Harry Potter Years 1-5 Limited Edition Gift Set
First off, let me say the actual HD DVDs are excellent, considering they're the theatrical cuts of the movies. They look great, have some nice extras, and remind me why I wish HD DVD had survived instead of Blu-ray Disc.
However, HD DVD is dead, and that's why I picked these up. In a word: Inexpensive. You won't get five Harry Potter movies in Blu-ray Disc format for the current going price of this gift set. This was an excellent buy. I still have my HD DVD player, and this is a good way to use it. HD is HD, and in 1080p, the Harry Potter movies look brilliant.
Now, as to the rest of the package, I'm impressed. It's got a lot of neat little toys and things. The whole thing is meant to look like Harry's chest, and the HD DVDs are packaged in little cases that look like Harry's school books.
While I appreciate what they were trying to do there, I have to say: I really wish they'd given me standard HD DVD cases instead. The little flip-open jewel cases are in two different sizes, and are definitely not shelf-friendly. I guess the designers of this gift set couldn't fathom anyone wanting to keep their discs anywhere but in the included chest-shaped box. It's really kind of a bummer, because now I'll have to dig up some HD DVD cases and print some cover art so I can store these with the rest of the collection which has to be on Blu-ray Disc (since they're not making HD DVD versions to finish out the collection).
The bookmarks are rather nice. Too nice, in fact. I hate to take them out of the case!
The Interactive DVD game is a nice bonus. While it's standard fare for this type of thing (kind of a "choose your own adventure" book in DVD format), it's fun and was essentially a freebie in this gift set.
The bonus features for all movies are on one disc. This is both good and bad. Good, because you're not swapping, but bad because when I do put these in their own HD DVD cases, I'll have to have one case for the special features for all the movies, which is kind of odd. Most movies come with their own special features disc.
The other negative to this Limited Edition Gift Set is the fact that Warner Bros didn't give us extended editions of the movies, like the ones they televise on Disney Channel and ABC Family. Instead, these are all straightforward theatrical cuts, flaws and all.
While I enjoy the theatrical cuts, there's just so much missing once you've seen the extended editions, and I don't understand why WB didn't sell them in "limited edition" sets like this. This would be the ideal set in which to include those editions, don't you think? I guess we'll have to wait until the whole eight-movie set is available before they offer the extended editions in a set like this.
These are minor quibbles though. Really, this is a brilliant set of HD DVDs, a bonus interactive game DVD, some nice toys and collectibles, and a cool box. The price is right, and I highly recommend it to any Harry Potter fan who still has an HD DVD player.
AND A NOTE TO WOULD-BE BUYERS:
The HD DVD version you see here DOES require a special player. You can't play these in your DVD player, even if you think it's a DVD player that plays HD (it doesn't). You can't play these in your Blu-ray Disc player, either. You need an "HD DVD" player, which is a discontinued format.
You can get HD DVD players here, or elsewhere. The XBox 360 can play HD DVDs if you purchase an add-on drive (you CANNOT play HD DVDs on the XBox 360's built-in DVD drive). Just please, please, please understand that HD DVD is not meant for DVD players. It's a separate technology, and frankly, I'm sick of seeing poor reviews of this EXCELLENT product because some people are too technologically-impaired to understand the difference between DVD and HD DVD, or HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
Once again: YOUR DVD PLAYER CAN NOT PLAY "HD DVD" DISCS!
Now that we've sorted all that out, I'll summarize the review by saying this: If you want Harry Potter films 1-5 in HD, this is the best, least expensive way to get them if you don't mind a lack of HD DVD cases.