BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS

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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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 11, 2006 0 comments

We've waited what seems like an eternity for a top performing Blu-ray Disc player to challenge the head start HD DVD seized when it hit stores this past spring. Blu-ray's launch was dampened by the format's first player being the underperforming and poorly reviewed Samsung BD-P1000, which shipped with an incorrect noise reduction chip setting that caused soft imagery but that has since been corrected by a firmware update (a <I>UAV</I> follow-up is pending).

Ultimate AV Staff Posted: Jul 16, 2006 0 comments

<UL CLASS="square">
<LI>$1,300</LI>
<LI>Digital Video Output: HDMI</LI>
<LI>Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i/p</LI>
<LI>Audio Decoding: NA </LI>
<LI>Ins and Outs: NA </LI>
<LI>Feature Highlights: Blu-ray Disc Player, upconversion of standard-def DVDs to 720p or 1080i/p via HDMI</LI>
</UL>
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/706panasonicdmpbd10.jpg" WIDTH=450 HEIGHT=115 BORDER=0>

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 26, 2007 0 comments

We've almost become jaded with the rapid rollover of high-definition disc players. Some manufacturers are now on third generation models, and ready to launch a fourth generation at the January 2008 CES. But even with that, Panasonic surprised everyone a few short weeks ago with the announcement of the DMP-BD30, its second-generation design. While a number of significant mid-year revisions to the DMP-BD10, the company's first player, resulted in its re-badging as the DMP-BD10AK, it remained essentially the same design throughout production.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 17, 2007 0 comments
We've almost become jaded with the rapid rollover of high-definition disc players. Some manufacturers are now on third generation models, and ready to launch a fourth generation at the January 2008 CES. But even with that, Panasonic surprised everyone several weeks ago with the announcement of the DMP-BD30, its second-generation design.
Kris Deering Posted: Dec 15, 2008 0 comments
Price: $299, $399 At A Glance: Full complement of onboard audio decoding • Exceptional video processing • Bonus View and BD-Live compliant • Plays back DVD at 1080p/24

Hot on the heels of the DMP-BD50 (HT, September 2008), Panasonic has debuted two new players, the DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55. Despite the DMP-BD50’s recent release, these two players replace the current DMP-BD30 and DMP-BD50 models. These new players are identical except for their analog audio outputs. The DMP-BD35 only has a two-channel analog output, while the more expensive DMP-BD55 supports 7.1 channels of analog audio. All the other features are the same, so for this roundup, I’ll fuse these two players together in regards to performance unless otherwise noted.

Panasonic slimmed down its players this time around, and the new lineup reminded me a bit of the Sony BDP-S350 in form and stature. The chassis is slightly shorter than the last generation and isn’t quite as deep. The disc tray is now located in the center, and there’s a small flip-down panel on the bottom right with Play, Stop, and Pause buttons, along with the SD card slot. Aesthetically, the new player has the same design cues as the previous line, with a tinted front-display readout and a hidden disc tray. It still retains that bright blue LED right below the tray, but you can turn it off through the Setup menu’s display options.

David Vaughn Posted: Jun 28, 2008 0 comments

It has been two years since Blu-ray trickled onto the scene with the launch of the Samsung BD-P1000 and some less-than-stellar-looking movies. The combination of a faulty player setting and some poor-quality masters had many wondering if Blu-ray could challenge HD DVD for consumers' hard earned dollars.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 01, 2008 0 comments

With the end of the format war fading in the rear-view mirror, manufacturers of Blu-ray players have one last obstacle to overcome to help bring Blu-ray into the mainstream&mdash;make a dedicated player that provides the user experience of the Sony PlayStation 3. (Okay, they must also bring the price down to DVD levels in order to <I>really</I> reach the mainstream.) In addition to delivering a first-rate audio/video experience, players must also offer a user experience on par with DVD.

Kris Deering Posted: Jun 01, 2009 0 comments
Price: $300 At A Glance: Viera Cast delivers ho-hum connectivity experience • Exceptional video processing • Full interactivity and audio decoding

It seems like just yesterday that I reviewed the DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 players (HT, December 2008). But Panasonic spared little time getting its replacements out into the market. This was almost a blink, and you’ll miss the window for the DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55. Panasonic just introduced the DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD80, which are nearly identical to the models they’re replacing. But this time around, Panasonic has jumped into the streaming video craze and added Viera Cast to both players. This widget-based portal to Internet-derived content is similar to what Panasonic includes in its flat-panel HDTV line.

For this roundup, I’m looking at the DMP-BD60 ($300). It lacks the DMP-BD80’s 7.1-channel analog outputs, but it still shares many core components and features with its big brother.

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: Nov 10, 2009 0 comments
Price: $399 At A Glance: Pioneer’s first BD-Live player • Exceptional video processing • Slow boot-up and disc loading, especially on Java-intensive discs

With a long history in optical disc technology, Pioneer has been slow to develop new and innovative features in its Blu-ray players. While its previous offerings have been on the upper end of the pricing range, the company’s players have left a lot to be desired. Last fall, I reviewed the Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD player for our sister publication, UltimateAVMag.com. While I was very impressed by its sturdy build quality, it was unreliable, with lip-sync issues and player lockups. It also couldn’t internally decode DTS-HD Master Audio. Granted, a firmware upgrade eventually fixed most of these issues, but the DTS-HD Master Audio upgrade didn’t happen until early this summer—more than six months later than Pioneer promised. As a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, you’d expect Pioneer’s players to be among the most innovative on the market. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.

But that’s all in the past. The Pioneer BDP-320 brings a lot to the table at half the cost of the Elite branded BDP-05FD. The BDP-320 is BD-Live compliant and has 1 gigabyte of internal memory. Memory is also expandable via the USB port on the back of the player. The back panel includes one HDMI 1.3a output with support for 48-bit Deep Color (not supported by either DVD or Blu-ray), an Ethernet port, component output, and 7.1 analog audio for consumers with legacy equipment that lacks HDMI inputs.

Kris Deering Posted: Dec 15, 2008 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Slow disc loading and operation • Great build quality • Improved HD and SD video processing • Full 7.1 analog and digital audio support

Pioneer unveiled its first non-Elite Blu-ray player with the BDP-51FD. At first glance, its large chassis and high-gloss appearance might make you think it’s an Elite line player. However, this player is the first of the classic Pioneer line.

The BDP-51FD is a Profile 1.1 player that supports Bonus View features but lacks a LAN connection and BD-Live support. At $599, I was a bit surprised that it lacks BD-Live or an upgrade path to BD-Live, but the rest of the feature set is pretty impressive.

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