Monday, November 1, 2010, 2:19 PM ET|Posted by Will RichmondAmazon is now selling two of Samsung's most popular connected Blu-ray DVD players, the BD-C5500 and the BD-C6500 for $109 and $132, respectively, which I believe are the lowest prices yet for these two products (note these are new, not refurbished). The main difference between the two is that the 6500 has built-in wireless and 1GB of local storage, whereas the 5500 supports wired Ethernet access only. I've been tracking the prices on these two units for a while now and actually picked up the 6500 almost a month ago for what was then the lowest price I had seen of $190. The new prices put the Blu-ray players in close proximity to Apple TV and Roku in particular.
Just yesterday, Best Buy was advertising the 6500 for $160, which itself was probably the best price I'd seen to date (by comparison, Crutchfield and Walmart.com are both still asking $250). The move toward $100 brings both products well into the comfort zone for many millions of buyers this holiday season, helping drive Blu-ray penetration to new highs. This in turn creates many more connected homes accessing content from providers like Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, etc.
Coincidentally, Samsung just did a software update on Friday night to the 6500, complete with a new Netflix UI that allows both on-screen browsing, search and Instant Queue updating. That means no more moving back and forth between computer and TV to edit your streaming choices, which was a lingering inconvenience. The update narrows the gap in user experience between the Samsung Blu-ray players and Apple TV, gaming consoles, Roku and others that have had this functionality. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on the Q3 earnings call that updating the UI across all the connected devices it supports is a top priority for the company. Samsung itself is on a major drive into connected apps, currently sponsoring the $500,000 "Free the TV Challenge" for app developers.
(Note if you want to see all the Samsung connected devices, come to the VideoSchmooze breakfast/panel, "How Connected and Mobile Devices are Transforming the Video Landscape" on Wed, Dec. 1st at the Samsung Experience in NYC. Early bird discounted tickets now available)