Kmart Dumps Blu-ray Due to Price

Kmart has decided not to carry Blu-ray players due to their high prices, instead focusing solely on HD DVD this holiday. While it may no longer be the bastion of discount stores it once was, Kmart's move highlights the problems facing Sony's format as HD DVD continues to get cheaper.

The HD DVD Promotions Group said that Kmart's decision to go exclusive wasn't related to an end-cap purchase (where vendors can buy specific shelf space and lock out competitors), but rather because the cost of Blu-ray players are more tailored to home theater enthusiasts. HD DVD meanwhile, will have players under $200, with even deeper discounts after Thanksgiving.

As previously reported by BetaNews, both Wal-Mart and Circuit City began offering the Toshiba A2 player for just under $200. The A2 only offers 1080i output, but most new televisions can do 1080i-to-1080p conversions better than players anyway, and firmware upgrades keep it as up to date as current Toshiba HD DVD players.

Amazon.com has followed suit by also offering the A2 for $197, and other retailers are expected to make the same price drop from the player's original $299 price point. Best Buy is now selling the A2 for $179. However, it's not clear how long A2 stock will last, as it has been replaced by Toshiba's A3 player.

Buy.com, meanwhile, has an impressive deal on the HD DVD add-on for Microsoft's Xbox 360. Normally retailing for $179, Buy.com is offering a bundle priced at $164 which includes Season 1 of Heroes on HD DVD, which normally costs at least $70 on its own.

Surprisingly, Sears may have the best deal of the season, although it only lasts for part of the day after Thanksgiving. Shoppers can pick up the new Toshiba A3 for just $169. The offer includes 7 free HD DVD movies, with 2 in the box and 5 available through a mail-in offer.

But there's still quite a bit of uncertainty when it comes to high-definition DVDs, and consumers may be leery about picking a side even with such deals. In addition, HD DVD and Blu-ray discs are still quite a bit more expensive than standard DVDs at retail, although online stores such as Amazon offer slightly lower prices on movies.

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