The hidden costs of cheap DVD players: "Mike Langberg takes a look at some of the hidden costs of those cut rate $40, $30, and $20 DVD players that can be found these days (we saw a million of them at CES):
[Y]ou shouldn't ask how it's possible to buy a DVD player these days for under $40. These ultra-inexpensive machines, from no-name importers such as AMW, Apex, Coby, CyberHome, Mintek and Norcent, are surprisingly solid. Video and audio quality, along with reliability, are virtually as good as models costing twice as much from consumer-electronics giants such as Panasonic, Philips, RCA, Sony and Toshiba. But there are hidden costs. Horrific working conditions on assembly lines in China, heightened trade tensions with Asian nations and Wal-Mart store clerks paid so little they qualify for food stamps, are partially related to relentless pressure to sell popular products at eye-popping low prices.
He also looks at how anyone is able to sell a DVD player for so little. The answer: a combination of retailers willing to take a loss to bring customers into their stores and manufacturers who use cheap standard components and also frequently avoid paying the $10 to $15 royalties due for using patented DVD technology."