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HD DVD Fire Sale In Slow Burn

7 Mar, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Retailers that used to be format agnostic are now ridding themselves of HD DVD software and players, albeit with caution.

Circuit City Stores featured Toshiba's third-generation HD-A30 player for $199.99, which included free copies of 300 and The Bourne Identity. It offered two free HD DVD titles with in-store purchases of three movies at $29.99 each.

Online, it offered the HD-A30 for $129.99 after a $70 mail-in rebate and the HD-A3 for $99 following a $50 rebate. HD DVD titles were limited to a selection of nine, priced from $19.99.

LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics' dual-format players remained priced at $799.99 each — the former after a $200 mail-in rebate.

“We are definitely in clearance mode,” said Circuit City spokesperson Jim Babb.

He said a market remains for HD DVD players, which he said sales personnel were marketing to consumers as devices that would up convert DVDs to high-definition resolution.

Regardless, Babb said Circuit City extended from 30 days to 90 days the time consumers could return purchased HD DVD players — not movies — for store credit.

“[HD DVD players] are very good DVD players,” Babb said. “We expect to be through the stock in a few weeks.”

Best Buy Co. Inc. made no mention of HD DVD in its Sunday circular, opting instead to market Panasonic's BD-30K Blu-ray Disc player for $499.99, or at no charge with the purchase of any HDTV above $1,000.

On its Web site, Best Buy offered 425 HD DVD titles priced from $9.09, for as The Contract (First Look Home Entertainment) to $55.99 for boxed sets of “Planet Earth,” “Heroes” and “The Ultimate Matrix Collection,” among others.

Spokesperson Brian Lucas said the nation's No. 1 HD packaged media retailer will continue to competitively sell and stock HD DVD hardware and software dependent on consumer demand.

“We are still selling HD DVD, and we are not blowing the doors off the price,” Lucas said. “As long as people are still making HD DVD movies, we'll keep stocking them.”

The biggest savings on HD DVD players and software could be found online, with both Amazon and eBay offering product at drastically reduced prices.

HDDVDBoxSets.com, a fulfillment site working with Amazon, offered the HD-A3 for $79.99 and HD-A30 for $123. The site also offered refurbished and used players. Titles ranged from $25.

Online auction site eBay boasted more than 3,446 HD DVD items, including 857 players with prices starting below $100.

Independent media analyst Rob Enderle with The Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif., said traditional retailers' reluctance to commit to an all-out HD DVD fire sale is due in part to residual consumer demand and a dearth of available second-generation Blu-ray Disc players.

“The problem is the first 2.0 compliant player [other than Sony's PS3] won't show up until late summer,” Enderle said.

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