New Tech 2010: 3D Blu-ray Players

Samsung BD-C6900

Key Features
1. With its translucent top, Samsung’s BD-C6900 gets our vote for best-looking new Blu-ray player. Along with looking good, it does 3D Blu-ray, Vudu, Netflix, and Pandora.

2. With a panel depth of 0.3 inches, Samsung’s C9000 Series TVs set the standard for flat. The set’s remote control has an LCD touchscreen that you can also watch TV on.

3. Several of Panasonic’s plasma TV lines, including the G25 model shown here, feature a new Infinite Black Panel design that delivers deep, Kuro-like blacks.
4. Vizio’s prototype 21:9 aspect ratio LCD was an eye-opener at CES. The company actually plans to start selling the 58-inch ultrawide TV sometime in late 2010.

Panasonic is betting big-time on 3D, so it’s only natural that the company would have a matching Blu-ray Disc player to feed 3D movies to its new TVs. the DmP-BDT350 is a 3Dcapable model that provides dual HDMI outputs: one to feed 3D video straight to a display, and a second to route audio signals to a receiver. the apparent reason for this is to get around any potential HDMI switching issues (like your current A/V receiver’s HDMI connections not being able to pass 3D signals, for example — yikes!). the BDT350’s other features include Viera Cast media streaming with Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube, Picasa, Pandora, and twitter, as well as an SD card slot for viewing digital still pictures and videos shot with HD camcorders.

Sony is also covering all of its 3D bases by releasing a 3D-capable Blu-ray player, the BDP-S770, along with a trio of 3D-ready models. When it arrives this summer, the BDP-S770 will have built-in Wi-Fi plus 1 gigabyte of internal memory, and it can be controlled by an iPhone/iPod touch using Sony’s free BD Remote app. Interestingly, the BDP-S770 also supports SACD, the high-resolution audio format that Sony helped to develop and then strangely turned its back on by failing to incorporate support for it in past Blu-ray players.

Sony’s 3D-ready lineup consists of the BDP-S570 ($250) and BDP-S470 ($200), both of which are available right now. (A firmware upgrade scheduled for this summer will enable 3D playback.) Aside from standing at the ready to play 3D movies, the BDPS570 (reviewed on page 64) has many of the same features found on the S770. And the BDP-S470 is basically the same as the S570, minus a few features such as built-in Wi-Fi and internal memory.

Two other companies that have announced 3D Blu-ray players are Samsung and Toshiba. Not much is known yet about Samsung’s BD-C6900 other than it will have built-in Wi-Fi, play 3D discs, and stream media from content partners Netflix, Vudu, blockbuster, and Pandora. It also looks cool, with a see-through cover that lets you ogle spinning discs during playback. As for Toshiba’s BDX3000, it will play 3D movies, stream audio/video from Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, and Pandora via built-in Wi-Fi, and is scheduled to arrive sometime in the second half of 2010.