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Wal-Mart orders 2m HD DVD players from China

Big boost for Blu-ray rival?

US retail giant Wal-Mart is to fill its North American store shelves with a 2m low-cost HD DVD players, a move that could help kick up a gear consumer interest in the next-gen optical disc format.

According to a report by the Chinese-language Economic Daily News, local operation Fukuhiko Electronic will make the players, which will be sold for around $299.

That's around $100 less than the list price of Toshiba's entry-level HD-A2 player, though we've seen it on discount for as little as $330.

The 2m players won't arrive at once - the deal calls for delivery by the end of 2008. But it does suggest Wal-Mart favours HD DVD over rival format Blu-ray Disc - though the retailer currently offers both formats online and in its stores.

Even with an extra 2m HD DVD players in the market - assuming, of course, they're destined for the US, a point that's by no means certain at this stage - that's still likely to leave HD DVD hardware sales well behind Blu-ray's. However, Wal-Mart's move will help drive down HD DVD prices and establish the format as the consumers' choice.

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