Blu-ray Players
Blu-ray player manufacturers have had a challenging year. It's been almost two years since Sony's Blu-ray format won the format war against HD DVD however, consumers continue to buy cheaper standard DVD players. Low-cost, standard DVD players that up-convert standard definition video to something that approximates high definition video has made it harder to justify purchasing an expensive Blu-ray player but that may all be changing. Prices have been coming down and we are starting to see signs of life in the Blu-ray player market.
High prices for Blu-ray players contributed to slow sales as a Retrevo study revealed 34% of respondents indicated $150 was the most they would pay for a Blu-ray player.
Blu-ray Players Take Off This Holiday Season More Blu-ray Players in the Market
We watched standard definition players and Blu-ray players track closely all year until late in the year, as prices dropped on Blu-ray players, we started to see Blu-ray players pull away from the DVD player pack. A year ago Blu-ray players accounted for only 20% of all DVD players in the market. One year later we see that percentage has grown substantially to 50%.
Profile 1.1 Players Are Finally Fading Away
Profile 2.0 also known as BD-Live offers Blu-ray players the ability to connect to the Internet and download additional content like the latest trailers and interviews. It also provides interactive features like quizzes and discussions. A typical Profile 1.1 player can not be upgraded to 2.0 so savvy consumers knew to look for Profile 2.0 in order to future-proof their purchases. It took all year, but the number of Blu-ray players supporting Profile 2.0 is now approaching 100% of the Blu-ray players.

With no major enhancements expected in the near term, consumers should feel confident that the Blu-ray player they buy today will not become obsolete next month. The next challenge will be for movie studios to create some compelling BD-Live features which up to now have been pretty unimpressive.

Competition from Streaming Services
Why buy a Blu-ray player and rent or buy movies when you can download them right to your TV from places like Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, Vudu and others? That's a question we're sure more buyers of Blu-ray players will be asking themselves before they plunk down $200 or $300 for a player. There are some good arguments in favor of a Blu-ray movie like more, full 1080p videos, extras like commentaries, and better quality audio. On the other hand, you can't beat the convenience and cost of a high def movie on demand. We'll be watching this race closely as homes get wired for higher speed connections and Blu-ray players come down in price.
Best of Both Worlds; Streaming and Disc Players
One trend we endorse is the inclusion of streaming services with Blu-ray players. Several players like the LG BD-390 and Samsung BD-P3600 include Netflix and
Best Player This Year Was Not Even a Standalone Player
During the first part of the year there was a common perception that the Sony PlayStation 3 with its built-in Blu-ray player and support for Profile 2.0 was the best value in a Blu-ray player. With the introduction of the $299 PS3 Slim consumers found it even more tempting to buy their Blu-ray player in a game console. For more information on the PS3 Slim as a Blu-ray player see the companion articles Why the New Sony PS3 Slim Should Not Be Your Blu-Ray Playerand Why the New Sony PS3 Slim Should Be Your Blu-Ray Player. All we can say is Blu-ray manufacturers have a marketing challenge to convince consumers that a stand-alone player is the way to go.
other streaming services including the popular audio streaming radio service, Pandora. As the competition to see who is going to be the preferred distribution service for high definition video and audio heats up, we'll be keeping an eye on Internet connected TVs like the Vizio SV422XVT, set top boxes like Roku, as well as the next wave of competitively-priced (we hope) Blu-ray players. We'll also be watching the development of Blu-ray players as distribution medium for 3DTV programming. Blu-ray discs with 50GB capacity are currently capable of holding both a 3D movie and 2D version on one disc. All in all, this could be a good year for Blu-ray as long as streaming on demand doesn't get in the way.
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Jennifer Jacobson
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