Grey Poupon? Just Eat the French's
I remember sitting in a CES press conference sometime in the year $149 D.V.D. listening to Toshiba whine about how no one was making any money selling DVD players any more. But moments later, they were announcing new models with new features and even lower price points. I guess you can't blame them. After all they had a lot of competition back then.
Fast forward to this year when the Toshiba A2 started off selling for $500 and is now available, in limited quantities, for – ahem - $99 at Walmart, "this" Friday only (10 per store, tough nuts if they run out). That's what capitalism is all about my friend. One guy sells a hot dog for a dollar, the other guy drops his price to $.95, then the first guy lowers his price to $.90 and then – oh wait, there is no other guy. Toshiba is pretty much the only hot dog salesman on the block!
So why the rapid price cuts? This week in L.A., the BlurayFlooziesFest kept harping on the newly announced Panasonic DMP-BD30 player which streets November 12th for a new, super low price of $499! They're getting seriously excited because the price dropped $50! Meanwhile, Toshiba has what, to a casual observer, could look like "Going out of Business" signs pasted to their storefront. Come on Toshiba, don't let 'em see you sweat.
As much as I love HD DVD, and as much as I appreciate the fact that every HD DVD player to date (okay, every Toshiba player to date) can accept firmware updates with just a few clicks of the remote (and a high speed connection), it's painful to know that I might never see Ratatouille in high def unless I get a Blu-ray player. And yes, Tom, I'm being a little facetious.
All the hype aside, there really is more room on a BD disc and being an audiophile first and a videophile second, I can get behind the better sound of lossless PCM tracks. So a BD player is definitely in my future, but exactly when is open to discussion.
At first, I was planning on making the jump to Blu-ray when MGS4 (Metal Gears Solid 4) came out just after Christmas. If you don't know what that is, it's a game, not a movie, but never mind, it's been delayed to Q2 2008. So now I need another reason. Maybe Ratchet and Clank starring – ah okay, just funnin' ya! It's a PS3 game too. So I guess you know what kind of a Blu-ray player I'm going to get. And I guess you know what kind of software is driving me to Blu-ray. Besides, Sony's announced the PS3's will get firmware updates to profile 1.1 and I'm guessing 2.0 as well in the future. Nice having a hard drive and an Ethernet port.
So what about the sub $100 HD DVD players? Well, look at it this way. You're a Blu-ray snob fan and your wife puts an HD DVD player she picked up at Walmart under the tree along with some paperwork that nets you five free HD movies. You struggle with the decision whether to tell her that any moron knows that Blu-ray has space for 20 extra gigabytes and that for an extra $400 she could have gotten something truly meaningful and worthy of you – or you just graciously accept the gift and thank her, whipping out your laptop and ordering a boat load of movies with the $400 she just saved.
We'll see what the Holidays bring, but if the rocket scientists of retail can figure out how to put a $200 HD DVD player (hey, quantities of the $100 ones were limited!) next to a couple of 2-for-1 HD DVD discs, Toshiba, Universal, Paramount and Dreamworks are going to sell a heck of a lot of hot dogs.