The First $100 High-Def DVD Player

The DVD fight may end with a whimper, or a download.

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Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player
Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player

Prices for next-generation DVD players appear to be crashing, as two sides in the format fight wrestle for holiday sales. Wal-Mart is putting a Toshiba HD DVD player on sale tomorrow for $100. That's a drastic cut from the already steep discounts that have popped up recently, bringing players down to $170 or $180 apiece. Wal-Mart's is just a one-day sale, but it's probably a taste of what's to come.

A recent study by Screen Digest suggested that the fight between HD DVD and Blu-ray may end quietly, with the two profitably coexisting, if the hardware gets cheap enough that drives in both formats sell widely. Studios would then buckle under and begin issuing disks in both, rather than offering exclusive support to one or the other, as most studios do now.

The combatants may not have long to sort this out. A company that helps serve video across the Web, Akamai, just launched a site that offers a taste of high-definition video for downloading. Most of what's there is just trailers and teasers, but CBS put up a full episode of CSI in high def. It starts playing smoothly in less than a minute and looks great.

Akamai concedes the site is just a "sneak peak into the future," but that future may come soon. The drive makers who started this spat over what's likely to be the last generation in DVD—Toshiba and Sony—had better figure something out quick.