Toshiba Strikes Back in HD DVD/Blu-ray Battle

Looks like Toshiba isn’t going to give up the high-definition format war without a fight. The only major CE manufacturer supporting HD DVD announced today that it will slash the price of its entire line by up to 50% as the company fights to keep the format alive against a surging Blu-ray consortium of manufacturers and participating studios. Toshiba suffered a serious blow to HD DVD’s viability earlier this month after Warner Bros. announced it would exclusively release high definition titles to Blu-ray by mid-year. Industry insiders say Universal Studios and Paramount also are wavering and could end their exclusive HD DVD support within weeks. To keep those studios from defecting, Toshiba says it will step up consumer marketing with its studio partners to advertise its players now selling for as low as $149 for the entry-level 1080-interlaced model, going up to $399 for the top-of-range 1080 progressive player. Besides the considerable loss Toshiba still be taking selling the players well below cost, the move could cut both ways with retailers. Many of the big names are likely to be drawing up plans to clear out HD DVD inventory amid expectations that Blu-ray will become the industry standard. The Toshiba fire sale could accelerate the process and keep the company from introducing three new models it showed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Of course, Toshiba is betting that if it can triple or quadruple sales in a few weeks, studios and retailers may again waver. But will enough consumers bite on a format that is looking more and more attractive as a high-end player for upconverting standard definition DVDs instead of showcasing high-def movies?

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