The first thing you notice about Toshiba's third generation of HD DVD players is how thin they are. At just 2.4 inches tall, they're about half of what the first-gen players were 15 months ago, a welcome change for overloaded equipment racks. The line starts with the HD-A3 ($300, October), which plays HD DVDs in 1080i, not the superior 1080p format.
If I were you, I'd spring one of the higher-end models, either the HD-A30 ($400, September) or the HD-A35 ($500, October), both of which do 1080p. The A35, shown above, offers a couple of esoteric features not on the A30 — a 5.1-channel analog output and High Bit Rate Audio and probably a caviar dispenser, too — but you can probably do without them unless you're a big-time audiophile.
Good to see HD DVD getting cheaper, and with Blu-ray doing the same pretty soon you'll probably save money by getting one of each player, rather than going for a fancy-schmancy dual-format player like Samsung's Duo. As prices plummet further, will the HD-disc format war even matter a year from now?