I find the OP very interesting. I see people here w/different allegiances are trying to spin the comments in different ways but the following things seem true/likely, no matter what:
1.) Even the Toshiba HD-A2 player seems like it is set to be sold at, at least, $399 street this year. I actually bought the A2 from Best Buy last week at "their MSRP" for it - $449.00. Plus, I got two free HD DVDs along with it as part of a promotion. Now you take into account the things that are "the Spring release of the HD-A20" and the phenomena this is "Christmas/the holiday season" - and you have two serious events that will highly motivate Toshiba's aggressiveness to drop the MSRP on the A2 even further. Mix that reality with online street prices/promotions - and things get even cheaper. All this and to say nothing of the A1's, X-A1's that may still be floating around. Though not many were created - bargain-lovers who still want a well-reviewed/quality player may be "getting into the game" through finding the supply of these on eBay/elsewhere.
2.) The Broadcom/MS platform, Chinese player announcements, all those brands that are building them now - seem guaranteed/designed to put players out in Walmart for less than the cost of the A2. I mean, if not, then how will these players be competing/selling anyway? The answer is that they would not - the price on these Chinese players must be VERY aggressive. But I'll say this too - that's only IF they WILL actually come out this year - things look good from what we know so far but we don't have a crystal ball.
~SO, based on the above, - it seems very, very likely (if not to be the HD DVD groups ENTIRE general strategy for the war in this year - period) that HD DVD will have sub-$400 players out this year. Sub-$350 is even likely. And sub-$300 isn't out of the question.
Now note - these are stand-alones we're talking about here - if people want the absolute cheapest solutions for either format and don't care about stand-alone operability/appeal - then they are going for the ultra-cheap 360 add-on (if you own a 360 already especially) and the super-bang-for-your-buck PS3.
Now those prices I quoted for HD DVD stand-alones - based on the OP comments and what we've seen from the BD group so far - don't seem destined for BD anywhere near the same short-term time-frame. Maybe they aren't destined for BD stand-alones for even the longer term - if you believe the "3 years" comment.
However, that's fine. And can be taken however you want it. Generally, this is stuff we already knew. We all know the basic HD DVD strategy is cheap stand-alones and the BD one is high-volume exclusive software (especially for things as they seem set for this next year).
It can be debated as to which strategy is better. That was not my point here. I was just trying lay out an accurate view of the current "state of the union" with regards to this price issue.
We'll see what works. But, hell, neither the price or the software strategy may matter much anyway until J6P has had yet another full year to really get sick of SD DVDs, further upgrade his TV, and/or finally see what the value of HD/home theater really is.
And by then the strategies/landscapes may have changed a little anyway. However, I will say this - as many analysts have suggested - and due to continued Sony OP comments like this - it does still seem like Sony needs to have a quantum shift in their customer demand understanding. J6P doesn't want stuff like UMDs, high hardware pricing, arrogance/mis-steps in PR, premium products that are more complex than convenient, short-lived gimmicks and what have you.
Both camps need to remember what made products like the iPod and the Razor phone successful. Quick new hardware introductions/upgrades, with increasingly aggressive pricing, ease-of-use, speed-of-use, "advanced" functionality that is intuitive to learn, sleek designs, hardware that allows better performance/usage of "content" people already own an abundance of (Mp3s, CDs), and then finally enough "other" new and/or easy-to-obtain "content" to also satisfy/entertain them.