Transition to Blu-ray Slows with Economy

Dennis Faas's picture

It's been some time since Sony's Blu-ray high definition movie format knocked off its stiff competition from Toshiba and HD-DVD. However, the monopoly on HD flicks hasn't yet morphed into big sales, according to reports. In fact, the slowing global economy could drastically hurt the transition from standard (and cheaper) DVD.

Although it took a good long time for Blu-ray to nudge out HD-DVD, there had been speculation for some time that this would be the final result. Toshiba's HD-DVD caught fire early because of its cheaper price tag and a popular Xbox 360 add-on (yours truly was a sucker for that one), but Blu-ray's tag team partnership with the increasingly popular PlayStation 3 console and decisions by movie studios to jump aboard Sony's bandwagon killed HD-DVD earlier this year.

However, despite the fact that Blu-ray is available for many new flicks coming to home video, the transition has been a slow one. The big problem is clearly the cost. "You need the high-definition television set, you need the player, you need the cables, you need the software," said Lori MacPherson, General Manager of domestic home entertainment at Disney. "The economy is the biggest challenge, because there are just so many pieces to the Blu-ray puzzle that consumers face." (Source:

Unlike the old VHS days, one needs more than just a cheap knock-off television set to watch Blu-ray. You need a decent HDTV, expensive component (or optimally, HDMI) cables to get the right signal and picture, and in the best case scenario, a home theater stereo system to top it off. Although the last one is optional, it is an integral part of the experience and one people are having a tougher time affording this holiday season.

With that said, there is good news on the way. HDTV prices are plummeting right now; in fact, most LCD panels have dropped as much as 30-40% since this time last year. A close friend of mine recently paid the same price for a 40" 1080p Samsung HDTV that he did for a 26" 720p Samsung a year ago.

Blu-ray is also coming down. Best Buy's own in-house Insignia brand now has a player with 1080p output capabilities for just $250. Not bad, considering these things retailed for about $1,000 two years ago.

MacPherson believes high-def technology can survive the recession. "For me, it's the difference between costume jewelry and a diamond," she said. "Costume jewelry is nice, but I still want the diamond." (Source:

So says the Disney executive, huh?

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