Well today is the launch of the first next generation video format HD-DVD. Best Buy broke the street date and sold some players yesterday and the day before, but today is the offical date.
There is only one player available right now and that's the Toshiba HD-A1
. The player is priced at $499 and includes an HDMI cable, and also acts as a decent upscaling DVD player from early reports. The player supports only 720p and 1080i HD resolutions and cannot output a 1080p picture even if the movie supports it.
The available HD-DVD titles that have been released today are
The Last SamuraiSerenityThe Phantom of the OperaMillion Dollar BabyHere are some user pictures
Some guy outside of Best Buy
For an extensive discussion and hands on reports you can check out this thread on the AVS Forums
These first releases DO allow an HD signal (720p, 1080i) to be passed over the component output, HDMI is not necessary. However, the player does have the copy-protection mechanisms built in, so later on down the line when movies turn on the copy-protection you WILL need to use HDMI and hook it up to an HDMI-equipped television that supports HDCP.