Review Round Up: $250 3D Blu-ray Players

Although 3D TV has grabbed its share of headlines over the past year, it appears that many consumers are still wary of the format. To cite one example, more than 70% of respondents in a recent survey sponsored by the cable TV industry said they wouldn’t consider buying a 3D TV in the next 12 months. Wouldn’t consider it! To these folks, plain old 2D movies at home look just fine, thanks. Watching 3D is something that you do while sitting in a squishy movie theater seat holding a bin of buttered popcorn and a 54-ounce Coke.

But even if a 3D TV isn’t on your holiday shopping list this year, there’s no reason why any Blu-ray player you buy shouldn’t also have 3D capability. You know, just in case. In fact, 3D ends up being just one more bullet point in a long list of features on the newest crop of players. You can also expect them to stream movies from services like Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon Video on Demand, and music from the likes of Pandora, Slacker, and Napster. Most can also link up with a computer via your home’s Wi-Fi network and pull video, music, and photos into your living room, where they can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch. And some can even be controlled via an iPhone or iPad using an app that you download from the iTunes store.

To get a handle on these new multitasking Blu-ray players, we called in a trio of models from big-name 3D TV makers LG, Panasonic, and Sony. Each player sells for $250. Along with sporting the features listed above, some also perform cool tricks like playing SACDs, or tapping the Gracenote media database to retrieve cover art and track listings for any music you happen to be playing — even songs featured in the soundtrack of a movie you’re watching! Of course, a key thing that all three have in common is the ability to play Blu-ray 3D movies in pristine 1080p resolution on a 3D TV. And it doesn’t matter which 3D TV you plug them into, because they’re all pretty much compatible with the lot of them. So, without further ado, let’s strap on our 3D goggles and get down to business.

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