Monday, January 16, 2012

Blu Ray Media Stores: Meritline Review

Best Blu Ray Media Online Stores Part 8: Meritline Review

Meritline, a well known CD and DVD media provider, largely specializes in a limited set of computer accessories. It carries a very small but well chosen Blu Ray media inventory which mixes low and high end products, with a preponderance in the low end.Its reputation in the CD/DVD world is very good, and we were interested in figuring out how well it would fare in the Blu Ray world.


Site and usability
Blu Ray media can be found on the Meritline site under CD/DVD Media -> Blu Ray Media.  Site speed is good, although not blazing fast, with 2.2 seconds per page average to display a right-clicked SKU. Of our wish list of 13 types of sorting and binning, Meritline provides a 5.5 of them: there is no way to select single/dual layer, quantity or printability, and only some speeds can be selected (2x and 4x), sorting cannot use best rating, most reviews or best selling, and it is not possible to view unit price. On the other hand, there is a Blu Ray category, it is possible to select type (BD-R/ BD-RE), manufacturer, and some speeds, sorting can be done by price, and user ratings can be viewed on the listing pages. To be fair, Meritline's inventory is so small that all products can be viewed in 2 short pages, so selecting and sorting are less needed than for stores with larger inventories.

Inventory and price
Meritline's inventory is limited to 47 Blue Ray media, at the low end rage of the industry, yet it still stocks 22% of our 89 Blu Ray test media, which ranks Meritline in the middle of the pack.  Meritline prices are on average 19.6% higher than the best price across our surveyed stores for media stocked by multiple stores, again roughly in the middle of the pack. Meritline has the best price for 4 SKUs, for a media stocked by more than one store, rating in the middle of the pack again. While Meritline's original inventory is truly very narrow, its selection is clearly well chosen, and prices are reasonable overall. Of the 6 media we selected as best archival grade Blu Ray media, Meritline stocks 3, for an average 40.9% over the best price across the industry, a very high overage that we cannot endorse.

User reviews
Meritline has an excellent set of user reviews for its size, totaling 250 reviews across it Blu Ray inventory. Many of its products (although not all) can be solidly evaluated based on its own user reviews.

Customer Service
Meritline is a proven source of optical media with a very well documented track record. It gathers more than 4,000 reviews on ResellerRatings with a very good 91% rating. On Google Shopping it gathers over 13,000 reviews, again with a very good 88%, although not perfect. Meritline receives a solid but not perfect 89% ConsumerPla.net predictive CS rating, also placing it in the middle of the pack.

Table: Meritline Blu Ray media review (see legend below)

Conclusion
Meritline is a specialized computer accessories site with a good reputation for optical media, and a limited but well chosen inventory. It scored in the middle of the pack among the stores with surveyed for all criteria - this is a very good result, as our deep survey sample gathered the best media stores we found. Meritline does not have a significant weakness. While its price are not the best in the industry, they are fair - and its customer service is good. However, the actual price of our basket of Blu Ray media selected for archival grade is unacceptably high. Altogether, Meritline would constitute a solid choice as a Blu Ray media store supplier, were it not for the problem of archival grade media pricing.

Next we review for NewEgg Blu Ray media... So come back soon!

Table Legend:
Total inventory: total number of Blu ray media SKUs on the site
Inventory %: percentage of ConsumerPla.net 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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