Great deals on DVDs

I like good deals.  In fact today, I picked up Season 6 of Smallville for $23.99 at Target.  Unlike Lost, which I haven’t seen big discounts on, I knew that Smallville would eventually drop in price, so I waited  Although I think the studios are wising up to me, as more often we see all but the newest season on sale.  I really hate that.  I think the Simpsons started that trend.

Anyway, I usually check out the Sunday ads for Best Buy, Circuit City, and Target for deals on DVDs.

Today the folks that run TV Shows on DVD have created a web page and RSS feed to track updates of sales of at Amazon for TV shows on DVD.  I like the information that they get and the provide for free.  And this new web page is great in its display of the information.  Alpha sorted, grouped by shows, listing of MSRP, discount, and sale price.  My one criticism with them is that they only track sales that are tied to them making money.  So if there is an amazing deal at some of the Big Boxes I mentioned, you won’t see it on their site.

Now is that a fair criticism?  Well, when I compare it with Don Lindich’s Soundadvice blog, I think it is.  He has recommended retailers that he will make money off of, but he also has many listed that he won’t.  So to me, this displays a purity in Don goal of helping us readers and consumers find good deals regardless of financial gain opportunities.  For example, today he has a deal finder for Polk R50 Tower speakers for $59.99 each down from $199.99 each, for the math challenged that is a reduction in price of 70%.  I am not 100% certain that he won’t financially gain from this, but I will put it at 98% certain.

On a side note, Don also has a new web page called www.avglossary.com, that looks similar to his blog.  It is a huge glossary/dictionary of audio, visual and photography terms.  He is still putting information up.

-Josh

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Toshiba surrenders HD-DVD

The AP reports that Toshiba has thrown in the towel on the next generation DVD format.  Sony’s wins this time around after its Betamax losing to JVC’s VHS format back in the 1980s.  The sad thing is that HD-DVD was the superior format and cheaper.

Analysts say people interested in getting a Blu-ray player would do well to wait. For one thing, it will take 12 to 18 months for Blu-ray players to become as cheap and full-featured as HD DVD players, which have been selling for just over $100, according to ABI Research.

So HD-DVD had more features and were cheaper, yet it lost.  I fear this will cause Blu-ray to become the next LaserDisc or SACD.

Even with the HD DVD out of its way, Blu-ray isn’t likely to be the success that the DVD was, given the many viewing options consumers have.

The big advantage of the DVD over broadcast and cable has been that the viewer can choose when to watch what. But that advantage has been eroded by video-on-demand from cable companies, many of which are now in high definition. Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable company, plans to offer more than 1,000 high-def movies this year.

Just last week, Apple Inc. upgraded its Apple TV set-top device to enable downloads of high-definition rental movies from the Internet. Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 game console also shows downloaded HD rentals.

“Blu-ray Disc has passed its first real test by beating HD-DVD,” wrote David Mercer, an analyst at Strategy Analytics in London. “But a much bigger challenge now lies ahead if BD is to become as successful as DVD, and content owners, retailers and manufacturers must now demonstrate that they can work together to promote BD effectively.”

If you have read my columns on electronics before, you know I like Don Lindich’s columns and blogs and he had predicted (before Warner Bros jumped ship, which was the nail in the coffin) that HD-DVD would win out based on the better features, completed specifications, and cheaper price.  This isn’t to point out him being wrong, we are all wrong at some point, especially when there are things outside of our control, but to remind you that the superior product has left the market.

So if you want to buy Blu-ray, then read Don’s other column on it in which he recommends that you buy a PS3 since there still isn’t a final spec for stand alone players.

Why do I plan on solely recommending the PS3 at this point in time? It’s very simple: performance, future upgradability and value. The PS3 is undoubtedly the best BD player available in terms of performance and reliability. It’s easy to update wirelessly and will support announced future profiles and with its supercomputing power, it loads discs quickly and playback performance is impeccable. The 40GB model sells for $399, the same as current Blu-ray standalones and only $100 more than the announced Funai profile 1.1 player I saw at CES. If you ask me, the extra $100 is money VERY well spent to get the best and avoid obsolescence, and that’s why I will be telling people to get the PS3 and avoid standalone players for now. There is resistance by some to get a game machine as their player but once you get past that and look at the benefits, it really is the way to go. Can the current standalones play movies? Sure. Is it worth it to buy one when a PS3 is the same price (sans remote) or only $100 more at most? I don’t really think so. As prices drop and Blu-ray players become more advanced, then I will start recommending them. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine… but to ignore potential consumer issues with profiles, BD+ and BD-Java is being unrealistic as they are all well documented. If you get a PS3 you get top performance and no worries. It’s an investment that will satisfy for years to come.

