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HD Vmd Players Hit Stores for Under $200

by Paul Strauss

By now, we’ve all heard plenty about Blu-Ray, HD DVD and the so-called HD “format wars”. Now a little upstart disc format known as HD VMD has started to ship their very first players for less than half (correction: now just a little bit less than) the price of the cheapest standalone Blu-Ray and HD DVD machines. Just this week, the first HD VMD players have begun to show up on Amazon, with prices starting at just $189.

NME HD VMD Players

New Medium Enterprises’ (NME) proprietary HD VMD (Versatile Multilayer Disc) format uses standard red lasers, but crams in 4 layers per disc to handle the data needs of full high-definition content. VMD’s cost advantage comes from the fact that discs and players can be produced using much of the already existing infrastructure that’s set up to produce standard DVDs. First generation VMD will store up to 24GB, but there are already plans in the works to expand this capacity further using more layers, and potentially thinner wavelength blue lasers as prices come down.

The manufacturer claims the format supports full 1080i and 1080p resolutions, as well as bit rates up to 40 Mbps (about half way between the two competing HD formats). The players support video compressed in MPEG- 2, MPEG-1, VC-1, H-264(AVC) formats. As an added bonus, HD VMD is region free, so you don’t have to worry about where you bought your discs. Audio support includes Dolby Digital and DTS, but none of the more advanced audio formats you might find on Blu-Ray and HD DVD players. Even the least expensive HD VMD players offer HDMI and component outputs, and will scale old-school DVDs up to 1080p over the HDMI connection.

The most obvious downside to the budding format is the current lack of available content. NME has only scored distribution rights to a a handful of movies that I’ve ever heard of. Launch titles include: Hostage, Apocalypto, Pulp Fiction, Babel, Saw II and Saw III. Most of the other movies are either lesser-known independents, older films or Bollywood features from India. It’s doubtful that the company will be able to garner support from most major studios, given their already significant investments in the other HD formats. With HD DVD and Blu-ray prices on the decline, HD VMD will face a serious uphill fight.

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Comments (10):

  1. mlankton says:

    This article is incorrect and misleading. An HD DVD player can be had for $200, and that has been the case for a couple months now. HD VMD lacks support for DD+, TrueHD and DTS-HD, but supports multichannel LPCM.

    It’s not a surprise that people writing articles on HD VMD can’t get their facts straight, no one is going to buy one. Collectors of obscure hardware, hurry and get one while you can.

  2. technabob says:

    Show me a standalone HD DVD player (don’t say Xbox 360 add-on) for $200 and I’ll eat my hat. You might be able to get a first gen Toshiba on sale for around $279, but most of the players are still around $400+.

    And I was pretty clear that HD VMD doesn’t support the advanced audio formats (like DD+, TrueHD, etc).

  3. popeye9000 says:

    The second generation HD-A2 has been available for many months now for $249 at brick and mortars in the US like Costco.

    Futureshop in Canada is currently selling the HD-A2 for $199.

  4. popeye9000 says:

    After checking Amazon (since you mentioned that the HD VMD player was sold there), they are selling the HD-A2 for $229. Hardly twice as expensive.

  5. technabob says:

    You guys are totally correct. HD DVD prices have dropped faster than I thought they had. Just another reason to be cynical about the HD VMD format. I’ve corrected my post to reflect this.

    Seems like I’ll be eating that hat. Yum.

  6. bigglare says:

    I used the price from Amazon to get Best Buy to match. As a result I got the HD-A2 for $199 since I told them I was going to pay with an Amazon credit card for another $30 off. So Best Buy matched the $229 price and the amazon cc discount of $30. Plus I got 2 free movies instantly and 5 more on the way via mail. I’ve helped 3 of my friends use the same deal to get HDDVD players for themselves.

    HDVMD sounds good. If they supported and even released simple software to take your own videos and burn to DVD to make our own discs it might have a chance. I can take all my home movies and TV recorded via PC and burn to DVD and make my own homemade HD-DVDs using DVDR discs. HDVMD has a HUGE MONSTEROUS uphill fight for survival. Good Luck.

  7. nameunknown says:

    HD-A2 might be at $200 level but it only does 1080i, which is not true HD. If HD VMD gets more mainstream movies, you will have $200 or cheaper 1080p trueHD dvd player. If you remember, when bluray and HDDVD came out, they only had 20-25 titles. studios want to sell dvds so if there are more HD VMD players out there, I’m sure they wont be loyal to HDDVD or Bluray, unless ofcourse parent company comes down and tells them otherwise. I’ll wait till next year either way..

  8. Steve says:

    New Medium Enterprises, the company behind HD VMD, now have two different HD VMD players out. 1 retails (on their website, where you can buy directly from them) for $199 and another for $210. The more expensive model offers “superior native upconversion/upscaling” and USB and SD ports. I think it looks really cool too.

    I know those prices are pretty much on par with some of the lower end HD-DVD players and high-end upconverting DVD players, but you should factor in the fact that their full HD 1080p movies retail for $18 USD. So basically you would be paying $200 – $210 for a really good upconverting DVD player (which is about average) that also plays very cheap high definition movies.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Gee, I’ve seen HD-DVD players selling for $70 bucks at… Whoops. Toshiba abandoned HD-DVD but VMD is still around. I guess that argument about HD-DVD no longer applies.

    As for Blu-Ray, their players are still selling for $350-$400 bucks at the brick & mortar stores. One sales rep I talked to (post HD DVD abandonment) says that I should wait AT LEAST 1 year before buying a Blu-Ray player because they don’t think the prices will go down enough for practical adoption.

    Gee, VMD players & HD VMDs are already selling for lower prices TODAY. Think about it.

  10. Ash says:

    Is there any one in the WORLD, that has seen, used, or bought an NME HD VMD player and at the least one movie? No where in the WWW I can find a link to even one person having bought these players and player anything on them.
    Vapor ware.
    [On a side note, Blu-ray players are already heading down to the sub $100 mark, and Bollywood India (major studios for now) started releasing Blu-Ray titles]

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