Those who have been waiting to jump on the purchase of a hi-definition DVD player may not have a better chance than to snag one today, November 2nd, at Wal-Mart’s pre-Black-Friday sale that will start this morning. Starting at 8:00 A.M. E.S.T. you will have the chance to purchase a Toshiba HD-A2 second generation HD DVD player for the incredibly low price of just US$98. Yes, that’s right… it is not a misprint! While we were just crowing in another recent story that Circuit City and Wal-Mart were selling the HD-A2 for just under US$200, now you can have a chance to save another $100 on the HD-A2, provided that you happen to be one of the lucky ones to grab one this morning at your local Wal-Mart store.
While it appears that Toshiba has officially discontinued the HD-A2 second generation model in favor of the recently announced third generation models this does not appear to be stopping Toshiba from flooding the market place with the HD-A2 while inventory is still available. The strategy of bringing down the price of the HD DVD players seems to be quite similar to what happened in the VHS vs. Beta wars in the video tape format wars years ago. By flooding the market with more HD DVD players, it would appear that the hope is that many consumers will be attracted to the lower price which will help the format become more popular than the rival Blu-ray format.
Perhaps the best news beyond the US$98 price of the HD-A2 is the fact that buyers will still be able to take advantage of the five free movie promotions that Toshiba and Microsoft are running in conjunction with several movie studios that are supporting the HD DVD format. Those that purchase a HD DVD player between now and March 30, 2008 can mail in for their choice of five HD DVD format movies from a list of fifteen titles. While some of the titles in this free mail-in HD DVD movie offer might not be the most popular titles, it does make the US$98 price tag on the HD-A2 even more attractive with the five free HD DVD movies.
Those that are wondering about the pricing and the status of the third generation HD DVD player from Toshiba, known as the HD-A3, which is selling for US$299 at outlets that are carrying the unit, might be interested to know that rumors are circulating that you will be able to pick up the HD-A3 for US$169.99 at Sears during its Black Friday sale the day after Thanksgiving. This pricing does seem to suggest that we will start to see movement on the price of the HD-A3 once the supply of HD-A2 units is exhausted, but we doubt that Toshiba will want to see the price of the HD-A3 get pushed down to US$98 in the short term. According to several sources, a price of US$149 before the holiday still might be possible if those are the only units Toshiba has left to sell.
In other HD DVD news, Toshiba announced today that K-Mart will join the ranks of HD DVD exclusive retailers. K-Mart will focus on the HD DVD format for standalone players and movies. To start with, the focus will be on the HD-A2 player, but it is expected that K-Mart will offer another low cost choice in the future, as well. K-Mart will continue to sell the Sony Playstation 3, which uses the Blu-ray format. Our best guess for this decision is the fact that HD DVD continues to be the low price leader and Target, which is one of K-Mart’s biggest competitors, has elected to focus on supporting the Blu-ray format for standalone players.
In addition to Wal-Mart selling the HD-A2 for US$98 this morning, it should also be pointed out that they will be offering select HD DVD movies for US$14.98, as well. Of course, supplies of the HD-A2 are limited and depending on the demand you might have to try a couple of locations to pick one up. At this price, those sitting on the fence who want a hi-definition movie player for the holiday season may not find a better deal, and if you can get one it really would make the perfect gift for someone on your holiday list. It will be interesting to analyze the effect of the decision to sell the HD-A2 for US$98. Could all of these new HD DVD owners create the kind of buzz and traction in the market place that the HD DVD format needs to win this holiday season?