Slash and Burn

It's either this or talk about the stock exchangeMore high-def DVD news: Engadget reports that Sony has announced the summer release of a second set-top Blu-ray player, the BDP-S300 — which, with a sticker price of $600 USD, will be considerably cheaper than its current player, the thousand-dollar S1.

Now, that’s still a couple hundred bucks more expensive than Toshiba’s baseline HD-DVD player, the A2, and slightly pricier than a PlayStation 3, but $600 is awfully more attractive than $1000. (In Canada, it’ll probably translate to about $750.)

Question: What’s Sony doing? I mean, I know what they’re doing, on a pure marketing level; they’re bringing in the affordable second-generation unit after wowing everyone with the gorgeous, obscenely expensive flagship player, just as they did in 1997 with their standard DVD players.

But why $600? Why not $400, the better to achieve price parity with Toshiba’s A2, and thus conquer the high-def DVD world?

Do they know something we don’t? Is another manufacturer — Panasonic, maybe — about to announce a really cheap Blu-ray player? And is this an attempt to subtly position Sony’s machine at the high end of affordability, as the company did previously with DVD and even VHS?

Meanwhile, HD-DVD plugs along. And if you’re in the Toronto area and want to pick up a player on the cheap, Costco is selling Toshiba’s first-gen player, the A1, for $350.

I considered grabbing one just the other day, actually … but it doesn’t output 1080p, and it takes a full minute to boot up. Might be worth the extra $150 to get one that’s a little further along the developmental curve …

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