Toshiba abandons HD-DVD

HD-DVD, the HD home video format of choice for Toshiba and three Hollywood studios, is officially dead.

Toshiba announced it was abandoning the format after a decision by Wal-Mart to stock only Blu-ray. The HD-DVD format began its demise when Warner abandoned the format at CES.

Mike Abt, president of Chicago electronics retailer Abt Electronics, told the “New York Times” that the big question for Blu-ray now is pricing and how quickly consumers embrace the format. Sony can now set it as it likes — high or low.

Abt said most people are very pleased with $79 standard DVD players that upconvert the signal to HDTV. And, he noted, Blu-ray discs cost $5 to $10 more than standard DVDs. He predicted that until Blu-ray prices fall between $150 and $200, owners would represent far less than 25 percent of all disc players sold.

So far, consumers have purchased about 1 million Blu-ray players, though there are another 3 million in the market that are integrated into the PlayStation 3 consoles of Sony, said Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering, a technology assessment firm. About 1 million HD-DVD players have been sold.

Any celebration over the victory may be tempered by concerns that the DVD — of any format —could be usurped by electronic delivery of movies over the Internet. However, Doherty argued that digital downloads are not yet affecting the DVD market and that they would not for some time.

He said that movie downloads face a host of challenges, chief among them that many consumers have insufficient bandwidth to download movies or move them from device to device on a wireless home network.