Originally Posted by UxiSXRD
Does Meridian design and build their own hardware or do they outsource that to a larger CE with their specifications and put their label on it?
Of course they do. Otherwise, it is a pretty neat trick to get people to pay so much more for them
Yes, there was a time when Meridian was buying CD players from Philips (circa 1983 when I first met Bob Stuart) and then modifying the analog portions to make them sound better. But those days are long gone. Today, it is pretty easy to source the core digital design from the myriads of DVD chip companies and then add value around that. You don't need to go to mass market companies to get such designs. Indeed, the mass market companies take the same chip designs, packaged them with little change and ship them under their names. It is the high-end companies who go back to the drawing board, and find and fix issues with audio clock jitter and such and over build everything at low volume so that they can squeeze the last bit of quality out of the format.
BTW, some high-end companies are going as far as building their own drives and optical pick ups. Mark Levinson comes to mind in this regard (they bought the Thomson optical unit a while back). This enables them to do things like using special motors that sound smooth and expensive when they open the drawer! Yes, these things matter when you sell such expensive equipment - kind of like the sound of a V-8 engine in a luxury sports car. I have not asked if Meridian does the same.
Could you see how Meridian's development compares with Onkyo and/or the various Chinese vendors?
They are nicely separated into four categories. Chinese will focus on competent playback of the format, ranking a clear step below Toshiba in overall consumer proposition. Onkyo will strive to build the next step up from Toshiba. Meridian will take this up quite a few notches higher yet, with price no object execution as they have done with their current products. So when it is all said and done, we will have a very nice range for HD DVD products for everyone from budget conscious to someone who wants to know they have bought the best - period.
Speaking of which, is Toshiba and/or Onkyo planning any additional feature sets for their players to distinguish them from the chinese players or will it be brand label alone that differentiates them?
Sure. There is a lot to industrial design, quality of playback of CD/DVD, usability of remote and integration with automation, feel of the machine, the channel and training, on-going support, etc. What they will all share is that they all play HD DVDs, including all the mandatory features, as do all the current DVD players. Beyond that, there is plenty of room for differentiation.