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Will High-Def Specials Deliver on Promises?

7 Oct, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

The promotional offerings from both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD backers have been coming furiously these past few months. Buy a set-top box, PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on and get three, five, 10, 50 free discs! Buy it at select retailers and they just might throw in a guided tour of the Universal or Sony lot and/or the store manager's first-born child (just kidding).

A day after one high-def format comes out with an offer, the other expands its offer, slashes prices and extends the deadline. It's brilliant: Nothing like price cuts and free stuff to drag in a consumer who's been on the fence.

One problem: Follow-through has been sketchy.

Who knows how many hundreds, possibly thousands of attendees at this year's Home Media Expo (July 16-19) took advantage of the HD DVD Promotional Group's “Perfect HD DVD Offer”? For $99 you got the HD-A2 and three HD DVDs. Audacious, considering the list price of the hardware ($299), and the fact the PS3 (at the time, $599) was the cheapest Blu-ray player. I know sources, co-workers and attending family who jumped at the offer, and wrote their checks the moment they got back from Las Vegas.

The offer ended July 29. Usually things like this take 8-10 weeks to show up at your door. Nobody I know who took advantage has had his or her check cashed yet (as of Oct. 3).

Maybe Toshiba was slow shipping the players. Maybe there's only one guy working at the fulfillment house, banging his head against his desk screaming “why, why, why, why!?” while he stares at 1,000-plus HD-A2 orders. Whatever the case, I know retailers, writers and independent companies (who are mulling whether to go high-def) are wondering how they'll watch the Transformers HD DVD.

Blu-ray hasn't done much better. I bought a PS3 right after the first price cut, and sent out for my five free BDs the next day. That was in early August. No Blu-ray Discs yet.Maybe they used the same fulfillment house.

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