With HD-DVD dead and buried, computer makers are moving to Blu-ray. Dell is now offering 15.4-inch laptop with a Blu-ray drive for less than $900--impressive since some standalone Blu-ray players still cost nearly as much. HP, Acer and Asus are also offering laptops with Blu-ray drives.
The Inspiron 1525 is available with a Blu-ray drive in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In the U.S., the $879 base configuration also includes the 15.4-inch, 1,280x800 resolution display; 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5550; 1GB of memory; an 80GB hard drive; and Vista Home Basic. Choosing the drive adds $180 to the price of the $599 system. You can also select a Blu-ray burner for $480, bringing the total price to $1,079. If you want the high-resolution display (1,440x900), it will add another $50 to the price.
Since the Inspiron 1525 has Intel integrated graphics, Dell is using Broadcom's media PC technology to shoulder the Blu-ray burden. Media PC is a set of chips that handle high-definition video and audio decoding, and HD-DVD and Blu-ray video playback. Computer makers can put the chips down on the motherboard, or use an add-in card (PCI Express, PCI Express mini-card or ExpressCard). Acer and Toshiba also use Broadcom's media PC chipsets in Blu-ray and HD-DVD laptops. A Blu-ray burner is also available on the higher-end Dell XPS M1530, which has discrete graphics.
HP offers a Blu-ray drive on the similar Pavilion dv6700t, but you must upgrade from the Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics to the 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS ($49). A similarly configured dv6700t (15.4-inch, 1,280x800 display; 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Processor T5550; 1GB of memory; 120GB hard drive; and Vista Home Premium) currently costs $1,039 with a Blu-ray drive. HP doesn't offer a Blu-ray burner with this model.
Acer sells a 15.4-inch model with a Blu-ray drive, the Aspire 5920 (AS5920-6329), in the U.S. But it is a higher-end model with a 2.50GHz Core 2 Duo T9300, 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 8600M GS graphics. CDW is selling it for $1,796. The recently-announced 16-inch Aspire 6920G will also have a Blu-ray drive.
Finally Asus also offers a 15.4-inch model (the M51SN-AS037G) with a Blu-ray drive. It includes a 2.60GHz Core 2 Duo T9500, 3GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, and 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9500M GS graphics. The M51 series was announced earlier this year, but so far it is tough to find this model in the U.S.