Blu-ray Players Surge in Popularity in 2009

Dennis Faas's picture

The popularity of Blu-ray players appears to be rising, just a year after doubters predicted that the devices -- which launched three years ago for $800-$1,000 each -- would fade into oblivion because of their marginal improvement over standard DVD players.

Much of that negative thinking has changed, and as you might expect, it has a lot to do with the plummeting cost of buying a Blu-ray player.

Blu-ray Price Drop One of Many in Tech Market

When the devices first launched three years ago, many cost nearly $1,000 -- a lot of money for most U.S. families, even in a pre-recession North America. Compounding that concern over price was the fear that rival high definition video format HD-DVD might win a bitter fight that continued until 2007. Even more troubling was the price of HDTVs, which until late last year were still very expensive to buy.

Thankfully, not only have Blu-ray players dropped in price, but so too have HDTVs. A 40" 1080p high definition television can be had for around $500-$600 right now, and with the advent of budget-priced Blu-ray players like the Insignia NS-WBRDVD (available for about $180), the cost of investing in an HD-infused home theatre is dropping big time this holiday season. (Source:

New Features Reinvigorate Once-Troubled Blu-ray

Helping Blu-ray to succeed are new players, many of which cost less than $200, that offer unique and very useful features. Some of these include the ability to stream content from the Internet, such as through online rental company Netflix Inc. Users can also stream TV shows and movies through Google's YouTube and Pandora.

The proof of Blu-ray's rising popularity is right there in the sales figures: according to research analysts NPD Group Inc., Blu-ray players jumped 53 per cent in total sales over 2009's Black Friday shopping bonanza compared to the same day last year. Another research firm, IDC, predicts that about nine million Blu-ray players will ship this year, an increase of 54 per cent over 2008. (Source:

Sony's PS3 Help Put Blu-ray on the Map

Part of the reason for Blu-ray's success must be attributed to the video game industry. Even when it appeared as though Blu-ray wouldn't make it past rival HD-DVD, Sony's inclusion of a Blu-ray player in its PlayStation 3 helped put the format on the map.

Blu-ray may have never survived the opening format war or the fallout of HD-DVD's decline were it not for Sony. At $299, it's worth noting that the PlayStation 3 still represents one of the more economical options for upgrading from standard definition DVD.

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