AVS hysteria, which happens each time a popular DVD/HDD recorder model or brand is discontinued. The same scenario played out with the USA/Canada Panasonic EH55/75, Pioneer 560, and Toshiba XS series. People went nuts, and predatory sellers on eBay and Amazon asked for (and got) double the normal retail price for the leftover stock, or even used units. We are an obsessive bunch to begin with, and wajo's relentless 24/7 Magnavox hype on AVS, WalMart, J&R, and wherever else he can post makes this "discontinuation" more melodramatic than usual (plus if the Magnavox really goes, there's nothing left except old second-hand recorders).
What makes this time different from the others is that it isn't just the usual suspects on eBay and Amazon: the major retailer that has carried the Magnavox all along has also raised its prices significantly. This flies in the face of conventional retailer practice: when a product is discontinued, they want to get rid of any trace of it ASAP, so if anything they put it on sale. WalMart has gone in the reverse direction, jacking the price up 50%. So some other issue is in play here besides the presumed discontinuation of the 515.
Some members have theorized WalMart still likes the idea of being the only source of DVD/HDD recorders in USA, but has finally grown fed up with low profit margins being destroyed by legions of returned units that then flow downstream to J&R. The petition circulated here could have made WalMart try an experiment: jack up the price on the remaining supply of 515s, and if enough crazed consumers bite at that price, it becomes the new retail price going forward. This makes the decision to extend the contract with Funai more feasible, because the new model will be pitched at a higher initial price to defray the expected losses from returned units.
In the end, such a scheme would likely not be workable for long: the primary market of us AVS lunatics is already saturated. Seriously, how many here own a 2160, a 513 and a 515 and are willing to stockpile another two or three new "517s" @ $329? The stupid-cheap price point is the key to Magnavox dubious success over the last few years (dubious because no one is making a dime off $169 refurbs, and admit it: thats all 90% of us are interested in).
Wajo can talk anybody into a refurb 513 at $169, or a new 515 at $229, but when we hit $329 and up Joe Average tunes right out and digs his old VCR from the back of the closet. Power users with cable who were on the fence will view the Panasonic EH59 as a much more attractive unit than the Magnavox once the "new" Magnavox is selling for the same over-$300 price (unless they're hell-bent on using the Magnavox internal cable tuner, despite all the horror stories, in which case they deserve what they get). For $329, the alleged pending new Magnavox had better fix some longstanding issues- if its just a 515 with a larger HDD people will just sit back and wait for the J&R refurbs, and WalMart will lose once again.