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Blu-ray prices ready to fall

This year Blu-ray won the bitterly fought high-definition disc war when rival HD-DVD gave up.

To celebrate the victory, which left it with no real rivals in the high-def realm, Blu-ray did what most monopolies do: raise prices.

“In the middle of the format wars, you had Sony and Samsung Blu-ray players on special for $299,” said Paul Erickson, an analyst at DisplaySearch. “After the war was over, it went to $399.”

But no more. Blu-ray needs friends, and it might find it hard to make them at that price.

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Sure, movies shown in Blu-ray at maximum 1080p resolution look fantastic on a large, quality HDTV.

But movies shown on regular DVD players, which many households have, can look good on HDTV too.

To compete, analysts say, Blu-ray prices could go as low as $175 or even $150 during the holiday shopping season.

At those prices, you’ll probably get the 1.1 version of the technology, which is just fine for playing Blu-ray discs (or DVD discs -- the technology is backward compatible).

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At about $200, shoppers will be able to get the 2.0 version that allows online connectability. Bill Hunt, president of the Digital Bits website, said the feature was handy for making electronic upgrades to the machine.

“The firmware update comes right into the player,” he said.

He’s been less impressed with the interactive games and other features offered by Hollywood studios for 2.0, so far.

He is especially dismissive of a feature that allows live chat with other Blu-ray users.

“If you really want to chat with someone,” Hunt said, “pick up the phone.”

-- David Colker


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