Through the end of business today (Saturday), Wal-Mart stores are selling Toshiba's HD-A2 HD DVD player for $98.87. That's about $45 off the HD-A2's's going rate at Amazon. That price apparently just came down $50. Over at Circuit City, the offer is $130.
Get this: The player comes with the format's five-free-discs offer.
The small print says "minimum 10 players per store," so don't buy your HDMI cable before visiting the store.
This is an older machine, but it has all the toys such as new generation lossless audio -- everything except support for 1080p images. That is a complicated geeked-out issue and it really won't matter for a while, so the player price is a screaming blue-light special.
Even if you don't want to invest in HD discs, this is still a great deal. The HD-A2 upconverts standard DVDs to 720p or 1080i picture resolution. The OPPO players pioneered this technology and it's for real. My Blu-ray player, the Samsung BD-P1200, supercharges every DVD it plays. I almost never use my perfecly fine regular DVD players.
If you miss out on the Toshiba loss leader, just keep watching the circulars. Black Friday should be a very interesting day in the electronics world.
Meanwhile, Kmart was busy Friday denying reports that it was going HD DVD-only. And the Internet chatter that Warner is out of the Blu-ray trade group en route to HD DVD-only seems like bullshit, but who knows.
My advice on HD remains to look at how the studios are aligned in the format war -- got kids? Disney is all Blu-ray -- and see if that makes the choice obvious. If not, go for the best player in your price range and don't worry about it.
Update: Home Media magazine reports that the "secret" HD DVD promo didn't leave most of the people who responded with happy faces.
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