After its announcement at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin in August, Toshiba's new entry-level 1080p HD DVD player has arrived in UK shops.

As expected, many retailers are offering the machine, called the HD-EP30, for at least £50 below its launch price of £249. That makes it the first sub-£200 full HD player on these shores.

Full HD for £200

Despite the lower price point, the HD-EP30 adds new features compared to its predecessor, Toshiba's HD-E1. Crucially, these new features include a video output at 1080p, the much-touted 'full HD' resolution available on an increasing number of flat-panel TVs.

The HD-EP30 also adds 24-frame-per-second display, another premium feature that offers closer fidelity to the original cinematic frame rate and reduces the risk of juddering moving images.

A higher end machine also joins the HD-EP30, called the HD-EP35. This one has a launch price around £280. The main difference between the two is the inclusion of the latest HDMI output format, version 1.3. This potentially offers increased picture and audio options for HD aficionados who own high-end HD TVs and surround systems.

Buyers of either Toshiba player also get two free HD DVDs in the box (notably the The Bourne Supremacy and the uber-butch 300) plus a weblink to claim further five titles, worth more than £100 in total. by anyone's standards, this sounds like an awesome deal.

The HD price war

Until now, the battle between HD DVD and its Blu-ray rival has been more about the formats themselves and the movies available.

But with prices tumbling for new kit all the time, it has now turned into a vicious price war. The nearest priced (and dedicated) Blu-ray option is the new Sony BDP-S300 player, which debuted at a suggested price of £399 but which is already available from online discount stores for £260. Its tech spec places it roughly between the Toshiba HD-EP30 and EP35.

For most people, though, the best value Blu-ray player remains the Sony PlayStation 3, with UK bundles from around £300. With this, you get a next-gen gaming console as well as Blu-ray Disc playback. The PS3 is also capable of being upgraded to the Profile 1.1 specification.

If even £200-£300 is too much for you, the price erosion continues with the Venturer SHD-7000 HD DVD player, a Chinese-branded product selling in the US for less than $200. It's destined to be cheaper than even Toshiba's HD-EP30 when it arrives in Europe in due course.