Friday, March 25, 2011

Blu Ray Media Stores: B&H Photo Review

Blu Ray blank media guide : Best Blu Ray media stores
Best Blu Ray Media Online Stores Part 4: B&H Photo Video Review

B&H Photo Video is well known to photo enthusiasts as a high quality, well priced online store with excellent customer support.  Its traditional rival is Adorama, which, however, is not really present in the Blu Ray media market a this time (we screened Adorama here).

Site and usability
Blu Ray media can be found on the B&H site under the Film, Tape, Media Tab: Film, Tape, Media -> CDs, DVDs and Other Blank Media. While they are under the same category as other optical media, it is not hard to isolate them, as there are specific selection bins for BD-R and BD-RE, which you can both select to get the equivalent of a Blu Ray category. With an average 2.0 seconds to display a right-clicked SKU, the site speed is decent, although not blinding fast. Of our wish list of 13 types of sorting and binning, B&H provides 9: you cannot select speed, cannot sort by best selling, or most reviews, and need to calculate price per disk by hand. On the other hand, you can access the equivalent of a Blu Ray category, select type (BD-R/ BD-RE), single/ dual layer, printability, quantity and manufacturer, sort by search relevance, price, manufacturer and best rating, and view user ratings on the listing pages.

Inventory and price
B&H Audio Video totals right now 63 SKUs for Blu Ray media, a relatively narrow inventory. It stocks a low 13% of our 89 test Blu Ray media - lowest of all of the reviewed stores, even with TapeOnline. B&H Video prices are on average 29.4% higher than the best price across our surveyed stores, third highest after Provantage and SuperMediaStore, and slightly ahead of and RunTechMedia. While, clearly, any store is, on average, higher than the best price (no store can have, on average, the best price for all media), 29.4% is high. B&H Audio Video matches best price for one SKU, for media stocked by more than one store. This is the lowest number across stores surveyed, even with Rima. Of the 6 best Blu Ray media we selected for archival grade storage, B&H stocks 2, with a 43.4% overprice over best price in the category.

User reviews
B&H Photo Video has a limited number of user reviews, for which the average ratings can be seen on the category listing pages. It totals 86 reviews across all Blu Ray media SKUs, which, given the total inventory, is not enough critical mass to reliably gauge the quality of specific Blu Ray media when shopping on the site.

Customer Service
Where B&H Audio Video truly stars is in customer service and support (CS). It has very large numbers of reviews both with ResellerRatings and Google Shopping, and gets outstanding 98% ratings from both, as well as a category-high 98% in our predictive CS rating, even with Rima and TapeOnline. Given its astonishingly high numbers of reviews as well as ratings, we can be sure of a very high quality of service.

Table: B&H Photo Video Blu Ray media review (see legend below)

B&H Audio Video is a general purpose shopping site, with decent site speed and sorting, narrow inventory, rather high prices on average, and outstanding customer service. While we cannot place it among the top online media stores, it is a good place to buy media if you are already shopping on the site for other items, as long as price is not an essential criterion.

Next we review Beach Audio for blank Blu Ray media... So come back soon!

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Table Legend:
Total inventory: total number of Blu ray media SKUs on the site
Inventory %: percentage of list of 89 Blu Ray media that can be found at the store
Inventory % for selected archival media: % of SKUs that we selected in our Blu Ray Media review for archival grade
Site sorting: how many types of sorts and bins are possible on the site (out of the 13 we listed in our wish list)
Average query speed: the average speed to display a right-clicked SKU  - measures browsing speed
Average overprice: How much % over best price, for all media present in more than one store

Average overprice for selected archival media: specifically how much % over best price for the media we selected for archival grade
# lowest priced SKUs: how many SKUs in the store equal best price (if more than one store carries them)
# user reviews: how many user reviews we found on the site for Blu Ray media
Predictive CS rating: our worst case analysis of the likely Customer Support rating for this store
explained here

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