When DVD movies come free in boxes of breakfast cereal, it's just a matter of time before all VCRs go the way of Beta.
DVDs' market penetration is so fast it's unprecedented, and prices on players are plummeting. In any given week, Future Shop (353 Yonge, 416-971-5377, and others, or www.futureshop.ca) has some model on promotion for under $200.
"Buying the cheapest player isn't always the best deal," points out Bay Bloor Radio's Richard Bowen. "For an extra $50 you can get one that decodes CD-Rs, CD-RWs and MP3 burn discs, all of which you may want."
Bowen recommends products like Sony's DVP-NF 300 (1) as a realistic first buy ($299, Bay Bloor Radio, Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor West, 416-967-1122; $300, Brack Home Entertainment, 69 Front East, 416-366-3636).
With Panasonic's nicely loaded DVD RV 31 going for $299 at Kromer Radio (420 Bathurst, 416-920-6700), Kromer's Frank Abate gives an anti-hard-sell: "Entry-level units have everything you need. You don't need to go over the top."
Still, there will always be consumers who lust for bleeding-edge electronics beyond the purely practical. On the wish-list level, hardcore audiophiles will appreciate the high-end hi-fi sound of Myryad's MDV200 (2, $2,495 at Bay Bloor), Sony's top-of-the-line super-audio CD DVP S9000 ES ($1,950 at Brack) or Panasonic's elite series RP91 ($899 at Kromer).
Few people are willing to pay the serious premium added for portability, but for those who must view DVDs on the move -- and don't have a drive they can use in a laptop -- Panasonic's 7-inch-small DVD-LA85 PalmTheater offers great Dolby digital sound (3, $1,499 at Bay Bloor).
Recordable DVD players are just landing on the market. Samsung's hotly anticipated R2000 (list price $2,999) will be in Canadian stores later this month, but at press time Samsung couldn't confirm who in Toronto would stock the unit. Panasonic's $4,500 recordable DMRE10 is already available (by special order at Bay Bloor).
At these prices, Bowen observes, "If your recording needs run to time-shifting The Sopranos, you'll be better off putting a VCR on top of your DVD player. Good ones cost less than $200, and basic models are under $100."DVD dreams