WalMart, the largest retailer in the world has announced it has began stocking the Magnavox NB500MG9, a Profile 1.1 BD player, for just $298. This is $100 less than a PlayStation 3.

In Blu-ray terms this is a significant mark-down in price from previous ‘budget’ releases.

And while it may be a budget deck, it doesn’t look like Magnavox – a sub-division of Philips – has scrimped on features.

Not only does the player have Bonus View capabilities, it also acts as a DVD upscaler to 1080p.

A quick glance at the rear panel shows the following connections: component video-out; HDMI v1.3 out; Audio-out; digital-out (coaxial); and video-out.

Audio-heads will be disappointed to hear that there’s no on board advanced codec decoder, but the player will reportedly bitstream hi-res audio out.

Two’s up

If a $300 BD player wasn’t enough to grab the retailer headlines, Walmart has also announced a cut to the price of the Samsung BD-P1500 Profile 2.0 BD-Live player. At $350 this is an absolute bargain, and will hopefully give Blu-ray the kick-start it needs and get the format not just into the living rooms of AV enthusiasts but everyday consumers as well . If only we lived in America.

WalMart was one of the most influential retailers in the success of DVDs. When it started to sell players at a similar price as the software, consumers bought in their droves.

A similar thing happened recently, when the supermarket giant chose Blu-ray over HD DVD as the format to sell. With the stocking of the NB500MG9 and BD-P1500, it looks like history is starting to repeat itself.

We have contacted Asda, which is owned by Wallmart, to see if the UK company will follow suit but it has not yet commented.