Toshiba Corp. on Monday announced an aggressive campaign to bolster its HD DVD movie disc format against Sony-backed Blu-ray technology, cutting prices on players to as low as $149.99.
The HD DVD camp suffered a serious blow on Jan. 4, when Warner Bros. Entertainment said it would stop publishing movies on HD DVD in May, to focus on Blu-ray and regular DVD.
That leaves only two major studios, Paramount and Universal, still supporting HD DVD, while five support Blu-ray.
Toshiba on Monday slashed the suggested retail price of its cheapest player, the HD-A3, from $299.99 to $149.99. The price for the HD-A30 was also halved, from $399.99 to $199.99, while the price on the high-end HD-A35 went from $499.99 to $299.99.
HD DVD players have been cheaper than Blu-ray players for a while, and sales of standalone players have been strong. But Blu-ray has benefited from Sony's cachet among video enthusiasts, as well as the ability of the PlayStation 3 game console to play Blu-ray discs.
"While price is one of the consideration elements for the early adopter, it is a deal-breaker for the mainstream consumer," said Yoshi Uchiyama, group vice president of digital audio and video at Toshiba America Consumer Products.
Toshiba also said it planned an extended campaign of TV, print and online advertising to promote the format.
The availability of two competing formats — and the confusion and uncertainty it's sowed among buyers — has been widely blamed for the slow adoption of high-definition players in general.
Warner Bros. Entertainment is owned by Time Warner Inc.