' We're also happy to report that early adopters should be relatively pleased with the results -- both titles deliver on the format's promise of superb video and audio quality, even if these initial disc offerings are only the tip of the iceberg of what the next-gen high-def DVD format is ultimately capable of.

Watch for more coverage on the launch of HD-DVD all week long, as well as more reviews of upcoming HD-DVD disc titles throughout the day.
Tags: Warner, Universal, Toshiba, Disc Sales (all tags)