Monday, November 10, 2008

Blu-Ray May Be Blue Sky for Holiday Retailers

Now that the battle between the new High Definition DVD formats is over, some executives at Sony may feel they may have won the battle but are losing the war.

I wrote a year ago about the two competing HD DVD formats and how the industry may be headed for another stalemate similar to the Betamax™ vs VHS wars of the 1970s. There were large companies lining up behind each format with Apple, Panasonic and Sony in the Blu-Ray™ camp and Microsoft, Toshiba and NEC siding with HD-DVD™. The good news is that the HD-DVD™ camp threw in the towel and now only Blu-Ray™ remains. Good for the consumer.

Like many new electronic gadgets coming to market the first models of the Blu-Ray™ DVD players were expensive and only the early adopters purchased them. Manufacturers like Sony were looking to this upcoming holiday season to firmly establish the format as the new “must have” Christmas gift. They figured that with more and more households buying new high definition TV sets, it was only logical that these same households would want to see DVD programming displayed on those sets with the same clarity and wide screen impact that only a new Blu-Ray™ player could provide.

Seems that someone forgot to tell the consumer. The sales of Blu-Ray™ DVD players have been well behind projections forcing retailers to deeply discount the price as we head into the holiday shopping season. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal predicted that some stores may offer sub $150 models right after Thanksgiving.

So is this the time to buy? There is no question that the Blu-Ray™ DVD played on a large High Definition TV set is awesome. You must keep in mind however that the current pricing of Blu-Ray™ DVDs is about double of the standard DVD. So a movie could set you back more than $30. And that is without the popcorn!

Even if you have a new HD TV, you might want to consider a standard DVD player that has “up conversion.” Using “electronic magic” these machines make a standard DVD movie look more like a HD movie. These players can be found for about $100.

If you have not purchased a HD set then there is no reason to buy a Blu-Ray™ player or an up converting DVD player right now. The quality of picture from a Blu-Ray™ DVD on your standard definition TV will not be noticeably better. Save your money and wait until they drop in price so that they are displayed next to the chewing gum at the check out counter.

For those who are considering a Blu-Ray™ player you will find that the format offers much more than just better pictures and sound. Some Blu-Ray™ programming is enhanced by connecting the DVD player with the Internet and thus making the program interactive. This experience is similar to playing online or using devices like the Xbox™ or Wii™. Of course, to use these features you must have a high speed Internet connection like RoadRunner™ or Cincinnati Bell DSL.

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