Blu-ray on a budget

Blu-ray on a budget

From the Adventures of HDMI CreepWith so much talk about Blu-ray being the “expensive format” and that the fallacious reports about rising Blu-ray prices, I thought it would be a good time to bring some good news: Best Buy is dropping the price of many major Blu-ray titles to $19.99. This brings them in line with Amazon, and only about $5 more than a comparable standard-DVD purchase.

If you haven’t gotten into Blu-ray, it’s about time you get with the program. You need to start with a high-def set, if you don’t already have one. Panasonic’s Viera series TH-50PZ85U 50″ 1080p plasma can be had for just over $2,000. This is their newest, top-of-the-line panel big enough for even moderately large rooms. Last year’s model can be had for around $1,800. If you’re room is smaller, the 42″ TH-42PZ85U panel is a hair above $1,300. This is pretty incredible. I bought my entry-level Sony 720p rear-projection 50″ 2 years ago at cost for $1200, it’s amazing how fast prices have come down on flat panels.

While it may be wise to wait a couple months for a BD2.0 player (like the forthcoming Sony BDP-S350 at $399), for the impatient you can pick up Samsung’s BDP-1400 player on Amazon for just over $230. This player has the HQV Realta upconverting processor for standard-DVDs, making it a bargain. Of course the Sony Playstation 3 is still just $399, and is already BD-Live ready.

If you need a receiver with HDMI inputs to handle your advanced audio codecs, for as low as $270 you can pick up the Sony STR-DG810. Coming soon is the Sony STR-DG720 and STR-DG820 at $299 and $399 respectively, both featuring decoders for Dolby TrueHD. These Sony receivers will do the trick for a low, low price, but I would rather you spend just a little more and pick up the Onkyo TX-SR605 or TX-SR705 receivers at Amazon for $290 an $550 respectively. These have better amps and all the same features.

All that’s left is speakers. I recommend you spend more on your speakers than any other piece of gear (including your TV). These are the most important parts in your whole home theater. I find the best bang-for-the-buck can be found in Monitor Audio, Paradigm, Definitive Technologies and Revel’s Concerta line. Finding a good subwoofer is also important. You can expect to spend at least $300 on a decent sub.

I hope this aims you in the right direction to your dream home theater system. If you have technical questions, please let me know and I will answer.

About Steven Kippel

Steven Kippel has worked as a systems designer for a leading high-end audio/video custom integrator in Southern California since 2003. He is responsible for researching new technologies and integrating them into existing systems and new construction projects. He has designed several high-profile systems for discriminating clients on the cutting-edge of technology. When he is not hard at work, Steven is spending time with his wife, playing with his band or promoting concerts and bands in the Inland Empire. His favorite bands include The Cure, U2, Eisley, Living Sacrifice and DragonForce.

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