To Stream or Not to Stream
Although it may seem like physical media is losing ground to streaming media, analyst firm In-Stat predicts that 18.5 million Blu-ray players will ship in 2011, an increase from 12 million in 2010. The Enderle Group echoes those sentiments, saying that Blu-ray's shelf life is good through 2025, until ultra high-speed Internet access is ubiquitous throughout the country. So until then, a videophile's best bet is a physical Blu-ray disc.
That said, deals on Blu-ray players have been averaging around $80, and we predict that prices will drop down to $50 this Black Friday. And there's more good news! Most of these Blu-ray players already have streaming support built-in, letting you watch Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, and more. A perfect example is the Philips BDP3406 WiFi Blu-ray Disc Player ($79.99 with free shipping via this link, a low by $14), which features built-in WiFi and the ability to stream from Netflix and VUDU. That gives a Blu-ray player like the BDP3406 much more value than a streaming-only set-top box such as the Roku player, which starts at $60 and sees less frequent discounts.