Survey: HD DVD is dead, but did anyone tell the online retailers?

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With the HD DVD Promotional Group dissolving, Toshiba abandoning ship, and precious few studios releasing anything on the format any more, you’d have to be totally uninformed and just a little bit stupid to buy an HD DVD player thinking that it was the future.

Enter two fairly benign entities — online retailers and the Great British consumer — which when mixed can be deadly (or at least, good for making expensive mistakes)

Still, surely we can rely on our helpful, informative, reliable, up-to-date online retailers to ensure that visitors to their web site don’t make a stupid purchase they’ll regret as soon as it leaves its cardboard and polystyrene womb?

You’d think…

Here’s a roundup of some key (and not so key) Internet stores, and their current attitude towards HD DVD.

Amazon.co.uk

Ahh, good old Amazon. You’d think that, with Amazon US having made things pretty clear, our equivalent would have done the same.

Wrong.

You have to search around a fair bit to discover that the HD DVD camp isn’t as strong as it used to be. Fortunately, if you can bear to read the customer reviews, you’ll generally find out that way.

Comet

Absolutely no mention of HD DVD’s fateful demise. No, you can happily buy a Toshiba HD-EP30 for sixty quid and be none the wiser (other than the fact it’s been discounted by ninety quid, perhaps)

Dixons

Well, good old Dixons. It looks as if it’s impossible to buy an HD DVD player now. Then again, you can’t buy a tape recorder or a VHS video either. Dixons really are “the future for less” after all.

Woolworths

If you were contemplating buying a high definition player with your Pick and Mix and a JML Slice and Dice (yes, I do crack that joke every time I talk about Woolworths) then you’d be out of luck.

The only listed item, the Elonex SoundBar 42 Surround Sound Speaker and HD DVD Player, is permanently out of stock. And a good thing too.

John Lewis

Never knowingly undersold, but possibly unknowingly had the wool pulled over its eyes. The Toshiba HD-EP30 is still on sale for £99, with no notice about the death of HD DVD.

Marks & Spencer

Everyone’s favourite posh food shop only sells one high definition player, and it’s Blu-ray — the Sony BDP-S300.

PC World

No HD DVD players in sight.

WHSmith

They sell the Xbox 360 HD DVD (for which they haven’t sourced a product image yet). Neither do they say that the drive is near extinction.

Currys

Unsurprisingly, just like Dixons, Currys only sells Blu-ray players.

24-7 Electrical

Shame on you 24-7 Electrical! You’ve got the ED-EP30 for £149.89 and it’s one of your “Top Products”. This is unreal. No mention anywhere on the product page that the format has died.

Co-op Electrical Shop

Co-operative by name, and co-operative by nature. Blu is the only way to go, just like their web site.

Dabs.com

No mention that the hundred quid Toshiba HD-EP30 is now dying, though an anonymous reviewer does spill the beans.

Electrical Discount UK

This online store doesn’t even seem to understand what an HD DVD player is. Selecting HD DVD from the drop down menu brings up a Samsung HDD DVD Recorder, but no HD DVD players. Less than helpful.

Discount Electrical Home Cinema

Appear to sell a couple of Blu-ray players, if you dig around for them, but no HD DVDs. Good show.

CD-Writer.com

Better hurry, CD Writer has just ten of the HP30 babies left in stock. No mention that they’re old technology.

Misco

According to Misco, HD DVD is “the next generation DVD”, though they don’t have any stock in, and will order the product on demand. Good luck with that.

The Flat TV company

Selling the Toshiba HD-E1 for £179 and not a peep about how useful a player with no discs could be to you.

Saverstore.com

So keen was SaverStore to sell me an HD DVD player it automatically added the HD-EP35 to my basket without me having to ask. Still no mention of its demise, though.

Maplin

Sells Blu-ray media, but no HD players of either persuasion.

DealZilla

OK, what the hell is going on with this web site? Any request for an HD DVD player brings up “The Spontaneous Mind”. I was even able to add this book to my basket for the princely sum of £214.05. I think it’s safe to say that no-one will be buying a defunct player from their suppliers, but they may be grossly overcharged for a book.

Update: Two days on, as screenshot proves, the “problem” has been fixed — or rather, replaced with the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive.

Game

Tantalises the casual surfer with a £70 discount on the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on, though it’s out of stock. The site helpfully states “Please note: HD DVD has now been discontinued as a format”.

