Blu-ray &Hardware Steven Kippel on 28 Mar 2008

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.

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