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Why $100 is the perfect Blu-ray player price

Until DVD players came down to that price, the format wasn't even close to ubiquity. Besides, Blu-ray provides only nominally better picture quality, Don Reisinger says.

Lite-On might be releasing a $150 Blu-ray player at some point in 2009, recent rumors suggest. There's not much more information available now, but I don't think it seems out of the question to expect Lite-On or another firm like Memorex to release a player for that price sometime during the year.

But is $150 the sweet spot for Blu-ray players? For those who want Blu-ray anyway they can have it, that might be perfect. But for others, $150 is still a steep price tag for a device that would conceivably offer less quality than other, more expensive Blu-ray players on the market.

And as I consider a $150 Blu-ray player, I find myself in the latter grouping. It's not that a $150 Blu-ray player doesn't appeal to me. But for that price, I'm not getting enough that would make me want to spend the money.

For me, the perfect price tag for a Blu-ray player at this juncture, given the economy and the format's shortcomings, is $100.

$100 is the ideal price for media players that are trying to gain traction in the market. Until DVD players came down to that price, the format wasn't even close to ubiquity. But in just a few short months after the $100 DVD players started hitting store shelves, I remember finding one in almost every home I visited. It was astounding.

My issue with the admittedly low Blu-ray player price of $150 goes far beyond the cash I'd dole out. Blu-ray itself is still a question mark to me. Do I really want to spend $150 on an underwhelming player when the jump from DVD to Blu-ray isn't that great on good players and a high-quality HDTV?

I have a PlayStation 3 and Sony Blu-ray player. I've used both to compare the same films on Blu-ray and DVD. I've evaluated them on my Panasonic 50-inch 1080p calibrated HDTV. From The Dark Knight to Eastern Promises, I've found that Blu-ray provides nominally better picture quality.

Worse, Blu-ray movies still cost about $30 when they're first released and considering the same film is available for $20 or less on DVD, I don't think I'm the only one wondering why I should pay an extra $10 per film just to have slightly better quality.

We also can't forget that DVD is mobile. You can watch a film at home, pop it into your car's DVD player for the kids, and finish watching it when you get to your friend's house. No matter where you go, there's a DVD player waiting for you.

The same isn't true for Blu-ray. At this point, adoption rates are too low and player prices are too high to see Blu-ray everywhere we go.

Taking all these issues into account, I simply don't see any reason to spend $150 on a low-end Blu-ray player that may or may not provide better quality than my DVD player. When I can buy an upconverting DVD player for $100 or less and purchase a DVD for about $10 less than its Blu-ray counterpart, can I really justify buying a Lite-On Blu-ray player?

But if it was priced at $100, I think I'd pick one up. Maybe is a psychological thing, but a $99.99 Blu-ray player is ideal. It's cost-effective in an uncertain economy and it gives me the chance to buy a couple Blu-ray films to go with it for that same $150 price tag. And at $99.99, I know a slew of people who would probably pick one up, too. That would make it an even more compelling buy, since I could bring my Blu-ray films to my friends' houses.

But just because I would rather buy a Blu-ray player for $100, it doesn't mean that no one likes the idea of buying a player for $150. So let's hear it: what is your ideal price tag? Let us know in the comments and in the poll below.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed.