Good news for US residents who happen to have already decided to board the good ship HD DVD. They'll soon be able to get their hands on the first third-generation players to hit the market.

Toshiba US has announced that its range of HD DVD machines will get a significant spec bump. It'll start next month with the launch of three new models that improve significantly on existing players in both performance and - possibly most importantly - price.

Home movies

The flagship HD-A35 will sell for $500 (£250) with improved 1080p high-definition video playback at 24fps. It also supports 7.1 surround-sound by allowing the audio signal to bypass its internal audio processor to go directly to a 7.1-capable receiver for processing. Together, those two technologies promise a more cinema-like viewing experience.

Additionally, the A35 sports an enhanced colour-processing technique called Deep Color that can display billions of colours. And it features CE-Link for controlling compatible devices with just one remote handset.

Also, the $400 (£200) HD-A30 model offers the same output as the A35, but without both the ability to go all the way to 7.1 audio and the Deep Color technique. Finally, the budget $300 (£150) HD-A3 offers just 1080i video playback.