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What’s your price?

September 30th, 2008

So how cheap is cheap enough? I was in Costco yesterday, and I have to admit that this snuck up on me. I was thinking that Blu-Ray was still a $399 proposition, with few exceptions. But there they were yesterday, THREE – count ’em THREE blu-ray players under $300. With bundled HDMI cables to boot.

The Philips was $249, and this seemed to be a regular price. It did not have Dolby TrueHD. The Samsung was reg. $279, on sale for $249, and it has Dolby TrueHD. There was also a Sony for $279, I think.

So the question is, again, what is your price? Is $250 the right spot? Will you take the plunge? Will you wait for Black Friday? Will the prices drop even more? Do you even care?

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  1. Rob
    September 30th, 2008 at 12:01 | #1

    I already bought a PS3 a year ago, so I’m all set. But for the people who’ve been waiting it out, the sad part is that there really are only a couple of COMPLETE Blu-ray players out there now. I just foresee quite a few people buying these clearance players only to get the home and ultimately end up disappointed.

    That Samsung P1500? Pretty nice player. Can be Profile 2.0 with a firmware update. It’ll pass DTS-HD bitstream, but no internal decoding. Big problem though? Some discs won’t play on it due to compatibility problems!

    The Sony S300? Terrible choice. No internal decoding for TrueHD or DTS-HD. No bitstream output either. Profile 1.0 only. Awful. But sadly, people who don’t know better will just see the Sony name, buy it, then figure Blu-ray – the format, not the player – is crap.

    The Philips? Pretty decent. No internal decoding, but at least bitstream is possible. Profile 1.1 only. Big problem though? It’s 1080p output is gimped and results in jaggies all over the place!

    So what good is a low price on a crap player?

    The new Sony S350? What a joke! Sure, you can firmware update it to Profile 2.0 now, but you have to plug a USB memory key into the back to do it and they recessed the USB slot so that only super thin USB keys will fit! Way to go. And on the audio side? DTS-HD is bitstream only.


    So there’s the PS3, the Panasonic DMP-BD50, DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 and the Sony BDP-S550.

    Those are your only choices for actual COMPLETE players.

    $300 gets you the DMP-BD35. Awesome choice. Only potential down side is that it has no multi-channel analogue audio outputs, but that only matters if you’re using an older receiver.

    $400 gets you either the PS3 (no analogue audio) or the DMP-BD55 – which has everything plus the kitchen sink, including 7.1 (!) analogue audio outs or the Sony BDP-S550, which also gives you everything like the BD55 does.

    The DMP-BD50 is an older model, still over $500 and has 5.1 analogue outs – no real reason to consider it anymore with the BD55 available.

    Frankly, every other player ought to be taken off the market! They’re just going to do more harm than good!

  2. September 30th, 2008 at 17:04 | #2

    good stuff, Rob!

  3. Rob
    September 30th, 2008 at 22:14 | #3

    Thanks, J!

    I just find it so frustrating. I always try to tell people, “don’t…just don’t. Don’t buy a player that has known problems. Don’t buy a player that has limited functionality. You might think you have it all figured out and you’re cool with not having internal DTS-HD decoding, or you’re cool with having no BD-Live, or you’re cool with really poor 1080p/60 output because you only plan to use 1080i or 1080p/24. But seriously? Why? Why open that can of worms at all? Why even risk it?”

    There ARE good Blu-ray players out there now. But the issue is still price. Price really is the only reason anyone is even looking at these incomplete players. Everyone wants a bargain. But what kind of bargain is it if it gives you problems or you just have to upgrade soon after in order to get a certain feature?

    Don’t, I say. Just don’t. Spend the extra money for a full and complete player or just wait.

    $300 for the Panasonic DMP-BD35 is pretty decent, in my opinion. But you do need to have HDMI audio capability in your receiver with that model.

    Still, I think it’s encouraging that a truly complete player IS available for $300 now. At least it’ll make the upgrade from one of the incomplete players a little more affordable :p

  4. David
    October 1st, 2008 at 01:33 | #4

    Since we are talking bargins here Best Buy has a 50 inch plasma bundled with an Bluray player for $1399. Tack the 12% off coupon that they regularly send out and you are looking at $1232 for a 50″ plasma and Bluray player. The quality may not meet our standards, but its a real bargin for Joe Consumer.

  5. October 1st, 2008 at 02:51 | #5

    Rob the s300 decodes dolby true hd now with the new update.
    I have seen blu-ray players for cheaper then this on amazon.com for month’s now. Not used ones but new ones. I currently use 2 ps3’s but i would like to get pioneer bdp-05 blu-ray player or that panny 55. I don’t care about having 2.0, hell I would be happier with super-bit blu-ray’s with no added stuff.

  6. davemcsjr
    October 1st, 2008 at 10:21 | #6

    Would we be having these issues with HD-DVD players had “Red” won the war?

  7. Rob
    October 1st, 2008 at 18:54 | #7

    we absolutely still would have had issues if HD-DVD had won. While it was still around, we had players that were limited to 1080i output and only two players capable of outputting DTS-HD in any form at all. And there were a grand total of zero HD-DVD players that could internally decode DTS-HD.

  8. Rob
    October 2nd, 2008 at 00:41 | #8

    Just noticed, but up here in Canada, our Canadian Best Buy stores are selling the Insignia NS-BRDVD Blu-ray players for $199.99!

    So how about that? A genuine (albeit, not complete) Blu-ray player, in Canada, for $200…who’da thunk?

    If anyone’s wondering about its specs:

    – Profile 1.1

    – No ethernet port, so no chance of BD-Live upgrade

    – Bitstream output for DD+, TrueHD and DTS-HD HR/MA

    – But no internal decoding for TrueHD or DTS-HD MA (DD+ and DTS-HD HR can be internally decoded)

    – 2-channel analogue out only. No multi-channel analogue.

    – gimped 1080p/60 output with lots of jaggies, moire, strobing, etc.

    – 1080i and 1080p/24 output is fine though.

    – pretty slow to load and navigate

    So basically, if you have exactly the right setup, this Insignia player is ok and for half the price of the PS3, it could be worth consideration.

    You’ll want a TV that can accept 1080p/24 or else has its own, good 1080i de-interlacing. And you’ll want a HDMI receiver with its own TrueHD and DTS-HD decoders. If you have all of that and you don’t mind the long load times and never ever want to connect to the internet, then this player can save you $100 over the Panasonic DMP-BD35 or $200 over the PS3.

    Go Canada!

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