3D BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS

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Kris Deering Posted: Apr 26, 2013 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,299 At A Glance: Reference audio and video • HDMI and digital audio inputs • Built-in 192 kHz audio upsampling

They say that imitation is the ultimate form of flattery; I say if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. In the last few years, we’ve seen a few high-end Blu-ray players use the popular Oppo Digtal Blu-ray player as the core of their design, with at least one manufacturer having even taken it as far as dropping a complete Oppo BDP-83SE chassis into a different cabinet with a new faceplate and charging $3,000 more for it (only to be exposed later).

With the Azur 752BD, Cambridge Audio utilizes only the core video components and transport, which adds its own analog audio section and execution.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2010 0 comments
3D Leaps Out

It’s been a long road from 1952’s Bwana Devil to 2009’s Avatar, but 3D in your local cineplex is now a big-time, going concern. But as we discussed in "3D: The Next Big Thing?", HDTV manufacturers are determined to bring the experience home. 3D was the star of the show at January’s CES, and 3D-capable sets are beginning to show up at your local big-box retailer. By year’s end, you’ll see 3D HDTVs from virtually all major manufacturers.

David Vaughn Posted: Aug 25, 2011 4 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $350 At A Glance: Fast loading of Blu-ray Discs • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Vudu HDX streaming • Spiffy new Netflix interface

History has a way of repeating itself, and we’re beginning to see similarities between Blu-ray and DVD. While Blu-ray’s penetration rate will probably never equal DVD’s, the prices of hardware and software are now dropping to levels that don’t turn off the average consumer. But is this necessarily a good thing? With DVD, you bought the player, and it pretty much worked until it dropped. With a Blu-ray player, you need to update the firmware the moment you unbox it, and this event repeats itself quarterly to accommodate quirky BD+ copy protection on new disc releases. Then there are the firmware updates gone awry—the occasional “fix” that introduces more problems than it solves. When that happens, a company’s ability to respond to trouble becomes critical. But if the manufacturers don’t make enough money selling players, they can’t easily justify the timely updates and prompt service their customers deserve. While I love a great bargain as much as the next guy, it’s also important to consider the manufacturer’s record of after-purchase support.

David Vaughn Posted: Aug 14, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $150 At A Glance: Fast loading of Blu-ray Discs • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bevy of streaming options • No additional memory needed for BD-Live

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) requires mutual fund companies to tell investors that a fund’s past performance does not necessarily predict future results—and the same could be said of Blu-ray players. In the case of LG, I’ve had the opportunity to audition its top-of-the-line offering for each of the past four years. In 2009, the company’s BD390 (Home Theater, January 2010) was the fastest player I’d ever used, and in July 2010, I awarded its BD590 a Top Pick because of its solid Blu-ray performance and plethora of streaming services. Unfortunately, in 2011 LG dropped the ball with the BD690 (Home Theater, September 2011) with faulty firmware releases and buggy disc playback.

David Vaughn Posted: Nov 09, 2012 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Impeccable build quality • 4K x 2K video output • The first Blu-ray player with HDMI inputs

We’ve come a long way since Blu-ray hit the market in 2006. Back then, players retailed for over $1,000, took more than a minute to boot up, and as long as two and a half minutes to load a disc. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the user experience with Blu-ray is now approaching that of a DVD player—although we’ll never get rid of the frequent firmware updates thanks to Hollywood’s piracy fears.

Kris Deering Posted: Feb 07, 2014 20 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Darbee video enhancements
DSD file support
Zero-compromise video playback
Minus
Still looking for one

THE VERDICT
Our Top Pick Blu-ray player only gets better with onboard Darbee video processing and full support for DSD file playback.

Awarding a Top Pick rating is always a big deal with us, but I don’t think we’ve ever had two Top Pick products merge into one. That, however, is exactly what we have with Oppo’s latest generation of Blu-ray players, the BDP-103D and BDP-105D. The second D stands for Darbee Edition, as Oppo has thrown Darbee video processing right into the players. I reviewed the Darbee Darblet DVP 5000 standalone video processor in 2012 and proclaimed it a must-have for making the most out of your display. But the BDP-103D, reviewed here, is more than just a BDP-103 with Darbee processing. Oppo has done a few more tweaks to their player, making it an even stronger Top Pick than before.

Kris Deering Posted: Jan 24, 2013 23 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,199 At A Glance: Reference audio and video processing for other components • Asynchronous USB DAC • Bit-perfect video playback performance

Last year, I had the opportunity to review the Halo P 7 multichannel preamplifier from Parasound (Home Theater, June 2012). For that review, I mated the P 7 with Oppo’s then flagship Blu-ray player, the BDP-95, and it was a match made in heaven. I didn’t do a formal review of the BDP-95, but I made sure I conveyed how highly I thought of the reference Blu-ray player in the review and how its outstanding analog audio section was one of the best I’ve used. For this review, I got to try out Oppo’s successor to the BDP-95, the BDP-105, which builds on the BDP-95’s design and adds some features I honestly never thought I’d see in a Blu-ray player. In fact, I don’t even know if I would categorize the BDP-105 as a straight Bluray player, as it could easily be identified as a digital processor given its new connectivity and processing features for both audio and video. Whatever you want to call it, the BDP-105 shows once again that Oppo isn’t afraid of disrupting the industry and raising the already incredible bar set by its previous products.

