Sony BDP-S300 to Drop Blu-ray Price

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The senior VP of Sony Electronics‘ home products division Randy Waynick says the company plans to ratchet up competition with the rival HD DVD format by bringing down the price on Blu-ray players: by mid-year, the Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray player should start reaching retailers at a suggested price of $599, and offering more capabilities than the $999 BDP-S1 Blu-ray player Sony is offering now.

At a meeting in New York, Waynick noted that Neilsen Soundscan data shows Blu-ray discs outselling HD DVD titles by three-to-one so far in 2007; however, the rival HD DVD camp has had the edge in player pricing, with Toshiba marketing players at suggested prices of $499. However, Sony claims to have sold more than 1.8 million Blu-ray equipped PlayStation 3 gaming consoles during 2006, and Waynick says some 80 percent of customers buy Blu-ray movies to go with their PS3. Sony is selling PS3s at a loss with recommended prices of $499 and $599, significantly cheaper than its standalone Blu-ray players.

According to Waynick, the new BDP-S300 will be smaller than the current BDP-S1, coming in about the same size as a typical consumer DVD player, and supporting high-def output up to 1080p resolution. It will also play standard DVDs and (unlike the BDP-S1) will play standard audio CDs. Sony Electronics’ president Stan Glasgow has been quoted as saying by the 2007 end-of-year holiday season, Blu-ray player prices should be below $500—perhaps making them slightly cheaper than a PlayStation 3.

Letting information slip about the BDP-S300 is another move in Sony’s campaign to declare victory for Blu-ray in the high-definition DVD format war: although we think it’s too early to write off HD DVD just yet (what with five studios and heavy hitters like Microsoft behind it), there seems little doubt that Sony’s format has gained momentum with the introduction of the PlayStation 3; offering stand-alone players at friendlier price points will only serve to make the technology more appealing.

[Update: The Associated Press has filed its own coverage of Waynick’s comments.]

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