Cheaper, Faster, Blu-rayer

If you've been waiting for the prices of stand-alone Blu-ray Disc players to reach a more reasonable level, Sony says that day is almost here.

Sony says its new BDP-S300 will be heading this way sometime in early summer (although we've heard that story before...) and is expected to sell for $599. The new player is supposed to have the same feature set and capabilities as the current BDP-S1 which lists for $999. Oh, by the way, the new, cheaper model will also play another newfangled disc format: the Compact Disc. (If you purchased a Sony BDP-S1 over the weekend, you have our sympathies.)

Until now, budget-conscious Blu-ray hardware buyers had to pick up one of the two Playstation 3 versions on the market. PS3 buyers who also own a Pronto, Harmony, or any one of a number of other universal remote controls quickly began gnashing their teeth and tearing out their hair trying to find a way to control the Blu-ray-playing game console with anything other than the included game controller or the $25 add-on bluetooth-only remote. (No, I'm not bitter.)

The announcement of the new player comes shortly after Nielsen Video Scan released figures to the world showing that sales of Blu-ray software have now surpassed that of HD DVD discs.

Smart retailers can now wrap duct tape around a two-component stack containing a $599 Sony BDP-S300 and a $499 Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player and offer it as a package that eliminates any consumer worries about format-war obsolescence. (And it'll have more HD DVD capabilities than the LG Blu-ray/HD DVD combo.)

Next stop: HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc changers. (How soon will it be before we begin to see high-def disc players selling for less than the HDMI cables used to hook them up?)