"Never buy the first version of ANYTHING." --An engineer I once knew and worked with. A wise fellow (at least in that cautionary point about technology).
I don't think anyone can judge the ultimate merits of either technology until we have some time and maturity at play. The initial launch players and titles ALL bear the marks of being rushed to market. I think that the next six months are not going to illustrate the real potential of either format, maybe not even for another year. Until: 1) the encoding, processing, transfers, authoring, manufacturing, etc. bugs get worked out in the discs/players themselves (which there are on BOTH sides); 2) the display technologies for full 1080P mature and become more widespread/cost-effective so that they are the de facto baseline for comparing PQ (until then, so many scaling/processing errors and inconsistencies between different viewing combos make it nigh impossible for real discussions of A/B comparisons); and 3) the studios stretch their legs and show what they really intend on releasing in either format, in terms of titles, A/V quality and extras...until ALL these are fully presented/actualized, it's all CONJECTURE.
As the hardware goes, the professional reviews of the Toshiba player have been very mixed in the various magazines and websites I've read...so proclaiming it the clear winner over the Samsung Blu-Ray, and thus heralding HD-DVD the format winner, seems quite premature and a bit 'glass houses'. Sony has a way of over-marketing the reality of their product's performance, yes...I'm still disappointed in the aliased graphics and the ultimately empty promises for rich online content and use of the harddrive on the PS2, for example. But I'm also thinking many folks here have industry ties or some other personal factors that bias them to the VC1/Microsoft camp. I don't see where MPEG-4 enters their equation, only MPEG-2, in many postings here. Why so bended knee to a proprietary codec/standard, I wonder? Shareholder or just invested otherwise? Through various mutual funds, my Toshiba laptop and some Sony A/V equipment, I'm embedded in both company's user base...but I'd like to see the best end product win. In my mind, the more corporate partners, the less centralized the control and more open the format--the more chance for continued innovation.
Until then...I'll be happy with all the HD content I'm watching via my E* sat service and splendid vip622 DVRs, my OTA antenna, and my D-VHS collection (many of which look absolutely stunning, btw...and, again, my eyes don't care whether its MPEG-2/4 or VC1). I have lots of fine HD movie options right now--and who knows when the online distribution for HD films will begin? When the HD-DVD drive for the 360 and/or the PS3 come out, I might renew my Netflix sub and dive in (I agree that stockpiling early releases might not be smart--how many early release DVDs did you end up replacing, I must ask)...otherwise I'll wait until a truly solid RECORDER/PLAYER of either format (or a universal) comes out.