The major gripe against Blu-ray has always been that the hardware is just too expensive, especially when $99 HD DVD players were flying off the shelves at Wal-Mart a few months ago. While videophiles on a budget could opt for the $400 Sony PlayStation3, there hasn't been a real alternative for those looking for a cheaper standalone unit. Funai is looking to fill this gap with its latest announcement of a Blu-ray player slated to come in the second quarter of 2008 for less than $300--which is the lowest price we've seen on any Blu-ray player.
Other than the price, the Funai didn't release many other details about the new Blu-ray player, which it is referring to as the NB500 series. Like all other Blu-ray players released this year, it will be fully compliant with Blu-ray Profile 1.1, which means it can handle "picture-in-picture" video commentary tracks available on some new Blu-ray discs coming out in 2008. Like all other Blu-ray players, it will also be capable of upconverting standard DVDs to 1080p over its HDMI 1.3 output. The NB500 series also includes an SD card slot, which Funai claims can be used to display digital video from a camcorder or digital camera.