BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS

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Kris Deering Posted: Jun 01, 2009 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Extremely responsive • Fast load times • Pandora and Netflix streaming • Full interactivity and audio decoding • Wireless Internet connectivity

Samsung has delivered some solid Blu-ray offerings in the past. The company hasn’t been shy about including high-end video processing, and it’s quick to adopt new features for its lineup. The new BD-P3600 is no exception. It comes with $100 tacked onto its price tag compared with the other players in this roundup, but you may find some interesting features that are worth the investment. At $400, it’s the most feature-laden player of this group and includes onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, 7.1-channel analog outputs, Netflix streaming, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The BD-P3600 is a very sleek-looking player that takes a minimalist approach to aesthetics. The front panel is jet black, and only the tray is obvious. It also has a garish-looking sticker that flaunts the player’s advanced features. Personally, I’m a silkscreen guy when it comes to logos. I think manufacturers should skip the cheap-looking stickers on their players’ front panels.

Kris Deering Posted: Mar 04, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: BD-Live, storage included • Outstanding build quality • Great DVD playback • Full advanced audio decoding • Limited HD video processing • Average load times

Elevating the Blu-ray Standard?

Sony’s Elevated Standard (ES) products have long been at the respected upper end of the company’s product line. I remember Sony’s early ES DVD players were the cat’s meow in terms of solid video performance and features. If you wanted reference-quality DVD playback early on in the format, you wanted an ES player. Now Sony has delivered two ES branded Blu-ray players. For this review, I’m going to look at its new flagship, the BDP-S5000ES.

Kris Deering Posted: Feb 23, 2009 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Netflix streaming • Average usability • BD-Live support • Outstanding HD and SD video processing by Silicon Optix HQV

Streaming in Blu

Samsung was the first consumer electronics company to bring a Blu-ray player to market. Since then, the company has released quite a few players with varying degrees of performance. With the BD-P2500, Samsung delves into another market for the first time—video on demand. In the January issue, I reviewed the LG BD300, which was the first player to incorporate Netflix streaming capabilities. The BD-P2500 brings this same feature to the fold and includes some other features that the LG lacks.

Kris Deering Posted: Jan 05, 2009 0 comments
Price: $350 At A Glance: Netflix streaming • Fast load times and operation • Bonus View and BD-Live capable • Limited video processing, advanced audio decoding

LG Breaks New Ground

LG has been one of the most innovative companies out there championing Blu-ray. Early in the format war, LG tried twice to provide a solution for consumers with combo Blu-ray/HD DVD players. While its first attempt didn’t support HD DVD’s full capabilities, the follow-up BH200 was a fully functional player for both formats. It was Bonus View capable and offered Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and 24p playback for both formats. It remains a solid player today, and I have one in my rack.

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.

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.

uavKim Wilson Posted: Dec 11, 2008 0 comments

LG has introduced something new with the BD300. In addition to being a full-featured Blu-ray player, it can also stream movies from Netflix, which explains the unique product designation—network Blu-ray player. The BD300 offers a number of key features we've come to expect from Blu-ray players, such as bitstream output of the advanced audio codecs, BonusView, BD-Live, and 24fps output for compatible video displays.

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: Nov 17, 2008 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Affordable BD-Live performance • Great DVD playback performance • Lacks multichannel analog audio support

More Blu for Your Budget

The BDP-S350 is Sony’s follow-up to the popular BDP-S300. One of the most inexpensive standalone players on the market, the BDP-S350 includes some great new features that the BDP-S300 design didn’t have. Sony overhauled its form factor, with a case that’s nearly half the size of the company’s earlier players. The player also employs a sleek new interface that uses Sony’s popular Xross Media Bar. While player prices have not headed farther south yet, the bang-for-the-buck factor is going up, as players at the lower end of the market add more essential features. Sony’s $400 player is BD-Live ready (firmware update pending), Bonus View PiP capable, and includes bitstream support for the next-gen lossless audio formats from Dolby and DTS.

David Vaughn Posted: Oct 30, 2008 0 comments

Founded in 1938 in Tokyo, Japan, Pioneer has a long history of making quality audio and video products. Its involvement in optical-disc technology started with the development of Laserdisc and includes a prominent role in DVD and Blu-ray technology.

uavKim Wilson Posted: Sep 23, 2008 0 comments

The Sony BDP-S350 is the latest Blu-ray player from the company that invented the format. This is an upgrade from its previous entry-level model, the <A href="http://ultimateavmag.com/hddiscplayers/707sonys300/">BDP-S300</A>, offering more features and options. The blue brushed-aluminum faceplate, similar to the design of the top-end ES series, is attractive and elegant and sure to add some class to all your black components.

Kris Deering Posted: Sep 15, 2008 0 comments
Introduction
Joshua Zyber Posted: Aug 04, 2008 0 comments
Can Blu-ray be more than the next Laserdisc?

Although I don’t usually pay attention to such things, the other day as I was opening a recent Blu-ray purchase, I took note of the “Compatible with PlayStation 3” sticker that either the studio or the retailer had attached to the shrink wrap. It was trivial, hardly worth glancing at, but it got me thinking about how closely the Blu-ray format is tied to Sony’s multipurpose game console. Of course, I seem to recall similar stickers about the PlayStation 2 appearing on early DVD releases, but the situation is very different now. DVD’s benefits over its VHS and Laserdisc predecessors were so obvious that the format achieved explosive growth, and its success was never dependent on just one playback machine. Certainly, the PS2 brought DVD into a lot of homes very quickly, but standalone players and computer drives were equally (and soon more) popular with the public. Everyone wanted DVD, whether they wanted a game console to go with it or not.

uavKim Wilson Posted: Jul 21, 2008 0 comments

The BD-P1500 is Samsung's fourth-generation Blu-ray player. Its elegant high-gloss, piano-black chassis is sure to stand out in any equipment rack. While dedicated Blu-ray players haven't reached rock-bottom prices yet, the BD-P1500 is Samsung's least expensive to date at $400, $150 less then the BD-P1400 that came out less than a year ago. The BD-P1500 is not the holy grail of Blu-ray players, but its feature set and lower price could be just what you've been waiting for.

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.

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