The HD DVD Promotion Group announced at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that next-generation, HD DVD players and leading film content will be widely available in the U.S. market beginning March 2006.
At a press conference featuring top executives from each industry, Toshiba demonstrated the unparalleled sights and sounds created by the company's first two production HD DVD player models. The players will be available in the U.S. in March 2006, with prices starting at $499.99 -- ushering in a new era of high-definition home entertainment. Today online retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy.com, Crutchfield.com and Tweeter.com, have started accepting pre-orders.
Microsoft also announced it will offer a new Xbox 360 external HD DVD drive in 2006. The new drive will offer millions of Xbox 360 owners the ability to easily enjoy HD DVD movies, adding more high definition choices to the popular gaming and entertainment system.
Warner Home Video, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, HBO Video and New Line Home Entertainment were also on stage to announce that nearly 50 HD DVD titles, including "Aeon Flux," "Batman Begins," "The Bourne Supremacy," "Jarhead," "The Matrix "and "U2: Rattle & Hum," will be available this Spring to coincide with the launch of the players. The studios also outlined plans to release additional titles throughout the year. More than 150 titles are expected to be available in time for the 2006 holiday season.
"We're proud that HD DVD will be appearing in a living room near you in a matter of weeks, with affordable players and the hottest film titles," said Yoshihide Fujii, corporate senior vice president and president and CEO of Digital Media Network Company, Toshiba Corporation. "With the support of leading studios, consumer electronics manufacturers and PC industry titans, I can confidently say that HD DVD will have the time to market advantage and the breadth of content to show consumers that this is the next-generation HD format."
"We have reached a point where consumer interest in high-definition programming far outweighs availability," said Warren Lieberfarb, chairman of Lieberfarb & Associates and an American Film Institute board member. "As the first widely available high definition format to market, HD DVD will help satisfy the ever-growing consumer appetite for great movies with mind-blowing extras. Between Warner Home Video, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures, they are responsible for more than half of the major feature films and television programs ever developed and their movies make up more than fifty percent of the American Film Institute's top 100 films of all time."
Retail outlets, including Best Buy, Crutchfield, Sears and Tweeter, plan to carry HD DVD players and movies beginning in March.
"High definition televisions have been extremely popular on Amazon.com, so we know our customers are eager to start enjoying more high definition programming," said Greg Hart, director of North American Music, DVD, and Computer and Video Games for Amazon.com. "With attractively priced players, numerous top-selling DVDs soon to be available in high definition and widespread industry support, we expect our customers to take advantage of the opportunity to start building their HD DVD libraries today."
Additionally, CustomFlix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, plans to provide an opportunity for small studios and filmmakers to utilize disc-on-demand technology to offer packaged high definition content much earlier, faster and more efficiently than may otherwise be possible with traditional replication methods.
Texas Instruments, which is leading the industry in maximum-HD 1080p resolution DLP HDTV technology as the number one selling 1080p television at retail, also announced strong support for HD DVD as well.
Accelerating Digital Convergence
As the first high-definition format to reach the mass market, HD DVD will provide consumers with stunning picture and sound quality, taking full advantage of high-definition televisions and home theater systems. The entertainment experience extends well beyond today's DVDs, allowing new and innovative ways to view movies and access bonus content. The format will also give consumers the opportunity to securely transfer high definition content for storage on their PC's hard disk drive, stream over a home network or even synchronize to a portable media player.
Enthusiasm for HD DVD was echoed at the press conference by prominent leaders in the IT industry. Microsoft reaffirmed that it will build the infrastructure to support HD DVD into the upcoming Windows Vista operating system coming later this year and HP was welcomed as the newest member of the HD DVD Promotion Group. Toshiba also demonstrated its AV notebook PCs, featuring slim-type HD DVD ROM drives, while NEC, a leading Japanese PC manufacturer, offered a strong commitment to enhancing the momentum for next-generation PCs with HD DVD drives