Get ready to get your cheap HD on kids. Wal-Mart just threw down some serious green for a batch of Chinese-made HD DVD players. Just as they brought DVD players down to near-disposable status, their deal for 2 million HD DVD players produced by China's Great Wall corporation will ultimately do the same for hi-def optical. The guts are developed by Taiwan's Fuh Yuan with a touch of help from Japan's TDK. How much? A magical $299, that's how much -- $100 less than the cheapest available HD DVD rig (Toshiba's A2) and half of Sony's $600 BDP-S300 Blu-ray Disc player. It's not clear when we'll see the first units on Wal-Mart shelves, only that the final shipment from the order is expected before 2008 is over.

Update: Pull back the reigns HD DVD fanboys, Akihabara now says that they've made a "huge mistake" with their translation: the original source called it "?????? HD DVD and ?????? means Blu-RAY." In other words, Blu-ray HD DVD. Huh? Word to the wise: since both formats use blue lasers, it's best to wait for an English press release before either camp celebrates.

[Via Akihabara News]

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The Wal-Mart $299 HD DVD player on the way