Whether you're looking to purchase a standalone Blu-ray player or going for the entertainment combo kill with Sony's Playstation 3 console, the cost of entry remains a prohibiting factor for many consumers. This gets compounded by the fact that upscaling DVD players cost far less than Blu-ray while still offering a better picture than standard DVDs. But what if you could pick up a Blu-ray player for under $100?
Now you can, in a roundabout sort of way. Best Buy has started selling Insignia's NS-BRDVD Blu-ray player for a cent under $200 and with it a coupon book for $100 worth of Blu-ray flicks from Disney, Touchstone, and Miramax. The player itself is pretty spartan with few of the features found on higher end models, and it remains to be seen whether $100 in free movies will prove enticing enough (for $1 extra per month, Netflix subscribers can add Blu-ray titles to their queue), but it is the least expensive Blu-ray player around. Kinda.
Know of any good Blu-ray player deals? Hit the jump and post a link!
The decision of whether or not to pick up a Blu-ray player at the same time an HDTV is purchased may soon get a little easier, as the two are poised to come together in a single package. As of next month, Sharp will become the first company to offer an LCD HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray player and recorder.
32" LC-32DX1 (1366x768)
37" LC-37DX1 (1366x768)
42" LC-42DX1 (1920x1080)
46" LC-46DX1 (1920x1080)
52" LC-52DX2 (1920x1080)
Sharp's new Aquos DX series will allow viewers to watch a program on one channel while recording on another at the same time. By supporting H.264/MPEG4 AVC encoding, Sharp says its built-in recorder will be able to hold up to 11 hours of high-definition video in 720p on a single 25GB Blu-ray disc.
Pricing will start at about $1700 for the 26-inch model and run up to $5000 for the 52-inch set. Japan gets first crack at the new sets starting on November 20, with U.S. availability by the end of the year.
Acer's making a bid for your living room with its new AX3200 desktop PC. Sporting dimensions of just 10x4x14 inches, it should have no problem wiggling into an HTPC environment. Nor will it have much trouble mingling, as Acer's new desktop comes with a Blu-ray drive, an HDMI-out port, and support for Dolby Home Theater 5.1 surround sound.
Other components include a triple-core AMD Phenom 8450 processor clocked at 2.1GHz, a 640GB hard drive, 4GB of memory, a multi-card reader, and a bevy of ports including no less than nine of the USB 2.0 variety and an eSATA port.
"Offering 64-bit Windows, a Blu-ray drive, and significant memory, the Acer AX3200 packs plenty of power for tackling the demans of multitasking and the latest digital entertainment," said Stephanie Eggert, senior manager for Acer America's Retail Desktop Product Planning.
With all that the $680 PC comes with, a cut had to made somewhere and that happens to be in the graphics department. Gamers will find little to lust over with the integrated Nvidia GeForce 8200 GPU.
The AX3200 is available now through Fry's, though it's currently priced $70 over Acer's MSRP.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. According to the latest rumor, Microsoft plans to offer an external Blu-ray drive for its Xbox 360 console. Wait! On second thought, just hear us out.
We've heard this rumor time and time again, and in each instance, Microsoft has been quick to deny the speculation. So what makes this time any different? Possibly nothing, but it's worth noting that Microsoft hasn't publicly squashed the rumblings, at least not yet. Nor has Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology Corp (let's just call them TSST), a joint venture that XbitLabs says has been contracted to produce the external drives. If the rumor pans out, the targeted price point will be in the vicinity of $100 to $150.
Hit the jump to learn why Microsoft should go through with this.
It was exactly one week ago that I professed my undying love for Netflix with the same affection often heard from those harboring a grade school crush. At the time, which now seems like so long ago, I thought we had worked through most of our issues, but now I find myself needing to vent.
Today I wake up and find out that should I jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon, it's going to cost me an extra $1 per month. Jessie Teitz, Netflix's VP of marketing, says the surcharge is to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs and calls the price hike "pretty modest." And while it may seem silly to begrudge a single George Washington to the one I love, that still works out to a near 6 percent price hike for the 3-DVD plan. And for those of you on the 2-DVD plan for $4.99, the increase works out to a 20 percent jump.
