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Why Can't I Get an In-Car Blu-ray Player?

24 Dec, 2011 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I am about to install a new DVD player in my car, to replace the old broken one that came with the SUV when we bought it back in July 2005.

That’s right, a DVD player.

I’d love to put in a Blu-ray Disc player, but, alas, every car place I called said there isn’t one, primarily because the inability to make a 10-inch screen show true high-definition. “It’s at least eight to 10 years off, from what I hear,” one installer told me.

That got me to searching the web, and I became increasingly frustrated. Several stories about manufacturers producing Blu-ray Disc players for cars popped up, but try to buy one and you’re out of luck. At the 2007 Toyko Motor Show, Panasonic unveiled the first Blu-ray player to be used specifically inside an automobile. No further word was heard until April 2009, when Panasonic said it was getting ready to launch the world’s first “in-car Blu-ray player” in Japan. At the same time, Mitsubishi said it was getting ready to offer an in-car Blu-ray Disc player, as well.

Fast-forward to January 2011. Engadget carried a report headlined “Audiovox shows off the industry's first in-car Blu-ray player, the AVDBR1.” The story said the player is “due in the spring with an MSRP of $349.99,” and “is even BD-Live compatible with optional WiFi upgrade, available after a firmware update arrives later this year.”

All right, everyone. You have whetted my appetite. I want to buy one. I’d gladly fork over “MSRP of $349.99,” or whatever else I need to.

So why can’t I buy one? The inability to manufacture the right kind of screen is a sorry excuse. At least give me a car player that will play my Blu-ray Discs, even if the monitor isn’t HD. It’s a convenience thing, and I think we as an industry are sending consumers a very bad message by not giving them an in-car device that will play Blu-ray Discs. It fuels the “this is a half-baked format” perception, and coming more than five years after the format launched is simply, utterly, completely ridiculous.

I know there are other options. We can buy a combo pack, store the Blu-ray Disc with our home theater and pack the DVD in our car. Or we can download a digital copy and watch it on our notebook or smartphone. But that isn’t the point. We are being told Blu-ray Disc is the format of the present, and that DVD is obsolete. And yet we still can’t buy a Blu-ray Disc player for the car; if we want to keep the kids happy during a long road trip, we need to take a step back in time and buy a DVD player.

It simply makes no sense.


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