Flashback 2006: Toshiba Launches HD DVD

Thirteen years ago today, Toshiba introduced the first HD DVD players in U.S. stores with high hopes that the new format would be the high-definition successor to the wildly popular DVD and conquer the rival Blu-ray format championed by a coalition of nine companies, including Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, and Samsung.

It didn’t turn out that way.

The HD DVD format was short-lived even though Toshiba made a big splash with the launch of not one but two players — the $500 HD-A1 and step-up $800 HD-XA1 (read our original review here) — and beat the rival Blu-ray camp to market by a couple of months. Samsung’s $1,000 BD-P1000 launched in June followed by players from Panasonic, Sony, Pioneer, and others.

Twenty-two months later, Toshiba pulled the plug on the format, ceding the title of DVD successor to the Blu-ray camp, which had much broader support on the both the hardware and software fronts. Toshiba released its first Blu-ray player in late 2009.

For an inside take on the then budding HD DVD vs. Blu-ray format war, see our 2006 report.

Billy's picture

HD DVD was the best choice, the lasers were red, like a DVD, could have been produced with the same equipment that made DVDs, so the costs could have been cheaper. Sony was still stewing about the VHS/Beta fiasco, so they made doubly sure to win. Hey, I liked HD DVD, but I am glad I didn't buy right away and get burned like I did with Beta.

mars2k's picture

So I bought an XBox Hd DVD player just in case...still have it...in a box never used....oh well

John_Werner's picture

I was a 8-track kid, a Beta and LaserDisc young adult, and a HD-DVD forty-something thrill seeker. I still have the infamous Samsung "universal" HD-DVD one that also plays Blu-Ray discs as well as one of the last Toshiba decks that they were giving away four or five free HD-DVD movies hoping they could empty out the warehouse if not throw a last gasp Hail Mary sales pitch. In between, throw in the Sony network NW-HD1 walkman and MZ-NH600D MiniDisc recorder (actually have a new one in unopened Sony blister pack packaging). Yep, I'm a failed format addict of sorts. I wonder how I escaped DCC because I loved the Compact Cassette (still do, just bought a mint Denon DN-790R). Pardon, but I need to run down a belt set for my Pioneer RT-1020L.