Low-Cost Sony BDP-S300 Is Shipping -- Do We Really Care?

As the new Sony BDP-S300 begins shipping on Amazon and SonyStyle for $499.99 (add $10 for shipping if you purchase it from Sony), I'm left wondering if people even care.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
BDP-S300 I4U

As the new Sony BDP-S300 begins shipping on Amazon and SonyStyle for $499.99 (add $10 for shipping if you purchase it from Sony), I'm left wondering if people even care.

Now before some of you jump up and down claiming I am off-base by saying that most people really don't care about the high-def wars, hear me out.

Sony's decision to drop the price of the BDP-S300 to $500 may seem like a great concession that will spur sales, but the price is still too high for the average person to even consider buying one of these players. Even worse for those in the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps, some people still don't have the ability to enjoy the benefits of these movies because they don't even own an HDTV yet. And as if that wasn't enough, the quality, while heads and shoulders above current DVD quality, still leaves quite a bit to be desired.

But it's not quality that makes me think people really don't care about the high-def wars, it's the price and the general lack of benefits that keeps people from buying these products in droves.

When products make a splash, they typically provide two qualities: a reasonable price given the specs, and qualities that provide people with a significant benefit. Let's be honest, does Blu-ray or HD DVD do either of those things? No way.

Blu-ray and HD DVD succeed in delivering high-def video quality while we watch our favorite movies. But for those of us who have invested hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a DVD library of our favorite movies, is video quality enough to warrant the repurchase of our entire movie library?

Think of it this way: you are the average non-techie consumer who owns 50 DVDs. All told, you probably spent about $1000 on these discs. In three rooms in your home, you have a slick DVD player that can pump out some nice quality video. One day you hear that, although an HD DVD or Blu-ray player can play your old DVDs, they won't be in HD, and if you want to watch them in high-def, you'll need to head on over to your favorite movie store and plunk down $30-$40 on the few available discs in your collection. Even worse, that new player you heard about will run you hundreds of dollars. So, after you repurchase your entire library of movies along with the player, you're looking at thousands of dollars just to update your home with the latest movie platform. Oh, and one more thing: make sure you don't choose the wrong format because, if history is any indication, one format will be gone within the next five years.

Believe it or not, this is the plight of the average consumer. They don't like to spend thousands of dollars on tech products that force them to buy the same thing every few years, and when they look at that never-ending DVD collection, the thought of repurchasing those titles in HD is simply ludicrous.

Unfortunately we are living in a transitional generation where the old guard continues to push discs and set-top boxes into our homes and the new guard is screaming for the eradication of this outmoded platform. And it's the consumer who is stuck in the middle of this generation with a general lack of care. Although some companies would like to believe it, the general public is not a mass of lemmings who will immediately buy the newest and greatest just because it's new and the company says it's great.

Blu-ray and HD DVD are fine platforms that offer (sometimes) beautiful video. But besides that fine image quality, they provide no real benefit to the average person. And it is this lack of benefits that can not and do not justify the price of the players and the media.

Simply put, we're ready for the next-gen.