Samsung Canada says that, in March 2008, the company will offer a Blu-ray player bundled with a home theatre in-a-box (HTiB) system for an MSRP of $1,499.99. Samsung's latest BD-P1400 Blu-ray disc player currently sells for about $500 in Canada.
This offering will add fuel to the fire of a high-definition DVD format war that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Research company DisplaySearch says that we'll likely see a lot of bundles and add-ons in the consumer electronics sector in 2008, and it looks like the high-def DVD arena won't be a stranger to this trend. The HD DVD camp has already been offering bundled deals fore some time, with things like five bonus HD DVDs with the purchase of a Toshiba HD DVD player, and even with select notebook PCs that have an HD DVD drive. This new Blu-ray HTiB offer from Samsung will add another notch in the belt of the Blu-ray camp, and create even more competition on the value side of the fence.
When it comes to which format is actually "winning" the war, various reports state different figures. The latest information from the U.S. National Retail Federation claims that, during the first week of the holiday shopping season (Black Friday), HD DVD players led in unit sales, but Blu-ray led in revenue.
I’m not sure which business model will work: you can sell all the units you like, but if you’re losing money on each, what’s the point? Conversely, you can sell fewer, but more expensive units, which might create a healthy niche market, but could it lead to mass market adoption of your product?
Samsung’s move to bundle a Blu-ray player with an HTiB might just be the answer to the latter question. The 7.1-channel HT-BD2T system will include four tower speakers, three satellites, and a sub, and offer 1,100 watts of power, combined with Dolby Digital +, TrueHD, and DTS-HD. And, of course, a built-in Blu-ray player. A more affordable system, named the HT-AS720ST, will also be available for $599.99. Although it will not come with a Blu-ray player built-in, it will be promoted as being “fully compatible” with a standalone Blu-ray player. This system, available in late March 2008, will offer a 7.1-channel AV receiver with HDMI v1.3 switching, 5.1 speaker package, and a 150 watt sub.
For those who thought a clear winner (regardless of which side) would be in place by 2008, it looks like the battle might just be getting started.