Originally Posted by webphilosopher
It is interesting to speculate as to how manufacturing costs could be lowered. We know that the Chinese players will have to have all the mandatory specs. We also know that the Broadcom chip will be an all-in-one solution for most, if not all, of these players. They will have to have an ethernet port, sufficient memory, secondary video for PiP, stereo True HD, etc. So where can costs be cut?
1. The drive: Will these all be Lite-on drives? If so, will they be less durable and reliable than Toshiba drives? The NEC drives in the first generation units seem to be the cause of many playback problems. Personally, I avoid Lite-on drives for computer use.
2. The audio: We can't expect Sharq processors or Burr-Brown DACs in the audio section, such as we found in the first generation units. For many reasons, I think the best audio in all of the Toshibas may be that found in the A1 and XA1.
3. The fan: Losing the fan would save some money. This could be both a blessing and a curse. Some people hate fan noise, but I can recall my overheating Apex that skipped madly unless I gave it a spot away from other electronics and outside of any enclosure.
4. The case: More plastic and less metal. This could affect both shielding and vibration control. That could result in lower quality audio playback at least.
5. The motherboard: All components could be bunched together on one circuit board. That could cause some interference, or it might not make any difference at all. The board itself could be made of a flimsier material which is more subject to heat and cold.
6. Small electronic components: Cheaper capacitors could be used, such as the exploding or leaking capacitors that found their way into many PC motherboards. These and other small components could be bought in bulk from the cheapest supplier.
7. Wiring: Cheap wiring, cheap connectors, budget ribbon cables. These may make little or no difference.
8. Power supply: Minimal capacity power supply.
9. Labor: It remains to be seen what working conditions and pay will be like at Great Wall and other mega-plants. More than likely, as with other Wal-Mart deals, these will be sweatshops where costs are cut to the bone and where there is intense pressure on both labor and management to deliver the goods at an impossibly low price.
On the whole, I think that the video quality on these units will match the video quality of the first generation units and the A2, but the audio will be of lower quality. I also think these units -- at least some of them -- will be of hit or miss quality due to volume manufacturing and little quality control. They may also have components that do not hold up over time and may therefore be like many other electronics items -- disposable commodities not worth fixing.
IMO you are taking a very negative view of cost reduction.
I think everything you said could come true....or not.
the question i asked earlier was about cost reduction, not quality reduction.
with broadcom/ms/toshiba basically doing the engineering i think it is possible to have a solid product that costs less then the current options.
drive - i think drives can be high quality and meet hd dvd specs regardless who makes them. i didn't see anything in your post about specific componensts that can be cost reduced in the drives without impacting quality. seems like buying parts in volume is the biggest cost reduction....unless there is an engineer out there that knows a bit more about the drive internals.
audio - all audio of any importance can go out over hdmi. getting rid of all the fancy analog stuff will cut a lot of cost and reduce power requirements.
fan - removing the fan might be reasonalbe with no impact on quality if most of the chips are eliminated/consoidated and the power required goes down enough.
case - case design can be simplified. less shielding is needed if there are fewer chips/wiires/connectors. vibration is a non issue for audio over hdmi.
motherboard - on the mother board quaity should go up with price going down. most of the components will be consolidated into fewer chips and there will be far far lfewer wires and connectors. IMO gen3 players should be much less likely to suffer from noise problems and wiring/connector problems then gen1/gen2. with fewer parts, the stacking of part tolerances will be reduced so the boards will be more consistently the same.
components - sure they can buy crap parts but that is not necessry. manufacturers spec out the part tolerances that are required and they test them to meet specifications. made in china is not equal to crap exploding capacitors.
side note: for example, car manufacturers look for ways to save 1/4 of a penny in car parts just due to the high volume of manufacture. a lot of the cost reduction is in trying to find subcontractors that can meet your specifications and have manufacturing facilities that are more efficient. anybody seriously worried about cheap chinese components should consdier what their kids are riding around in every day. take a look at how many ford f150s are made every year.
wiring - fewer wires, connectors. no need for low quality wires and connectors. just buy in high volume from a source that meets the specs.
power supply - getting rid of analog audio parts and consolidating digital into fewer chips should cut way down on power needed. a smaller power supply costs less.
labor - chinese labor costs less. if walmart sets a low quality bar i don't see what that has to do with labor. actually, that is my primary concern regarding walmart. IMO a lot of the time they settle for poor quality just to make a buck. but, according to the OP, this thread is not about walmart and anyway not everything in walmart is poor quality.
IMO the video can be the same for hd but might not be as good as toshiba players for sd. they could give these players less capable upconversion to reserve the highest quality for more expensive players.
IMO audio will be the same because of hdmi. with the exception that they could leave out trueHD 5.1 decoding.
Ethernet/USB should be the same.