The first of the next-generation formats officially launched today.  As of now, you can walk into a store like Best Buy and pick up an HD-DVD player and some discs.  I know at least one person who already has one.  I'm hoping to see what it looks like shortly.

There are 2 DVD players available, the HD-A1 for about $500 and the HD-XA1 for about $800.  That is pretty cheap for a first generation format.  If I recall correctly, that's about where DVD players came out.  It might even be a bit cheaper.  Early adopters always pay a lot. 

There are a whopping 4 discs available right now:  Serenity, The Last Samurai, Phantom of the Opera, and Million Dollar Baby.  Considering a month ago there was talk of launching the player with no discs available, that's not too bad.  It looks like more discs will trickle out each week for a while.  Apparently the first discs and the first players won't have much of the advanced iHD menuing/interactivity yet.  That may have to wait for the next generation of players.

HD-DVD is shipping and BluRay is delayed.  The Samsung player will come out at the end of June now instead of the end of May.  Sony will apparently be launching movies on May 23, but no players will be available to watch them for a month.

I'm not sure quite what this means.  The videophiles are very excited.  I don't get the feeling that the next-gen-DVD war is slowing down their enthusiasm.  What do you think?  Does being out first help HD-DVD?  Will BluRay's larger cache of movies and studios turn the tide?  Does it matter?

I have a hunch that the winner of the next-gen-DVD war will be downloadable content.  More on that later.