Is it time to go Blu?

Is it time to go Blu?

Now that the format war with HD DVD is over, should hi-def television owners rush out and buy Blu-ray players?

Maybe. If you're looking for a good price, this could be the time to jump in.

"The prices of Blu-ray players were forced down by the war with HD DVD," said Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering Group. That price, which headed downward during the holiday buying season, is now about $400 for a mainstream Blu-ray player.

"Don't be surprised if they start to go up this summer," Doherty said.

Manufacturers of the players, such as Sony Corp. and Panasonic, will justify the higher prices with added features, he said. Basic models might become hard to find.

"I would not rule out Sony coming out with a model that has network video," Doherty said. "You could take your vacation videos and send them right to someone's HDTV."

Another possible enhancement: a jukebox-type player that could be loaded with multiple Blu-ray disks.

By the end of the year, upgraded Blu-ray 2.0 players are expected to hit stores with online connectivity as a standard feature.

If you don't care about having the latest and greatest, this might be the time to buy.

Still, no matter what enhancements come along, prices on consumer electronic goods always seem to head down eventually.

A major case in point are DVD players that sold for $1,000 and more when introduced in the United States in 1997. Now they're commonly available for less than $50.

But Doherty thinks prices for Blu-ray machines will not plunge quickly.

"This is a really advanced laser system," he said. "It's not the kind of thing that can be knocked off in China overnight."