Is Blu Cheap Enough for You?
Month in and month out I receive letters from readers about pricing on Blu-ray, and noting that the public won’t buy in until Blu-ray is cheaper. What the public at large will or won’t buy into isn’t quite the same thing as what Home Theater readers will buy and for how much. For you, as a Home Theater reader, how cheap is cheap enough? Cheaper than an iPhone or an iPod? Walking through Costco the other day I saw every day pricing on players that was well below $299, and I’m sure we’ll see cheaper prices around the holidays. But realistically, is Blu-ray cheap enough to make it down your chimney this year? Was there ever a case to make that Blu-ray was genuinely “expensive” to begin with?
Before I get into the 21st century I want you to travel with me. Back in time. In the early 1980’s the first stereo VCR my family bought was $800. More than a decade later, the first DVD players started at $799. Although the first Samsung BD player was priced at $999 (if memory serves) the PlayStation 3 came out within months with a model at $499, and in addition to newer PS3s as low as $399, standalone players below $399 have been readily available for some time now and fully featured players with outstanding performance are now available for $299 and even below.
When I look around and see the proliferation of electronics gadgets that sell in the millions, there are many in the same price category Blu-ray occupies. The iPhone now starts at $199, with a $299 model. The iPod Touch has models selling for $229, $299 and $399. The iPod Classic sells for $249. Can people really not afford Blu-ray, or have they been taught that optical disc players are a ridiculously cheap commodity by the absurd pricing of current DVD players?
Fully featured BD players like the Panasonic DMP-BD35 are now at $299 and falling. I can’t adequately convey the sea change in picture and sound quality one can expect from this relatively modest purchase. We have readers who spend more on exotic cables, power conditioners, and other silver bullets that will never do so much for their systems as one of these players and Blu-rays from Netflix if you don’t feel like buying. Not even close.
So, is this enough in this economy? Is Blu-ray coming to your home theater soon?