Sony today revealed plans to release a cheaper Blu-ray player this summer. The high price of current Blu-ray players is often cited as a reason for consumers holding off on buying into high definition movies.
Currently, Sony offers the BDP-S1 Blu-ray player for $999, a price aimed at the most hardcore of home theater enthusiasts. The company plans to release a new model, the BDP-S300, priced at $599 and says that the new player will offer all the functionality of the BDP-S1 plus the added ability to play CDs. The newer BDP-S300 will also be smaller and more compact than the BDP-S1, and is about the same size as a DVD player.
The BDP-S300 will bring standalone Blu-ray players in line with the market’s current cheapest way to watch Blu-ray movies—the PlayStation 3. Even at $599, the BDP-S300 won’t be the cheapest entry fee into the next-generation format. For $499, a consumer can buy Blu-ray functionality in the form of a 20GB PlayStation 3, which boasts nearly equal Blu-ray performance to standalone players.
At half the price of Sony’s $999 standalone player, home theater fans may be finding the PS3’s video playing bang-for-buck irresistible. According to Sony VP Randy Waynick, “Eighty percent of people who buy a PS3 also buy Blu-ray movies to go with it,” which could help account for Blu-ray’s recent surge against HD DVD.
Even at PlayStation 3 or the upcoming BDP-S300 prices, consumers may still find the cost of high definition movies still too great. The situation is less severe, but similar on the side of HD DVD, where players can be found for $400, or even less if one has an Xbox 360.
Sony has expressed difficulties in turning a profit in a market dominated by $50 DVD players, but continues to promise lower prices on Blu-ray hardware. Stan Glasgow, president of Sony said that by Christmas, prices for Blu-ray players should be down below $500. Exceptionally cheap Blu-ray players are still years away, but Glasgow expressed his believe that one day we may see a $50 Blu-ray player. “Over time, I think it will be just like DVD,” he said.