Shane Buettner Posted: Feb 12, 2010 0 comments
Price: $899 At A Glance: Reference Blu-ray and DVD performance • Significant audio upgrade at a reasonable price • Excellent speed and ergonomics • Terrific disc compatibility

The Best Has Gotten Better

With all of the resources that are available to the Blu-ray Disc Association’s major manufacturers, it’s remarkable that the first company to cure the ills of standalone Blu-ray players was Oppo Digital with its $499 BDP-83 (HT, September 2009). Upon that player’s release, many enthusiasts were using the PlayStation 3 for its speed and reliability. Standalone players were too slow and prone to disc incompatibility issues. They also had a hodgepodge of hardware profiles and decoding and interactivity features that bewildered consumers. When Oppo’s BDP-83 came along, it did everything that a Blu-ray player should do, and it did it right and fast. In short, it was a next-gen Blu-ray player that acted like one. That player earned Home Theater’s Top Pick of the Year in Source Components and overall Product of the Year for 2009 (HT, November 2009). Plus, it earned a check from me to Oppo. The BDP-83 I bought last year as a reference has been bulletproof during the time I’ve owned it. Compatibility issues have been few and far between. But when they’ve come up, Oppo has acted swiftly with hassle-free firmware updates from the Internet. It has been so bulletproof that it’s difficult to imagine changing it out or upgrading it.

David Vaughn Posted: Apr 22, 2011 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Flawless playback of Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D Discs • Outstanding build quality • The best customer support in the industry

Oppo Ups the Ante

The Blu-ray format has seen its fair share of changes since its introduction in 2006. Its initial launch included players with base playback functionality and poisonously slow boot-up and disc-loading times. Then came BonusView-enabled players, which added a minimum 256 megabytes of local storage with secondary audio and video decoders for picture-in-picture. Next were the BD-Live-capable players. These required an Internet connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and a minimum of 1 gigabyte of local storage (sometimes purchased separately), which allowed access to mostly useless online content. After the wild success of Avatar, the studios have jumped into 3D with both feet. Blu-ray 3D players now support a maximum data rate of 72 megabits per second (up from 48 Mbps in previous generations), include HDMI 1.4, and of course, these players support 3D video, 3D menus, and 3D subtitles.

David Vaughn Posted: Aug 17, 2011 4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $999 At A Glance: Flawless playback of Blu-ray 2D and 3D discs • Audiophile analog performance for less than $1k • Outstanding build quality and first-class customer service

Oppo Blu-ray players have been a fixture in Home Theater's Top Picks section since the introduction of the BDP-83 in 2009. Earlier this year, we added its successor, the BDP-93, to the list due to its flawless playback of Blu-ray Discs, speed of operation, 3D capability, and streaming services from Netflix and Vudu. But good companies don't rest on their laurels, and Oppo has released an audiophile version of the player, the BDP-95, featuring the same reference-quality digital video processing with a beefed-up analog section for those who love their two-channel audio or who haven't upgraded to an HDMI-based AVR or surround processor and want the best audio possible for 7.1-channel soundtracks. Since the BDP-95 is identical to the BDP-93 in terms of video and digital audio, I'll concentrate on the upgraded analog audio here; for more on the rest of the player, see the review of the BDP-93.

Kris Deering Posted: Jul 13, 2011 6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $200 At A Glance: Skype video calling • Reference-quality Blu-ray playback • Limited HDMI options

Building Blu-ray Bridges

Since the beginning of the Blu-ray format, Panasonic has been a leader in the price/performance segment of the market and my go-to recommendation for anyone who’s looking for excellence on a budget. From the top to the bottom of Panasonic’s line, you always seem to get stellar video with both Blu-ray and DVD playback—and typically a host of other great features as well.

Kris Deering Posted: Sep 27, 2012 12 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $150 At A Glance: Reference-quality Blu-ray playback • Full 3D support including 2D-to-3D conversion • Lots of streaming options

It will be interesting to see where the Blu-ray player market goes in the next few years. We reached a point of diminishing returns on the newer lines of players. The Bluray spec hasn’t changed since the adoption of 3D, so there’s nothing new to add, and just about every device out there has an insurmountable number of streaming features. But that could have been said about last year’s models. Prices continue to drop, along with the size of the players, yet there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go if you want something truly different from a player going forward. Maybe this is where the rumored 4K Blu-ray will make its entrance and reinvigorate the market. Still, the quality of player you can now get for just over a hundred bucks is impressive, and Panasonic’s latest is about all you can ask for if you want reference-quality Blu-ray playback and cutting-edge streaming features.

Kris Deering Posted: Dec 24, 2013 3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-resolution audio chops
Reference-quality 2D and 3D Blu-ray playback
Streaming-video paradise
Minus
No support for SACD, DVD-Audio, or DSD formats

THE VERDICT
Spectacular video performance at a budget price point, but not the best choice for true audiophiles.

How things have changed since Blu-ray arrived on the scene. Debut players from the larger electronics companies were pretty full-featured, with substantial build quality. Now it seems that most mass-consumer players are in a race to the bottom when it comes to price and build. While I understand that’s probably the market most of the country buys in, I’m always surprised that most of the big names in consumer electronics don’t keep at least one model for enthusiasts who don’t want to buy a featherweight piece of plastic for a principal player in their home entertainment system. Panasonic evidently feels the same way this year.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 14, 2011 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $400 At A Glance: Solid build quality• Speedy loading • Plays SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu-ray 3D • Streams Netflix, Pandora • Possible connection issues

Pioneer’s involvement in optical-disc technology started with the development of Laserdisc late in the 20th century, and the company has continued the tradition with CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Surprisingly, despite the company’s background and solid history of new product development, it hasn’t been at the forefront of Blu-ray player innovation. The last player I reviewed from Pioneer was in 2009 (the BDP320). It offered fantastic audio and video, but its load times were poisonously slow and it offered no add-on features like streaming or DVD-Audio and SACD support.

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 24, 2012 0 comments

Most new Blu-ray players are cheap enough and perform well enough that there isn’t an urgent need to differentiate between (read: review) them.

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