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First $199 Chinese HD DVD Player Announced

First the Paramount defection, and now some potentially big hardware news from the HD DVD camp. We've been hearing for months that the Chinese are coming with cheap HD DVD players in the fourth quarter of this year, and the first announcement appears to have been made. Headquartered in Canada, Venturer Electronics is releasing the Chinese-manufactured SHD7000 HD DVD player in time for this year's holiday shopping season. No offical release date or price was given, but Video Business is reporting it will be the least expensive standalone HD DVD player on the market at $199.

The specs published on Venturer's web site indicate 1080i playback, HDMI outs and Dolby TrueHD decoding. The news release on Venturer's site also specifies the player as having Ethernet connectivity and the capability to "access bonus features from movie studio web servers and unlock special prerecorded content on some HD DVD discs," as well as having the ability to upconvert standard DVDs.

At $199 this player will be something of a marvel, if it in fact conforms to the full HD DVD spec, which requires a lot of computing and decoding power and features to carry the official HD DVD logo. For example, the player will need to manipulate the 1080p/24 video to create a 1080i output, and also requires secondary audio and video decoders to handle the Picture-In-Picture driven HDi interactivity HD DVD is known for. Nowhere in the release was HDi specifically mentioned.

LG Electronics decided to forego HDi decoding in its Multi-Blu combi player, and didn't get a logo to market with either. Not supporting HDi not only severely hindered the player's ability to access interactivity features, but also crippled its navigational capabilities with HD DVD discs as well. We can only hope the Venturer doesn't go this route.

Oppo has become a well known manufacturer of high-performance upconverting DVD players. Its most recent players can be purchased direct online at sale prices of $149, $169 and $229 on its current players. If Venturer can really make a viable HD DVD player at just $199, that's something of a coup.

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