Blu-ray Player Reviews

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Kris Deering  |  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  |  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.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 18, 2017  |  11 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-quality upconversion of Blu-rays and DVDs
Effective detail enhancement and noise reduction
Full-featured remote control
Minus
Doesn’t support YouTube 4K video streaming
No Vudu app
No Dolby Vision disc support
Pricey next to competition

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player’s excellent performance and solid build quality make it an easy choice for enthusiasts.

Looking back at format launches over the past two decades, it becomes clear that most first-gen players were clunkers, and pricey ones at that. Dig deep through the Sound & Vision archives (on the web, or in your personal print library—you have one of those, right?), and you’ll unearth reviews of the first Blu-ray player, Samsung’s BDP-1000. Priced at $1,000, this ungainly machine took about one minute to load a disc, did quirky stuff (like first converting progressive-scan signals to an interlaced format before outputting them as 1080p), and delivered pictures that looked soft in comparison with those delivered by the HD-DVD format Blu-ray was aggressively warring with at the time.

Kris Deering  |  Sep 12, 2018  |  10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-level video performance
In-player tone mapping for HDR and conversion to SDR
Multichannel analog output
Minus
Image enhancement options can be overwhelming
Setup not always intuitive
No 4K/HDR streaming support

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s UHD Blu-ray player offers reference-level video performance and also sets a new bar for HDR playback with both HDR flat-panel TVs and projectors.

Today’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player market is drastically smaller than the one for the spinning-disc machines of old. In my early days reviewing DVD players, I could literally enter an electronics store, walk out with over a dozen players, and that would only represent a sampling of the available models. But with the massive rise in the popularity of streaming, we’ve seen the player market continue to slim down.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 04, 2019  |  10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unique adjustability
Outstanding overall performance
Tank-like construction
Minus
Complex adjustments
Won't play SACDs

THE VERDICT
If you're in the market for an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player that can do everything you want, and plenty of things you didn't know you wanted, Panasonic's flagship model leaves little on the table.

When Panasonic introduced its flagship DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray player in early 2018, serious videophiles in the U.S. were set to drooling. Although a less expensive player, the DP-UDP820, had been widely available for some time, this new model clearly offered more. In late 2018, the New York A/V dealer Value Electronics ended up becoming the exclusive U.S. source for the DP-UB9000. That launch proved so successful that Panasonic's flagship player is now widely available, replacing the discontinued Oppo UDP-205 and UDP-203 players as the premium disc spinner du jour.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 23, 2016  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent UHD performance
Solid build quality
Good value
Minus
Limited streaming apps
Less-than-perfect 4K upconversion

THE VERDICT
It’s not without minor flaws, but the second UHD Blu-ray player on the U.S. market delivers a stellar picture from UHD discs at an attractive price.

The launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray players has now progressed from a slow drip to a trickle. Samsung was first with the UBD-K8500 (reviewed in our June issue and also available at soundandvision.com). At CEDIA, Sony showed its upscale UBP-X1000ES but won’t have it out till next spring and hasn’t announced pricing. Oppo’s new player is expected sometime this fall. And Panasonic’s own high-end DMP-UB900, at $700, became available in late September as we were going to press (watch for a future review).

David Vaughn  |  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  |  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.

David Vaughn  |  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.

David Vaughn  |  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  |  May 29, 2015  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-quality 4K video upconversion
Superb detail enhancement and noise reduction
Excellent digital-to-analog audio conversion
Minus
As pricey as it is heavy
Slim feature set compared with competition

THE VERDICT
Pioneer’s flagship 4K-upconverting universal disc player is something special, even if it’s late to the party.

What’s new in the world of Blu-ray? 4K, that’s what. Expected to arrive sometime in late 2015, the UHD Blu-ray format should offer not just UHD-resolution video but also high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities, an extended color gamut, and up to 16-bit color encoding, among other advanced features. Something to get excited about, right?

Now that I’ve dropped that tidbit, let me tell you about the Pioneer Elite BDP-88FD, a universal player that can handle Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, SACD, DVD-Audio, regular DVDs, and CDs—just about everything except UHD Blu-ray. And it lists for $2,000. Excited? No? Well, let’s see if we can work you up.

 |  Sep 16, 2007  |  0 comments

I know that technology moves fast these days, but we can hardly get a review of a Blu-ray Disc player out the door before a new model that supersedes it is released. And indeed, I received this Pioneer Elite BDP-94HD in August, just ahead of the rumors that a new player from Pioneer would be making its debut at CEDIA 2007 in early September.

Ultimate AV Staff  |  Jul 16, 2006  |  0 comments

<UL CLASS="square">
<LI>$1,500</LI>
<LI>Digital Video Output: HDMI</LI>
<LI>Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i/p</LI>
<LI>Audio Decoding: DD, MP3, WMA </LI>
<LI>Ins and Outs: HDMI, component, one each composite and S-Video, coaxial and Toslink digital audio, two-channel and 5.1-channel analog audio, Ethernet </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/706pioneerbdphd1.jpg" WIDTH=450 HEIGHT=135 BORDER=0>

 |  Dec 18, 2006  |  0 comments

Even though this format war is a pain in the butt, I have to admit that it's funner to come in to work than it's been in years. I'm getting a charge out of seeing the hardware and seeing my favorite movies come out in HD on a silver disc that I've probably not felt since my Laserdisc collection gave way to DVDs back in the late 90's. To the cynic the next-gen HD formats are an Enron-esque scheme to perpetuate royalty streams and to keep selling movie libraries over and over (and over) again. I acknowledge all that, and say, "hooray!"

Kris Deering  |  May 01, 2019  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-quality HDR to SDR conversion
SACD and DVD-Audio disc support
Detailed Info screen
Minus
No streaming apps or wireless connectivity
Somewhat tedious user interface
Occasional playback glitches

THE VERDICT
The UDP-LX500's universal disc support, high-quality onboard HDR tone mapping, and formidable build quality make it a welcome addition to the Ultra HD Blu-ray player scene.

It has now been a full year since Oppo Digital ceased production of its popular Ultra HD Blu-ray player lineup. Up until that point, Oppo was one of the few high- performance player options in a market concentrated on budget models packed with streaming features. We've since seen a few companies step up to fill the high-end player void, among them Pioneer, a company that produced numerous reference-level players back in the regular Blu-ray and DVD days. Pioneer's new offering, the UDP-LX500, is a universal disc player that supports playback of SACD and DVD-Audio discs. As you might expect, it sports both the Pioneer Elite logo and the high-end look and build associated with that iconic badge. At $1,099, it certainly has flagship pricing, so let's see if it measures up.

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