Bennetts – The Electrical Experts

The Toshiba HDEP30 is on their front page, presumably as a recommended item, and there’s no mention of the format’s state on the product page. Apparently, “This latest technology HD DVD player from Toshiba has great connections, accepts various media formats and looks great too!” Mmmm.

Richer Sounds

Richer Sounds have a few Toshiba HD-XE1s remaining to clear, with just five left. Pop over to Bournemouth, Cambridge, Ealing, Glasgow, or Southampton if you really want one — for £299.95.

Toshiba Direct

“Let’s see what we have here”. Indeed, that’s what I’m doing.

Fortunately, this isn’t an official Toshiba site, which is just as well as they’re still selling the HD-EP10 and HD-E1 with no mention of their defunctness.

Argos

Still selling the HD-EP30 with no mention of the cull.

EmpireDirect.co.uk

Empire Direct are selling the HDEP30 for half price, despite HD DVD being “a home cinema revolution”. Are we surprised that there’s no mention of HD DVD’s deadness?

Looks like you still need to be fairly careful out there. Even if, for some bizarre reason, you still want an HD DVD player, you could still get stung by some pretty steep prices.

Be careful out there.

Andy Merrett

8 comments

  • Watching free movies is awesome. Free items are truly interesting. DVD tapes aren’t bad anyways.
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  • I’ve got an HD DVD player (and I have a brand new spare player tucked away in case I have problems with my current player in future) & a growing stack of very inexpensive high quality HD DVD movies.

    They were all bought extremely cheaply & for far far less than any comparable Blu-ray option, a Blu-ray option which ,it should be remembered, only matches HD DVD.

    It also helps that the HD DVD catalogue is pretty full of classic movies
    (done almost without exception to a very high standard of spec).
    These are the kinds of movies I want to collect and watch several times.

    I’m enjoying them now.
    I’m not stuck waiting for them to appear on Blu-ray eventually
    (which may well not happen at all for some of them).

    In contrast the Blu-ray choices (for now) are comparitively speaking very expensive, the Blu-ray players are either not their so-called ‘final spec’ and besides the PS3 (which is expensive compared to any HD DVD player) not one of their current standalone players is the full & final deal yet.

    Also, Blu-ray movies are often lacking in audio quality (unless you find the latest and extremely expensive HD recievers) and tend to appeal to the PS3 demographic (ie lots of the latest shallow dumb & forgettable American ‘action’ movies).

    Personally I’m more than happy to wait and enjoy my HD DVDs, my HD TV service (with DVR) and download.

    Maybe in a few years when Blu-ray has fallen to similar (£100/$200) prices and is the final spec I’ll look again but for now they have nothing to tempt my cash from my wallet.

    …..and no, I do not want a game console in my a/v rack. So no thanks on a PS3.

  • How about a listing of websites that inform you about the difference between different Bluray profiles and which profile version their Bluray players are. Manufacturers and retails seem to be VERY vague about the limitations of their players.

  • If you actually look at the description for the Toshiba EP30 HD-DVD player on Empire Direct for example it does say “Toshiba’s HD DVD players will upgrade the quality of your standard definition DVDs so you get the benefits of near HD quality”.

    To be honest I cant see how the consumer can go wrong with this even if they buy some cheap HD-DVD movies.

    I think you’ll probably find that most people are aware that Blu-Ray won the format war.

    Going off subject here but the thing that does worry me is the consumer blindly buying a Blu-Ray that are the initial batch of hardware release 1.0 players.

  • I agree with all of what you’ve said, CAD, though Blu-ray players, and some standard DVD players, will also upconvert standard DVDs.

    Particularly as HD DVD is often used as a generic term for high definition discs, I’m concerned that without a decent notice posted on the sites, some people may buy without realising.

    Sure, consumers should do some research first, but a bit of help along the way would be appreciated.

  • Yes you are right but you have to remember that people are also getting upconverting DVD players and the HD DVD player is a really good upconverter. Not everything is about Bluray you know. For the average consumer bluray is to expensive so it will not adapt till the price comes down. So you can get a cheap HD DVD player and still watch dvd upconverted to 1080P and it looks great. At the same time you can get those cheap HD DVD’s for the hell of it and watch at your pleasure. I’m sure someone will figure out a way to get movies burned to HD DVD so they can keep getting HD Movies for the players. It is a short term solution till bluray comes down in price. Apparently HD DVD sales are up compared to bluray at the moment.

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