In my home you will find.

Sony:

  • Receiver STR-965 probably 1995
  • CD player CDP-C315 from 1991 which just recently died
  • Cassette player TC-RW 670 from 1991, rarely used
  • VCR SLV-970 probably 2003
  • 1 dead DVD player and 3 dead VCR players over the years

Toshiba:

  • 2 TVs, 20 inch from 1991 and 32 inch from 2002 both work great.

More recently I have been using Onkyo components.  I really like them and they work well.
-Josh

Great deal on receiver

Tonight I was cruising the internet and I discovered a steal of a deal on an Onkyo A/V, 5.1 receiver, 5×65 watts, the TX-SR304. I have the big version of this, the TX-SR601 which I really like.

In my post the other day on speakers, I talked about Don Lindich’s blog Sound Advice and his advice on the Best Buy Insignia NS-B2111 speakers. Well this is what Don wrote about the TX-SR304 when he highlighted it at $119 this past September.

I’ve long loved Onkyo’s line of surround sound receivers, especially their inexpensive models, which I find to be the best in their class. Their digital sections offer sweet, natural sound from sources such as DVDs and CDs and have clean, strong amplifiers that match well with most any speaker. At shoponkyo.com you can now buy the TX-SR304 receiver refurbished with warranty for only $119!

Here is where it gets better, the club price at shoponkyo.com is currently $99 for a refurbished model. But wait, there’s more! Until December 26, 2007, all refurbished models are an additional 10% off, and shipping is free, so only $89.10.

I have shopped from shoponkyo.com before, the product arrives fast, 2 days via Fedex ground to Minneapolis from Elk Grove IL. Plus with shoponkyo.com you get credit for future purchases at 5% of the value of your purchase.

TX SR-505 A/V, 7.1 channel, 7×75 watt receiver is also a really good deal, $149 refurbished, which would be $ 134.10 with the additional 10%.

Remember you need to join to see these low prices.

I do not get any money from Onkyo or Sound Advice, I am just trying to help extend the good advice that I get from that blog.

-Josh

Great deal on speakers

I have been reading Don Lindich’s columns in the Star and Tribune for years.  This week he highlights a great deal on speakers from Best Buy.  These are the Insignia NS-B2111, which normally cost $87.98, but this week are on sale for $49.98.

Now you may be wondering speakers from Insignia, the store brand for Best Buy, what are these guys smoking?  I bought a pair when they were on sale this fall, but not at this low a price, and I am really liking them.  Can I get better, sure, but for the price they are of very good quality.  Read Don’s review here.

It is good news, indeed. When I cued my first LP and heard the music begin playing, I immediately knew my friend was not exaggerating. These speakers sound great! Running through my favorite LPs, CDs, and DVDs continued to tell the tale. Tthe NS-B2111s have the archetypical “good sound” that satisfies. Specifically, there are crisp and clean with a touch of midrange warmth, and solid, satisfying bass response… the kind of bass response typically found in $400+ bookshelf speakers.

Like I said earlier, I bought a pair on the basis of his review and I have enjoyed them.  I recommend checking out Don’s blog.  He clearly knows his stuff without being some high end snob.  I mean if someone is going to recommend store band speakers from Best Buy at $50, as well as the other speakers you have never heard of, like Ohm, Axiom, and Magnepan, clearly he is about helping you get the best sound to fit your budget.  One thing I respect him for is that he lists affiliates and non-affiliates on his recommend retailer’s page.  So unlike some other sites that will recommend sites, but only those they can make money off of traffic from the links, Don is looking out for you the consumer.

I like his take on the exotic cables (Monster anyone?), Bose, and Blu Ray.  I think it is important that he challenges the importance of Monster (monoprice is the best alternative, I have used them 3 times and learned of them from Sound Advice columns) cables and Bose’s refusal to release the specs on their speakers.

I have e-mailed Don a couple of times with questions, and he is usually pretty responsive and down right nice.  So Don, thanks for the work you do to help us average folks get great sound, video and cameras!

-Josh