From Luxury Item to Disposable Good: The Amazing $29 DVD Player

by on April 16, 2005 · 6 comments

So I drove over to CompUSA late last night for a special 10-till-Midnight sale. (Yes, I’m that big of a dork… but hey, I needed a new laptop and they had some good sales).

When I walked through the door, there was a mob standing around a giant bin fighting each other for a chance to grab one of the DVD players inside. After the commotion died down and all of the DVD players were picked over, I went over to see what the big deal was. Incredibly, CompUSA was selling brand new progressive scan DVD players for $29.99.

Now to explain to you how incredible this was to me, you have to understand that I’m one of those idiots called an “early adopter.” Yes, I’m the guinea pig who buys every new technology right out of the gates for outrageous prices just so I can be the first kid on the block with the hot new toy in town. Back in 1993, I was one of the first people to buy Onkyo’s hot new laser disc player–you remember those old discs that were as big as LP records and that you had to flip them over to continue to watch even short movies? Well, I threw down $1000 bucks on one of those suckers. It was rendered obsolete by the rise of DVDs just a few years later, and yes, I bought one of the first DVD players to hit the market too. This one was around $1000 bucks as well. And later this year I plan to throw down even more insane amounts of cash to be one of the first to grab a Blue-Ray high-def DVD player. So I’m not just the sucker that’s born every minute, I’m a reborn sucker every few years. The industry loves spend-happy idiots like me.

So, anyway, there I am in CompUSA late last night staring at the empty big of $29 DVD players and thinking to myself just how amazing that was. Not just because I paid so much more for my first one a few years ago, but also because of how fast the market had brought the price of these devices down below the cost of a good steak at Morton’s. (I had had a steak at Morton’s earlier in the day that cost $34 bucks. It was the cheapest one on the menu!)

Moreover, at a price of $29, that means that DVD players are now almost as inexpensive as the DVDs that they play! In fact, on a rack right next to this bin of $29 DVD players was a stack of “Lord of the Rings” special edition DVDs that actually cost more than the DVD players. (Also, in another bin, CompUSA was selling brand new LCD computer monitors for $120 bucks. Insane!)

Am I the only person that finds this absolutely amazing? I wonder what all those people who complain about a “digital divide” in this country would say about this.

P.S. Proving yet again what an idiot I am, I bypassed all the great sales on sub-$800 computers last night and shelled out over $2000 bucks on a state-of-the-art new Toshiba multimedia laptop. I’m sure the same model will be selling in a bin next year for $400 bucks. Somewhere in Tokyo, an account executive is laughing about people like me right now.

  • http://triticale.mu.nu triticale

    Actually, DVDs can be a whole lot cheaper than that. I just bought one with “The Giant Gila Monster” (which I love because the heroes are kids with hotrods) plus another horror movie for $1.00 at Target. Wal-Mart has a similar selection at the same price, stuff like a version of “White Fang” with a brown German Shepherd miscast in the title role.

    It isn’t only the “digital divide” which is made irrelevant by these price decreases. When a commodity like a DVD player drops from $69 to $29, that counts against inflation, but because it wasn’t a commodity at $1000, the real drop isn’t counted.

  • dal_timgar

    You have some kind of problem alright. I am typing this on a 1.3 GHz Gateway computer, 256 Meg, 30 Gig and DVD burner. I just bought it last month used, $300. I waited too long to buy it. They ran out of the $325 machines with 512 Meg. I would have to pay $100 to upgrade that old style memory. I’m too cheap to do it.

    I’m running Linux on it that I got with a book that cost me $30.

    If you bought used electronics and bought oriental rugs at estate auctions with the money you saved their value would accumulate over the years instead of depreciate like that hi-tech electronics. Carpet technology doesn’t seem to be advancing very fast.

    Dal Timgar

  • http://triticale.mu.nu triticale

    Actually, DVDs can be a whole lot cheaper than that. I just bought one with “The Giant Gila Monster” (which I love because the heroes are kids with hotrods) plus another horror movie for $1.00 at Target. Wal-Mart has a similar selection at the same price, stuff like a version of “White Fang” with a brown German Shepherd miscast in the title role.

    It isn’t only the “digital divide” which is made irrelevant by these price decreases. When a commodity like a DVD player drops from $69 to $29, that counts against inflation, but because it wasn’t a commodity at $1000, the real drop isn’t counted.

  • dal_timgar

    You have some kind of problem alright. I am typing this on a 1.3 GHz Gateway computer, 256 Meg, 30 Gig and DVD burner. I just bought it last month used, $300. I waited too long to buy it. They ran out of the $325 machines with 512 Meg. I would have to pay $100 to upgrade that old style memory. I’m too cheap to do it.

    I’m running Linux on it that I got with a book that cost me $30.

    If you bought used electronics and bought oriental rugs at estate auctions with the money you saved their value would accumulate over the years instead of depreciate like that hi-tech electronics. Carpet technology doesn’t seem to be advancing very fast.

    Dal Timgar

  • Walter E. Wallis

    Within a year or so, schoolbook laden backpacks will be replaced with a $100 laptop, ubiquiteouser [?] than cellular phones. Textbook printers will have to convert to an honest living and chiropractors will lose a steady stream of cusstomers.

  • Walter E. Wallis

    Within a year or so, schoolbook laden backpacks will be replaced with a $100 laptop, ubiquiteouser [?] than cellular phones. Textbook printers will have to convert to an honest living and chiropractors will lose a steady stream of cusstomers.

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