Blu-ray Buyers: Early Bird Catches the Bargain

Data from shopping site showing that Blu-ray player prices have increased since the beginning of the year hammers home the sting of the early-adopter trade-off: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

For savvy buyers of Blu-ray players just after the holidays, the win was big. Not only did they get to enjoy their Blu-ray movies nearly three months earlier than many of us, but they experienced the satisfaction that comes with supporting a champion format through a format war. Icing on the cake is the fact that every standalone Blu-ray player has gone up in price since Jan. 1 due to higher demand and lack of HD DVD competition.

For example, Samsung's BD-P1400 leaped from an average selling price of $318 to $374, while Sony's BDP-S300 began the year at $307 and now goes for around $403.

This price increase must irk buyers who've held out from buying any high-def player and are now in the market for Blu-ray. But its got to infuriate those other early adopters - the "losers" who opted for HD DVD players and are now saddled with an obsolete machine and a yearning for a premium-priced Blu-ray player.

For those guys, the choice now is either wait for Blu-ray prices to fall again (a Sony exec estimates that won't happen until 2009), or go for one of the cheapest, most future-proof Blu-ray player around: the Sony PlayStation 3. It costs $399, but unlike other Blu-ray players on the market today, it's already compliant with the forthcoming Blu-ray Profile 2 - a new spec that will update new players with advanced features including Internet connectivity for downloading extra content. -Rachel Rosmarin

Tom's Hardware