Maybe I shouldn't have let Netflix know how wrapped around its finger I am and only have myself to blame. Or maybe I'm overreacting. After all, I won't be charged anything extra to stream Netflix downloads to my Xbox 360 this fall, nor has the recent Starz catalog caused the subscription rate to rise. I know I'll work through this, I'm just not happy about it at the moment.
Do you feel the same way? Hit the jump and offer up some insight.
Recording to Blu-ray media looks to get a big boost from Sanyo, who announced the development of a new blue laser diode the company says is capable of burning 100GB of data in as little as 10 minutes.
Current Blu-ray media tops out at 50GB of storage space (dual-layer), but Sanyo's 5.6mm diode can emit a beam of 450 milliwatts, or roughly twice that of Sanyo's currently highest power laser for Blu-ray devices. The high power laser makes it possible to read and write data on up to four layers at a 12x speed. To put that into perspective, Sanyo says one disc could record up to 8 hours of high-definition content.
It will be awhile before the new diode finds its way into consumer products. Sanyo says it will be another 2 to 3 years before production takes place, and by then, who knows what the state of Blu-ray will be like.
A year ago most of us were bracing for a long, drawn out battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but we all know how that turned out. What we don't know, at least not yet, is what impact digital distribution will have as the nation's broadband continues to improve. Michael Bay, the man who directed Transformers and then voiced his outrage over Paramount's decision to abandon Blu-ray, claimed in late 2007 that Microsoft wanted both formats to fail, and was even actively trying to sabotage the high definition format war, all so it could reap the rewards when digital downloads take over.
Hit the jump to see why some think Blu-ray and digital downloads are both here to stay.
Perhaps the death knell for Blu-ray among sub 17-inch notebooks isn't yet ringing, even if Asus and Acer are reluctant to keep forging ahead. Or maybe Sony is intent on not letting Blu-ray drives fade from the mobile scene anytime soon. But whatever the state of the high-definition format, expect to see it in Sony's new wicked thin VAIO TT series of notebooks.
As is becoming trend of late, the VAIO TT sports a sleek looking carbon-fiber shell, underneath which sits a modest 11.1-inch XBRITE-DuraView screen capable of a 1366x768 resolution. The small stature and ultra thin frame helps the new notebook boast a manageable 2.87 pounds and a thickness of just 1 inch.
The new notebook will be based around Intel's Centrino 2 platform, with a Core 2 Duo SU9400 clocked at 1.4GHz and 4GB of DDR3-800 RAM providing the horsepower. For home theater buffs, the VAIO TT can be outfitted with an optional Blu-ray drive, and then beamed to an HDTV via an integrated HDMI port. Also erring on the higher end, Sony says users can stuff dual 128GB SSDs in RAID-0 array - oh my!
Pricing starts at $2,000, though the cost of entry jumps to $2,700 for the model touting a Blu-ray player.
Notebook vendors appear to cooling off towards the Blu-ray format, but can the high definition format attract more customers on the desktop? Buffalo seems to think so, who today has released not one, but two new 8x Blu-ray burners, one internal and one external.
The MediaStation 8x external Blu-ray drive holds promise for its obvious portability, and comes ready to connect via USB 2.0 or eSATA. The new drive measures 6.4 x 1.9 x 11 inches and weighs less than four pounds. In addition to 8x read and write speeds for BD-R media, Buffalo rates both the internal and external models at BD-RE 2x, DVD RAM 5x, DVD-R 16x, DVD+R 16x, DVD-RW 6x, DVD+RW 8x,CD-R 48x, and CD-RW 24x.
MSRP has been set to $400 for the external version and $350 for the internal model, both shipping with a suite of CyberLink software.
We're not sure how Sony envisioned the Blu-ray revolution once HD-DVD was taken out of the game, but the reality has to be different than what was perceived. With the high price of players, consumers continue to show a lukewarm response to the victorious high definition format, even with inflated figures courtesy of Playstation 3 console sales.
In response to how things have shaped up, DigiTimes reports notebook vendors are beginning to change their strategies and kick Blu-ray to the curb. Citing un-named sources, the tech news site claims Asus originally panned to put a Blu-ray drive in its upcoming N80 and N50 laptops, but now only plans to do so with the N50 model. Going forward, Asus will focus it's Blu-ray offerings on large size (and more expensive) notebooks in 2009.
But while Asus has left the door open, Acer looks to be completely abandoning the format with no plans to launch any new Blu-ray notebooks for the remainder of this year.