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Blu-ray Player Buying Guide

Posted September 29, 2012 05:21 PM by Tony Sanchez

Samsung BD-P1000

Introduction



First generation Blu-ray players were initially released to the market on June 2006 and since that time plenty has changed. Early Blu-ray players were bulky, slow, and costly. Features, connectivity and reliability were also limited as the Blu-ray format was still evolving. The PlayStation 3 was launched on November 2006 and quickly became the Blu-ray player of choice for gamers and videophiles alike. The PS3 offered fast loading of Blu-ray Discs, built in Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, and better reliability than other Blu-ray players in the market. The PlayStation 3 offered more while selling for about half the retail price of standalone Blu-ray players.

Much has changed in the last six years as Blu-ray players continued to improve. Current Blu-ray players are fast, reliable, and sell for a fraction of the cost of their predecessors. Most players now offer Ethernet/Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming Internet content, automated notification of firmware updates, internal decoding of lossless audio formats, BD Live and Bonus View features, picture controls, DVD upscailing, stellar HD picture quality, and more. BD players have evolved over the last few years into a versatile home theater component capable of filling many entertainment roles.

Exciting new features have been added to the latest player models. Options such as Blu-ray 3D, 2D-to-3D conversion, social media apps, dual HDMI outputs, DLNA capability, online streaming media services, mobile device control, wireless or USB keyboard support, and 4K upscailing are now available from your preferred player brand. With so many choices available for your purchase decision, sorting through the various options to find the right model can become a trying process for some consumers. First, let's examine some important features that should be considered in the Blu-ray player buying analysis.


Buyer's checklist



Value (Not Price)


Price is in your mind when you shop for electronic products and it is usually the first and most important consideration. However, to focus solely on pricing might prevent you from discovering the real value in the Blu-ray player you are considering for a purchase. Price is what you will give up for a product or service, and value refers to the perceived benefits received from that product or service. Remember that price is not determined by value, but by the intersection of supply and demand. It is always possible to buy a player with greater value and pay a lower price or to pay a greater price and receive less value.

Review your entire home theater system to determine the features that you will need from a player. Compare all of the features that different players have to offer and the benefits you will receive from them. Determine your current budget; if you do not have enough funds to purchase the player you need, postpone your purchase until you have the necessary amount. Be aware that some of the features found in the fancier players might not be useful to you and will lead to overspending for something you do not need. Selecting the player with the lowest price without comparing it with other models in the same class is not advised. You will pay less for now, but your needs will not be met. Remember that the concept of value is of a personal nature and a player can provide great value to you, but not to another buyer as each consumer will have different needs and expectations.


Blu-ray 3D (Full HD 3D)


Anaglyph 3D, which used the red and cyan color glasses, is now rarely used. The latest true 3D technology used in Blu-ray Discs allows for a level of viewer immersion never before experienced outside your local theater or with home setups. The new 3D trend has spurred new debates among movie fans as well as rehashed some old ones. Which is the optimal way to enjoy a movie, regular 2D or 3D? You will make that decision based on your own personal preferences and experiences, but let's review what 3D Blu-ray players have to offer.

Top player models sold by most manufacturers will be 3D enabled. All 3D Blu-ray players will remain compatible with your 2D Blu-ray, DVD movies and CDs. Some players have built in 2D-to-3D conversion video processing which converts your 2D Blu-ray and DVD movies into 3D for playback on your 3D HDTV, but the results are less than optimal. Since 3D is supported by most of the top tier models, buying a 3D player is often the only way for customers to purchase a player with all of the desired features/requirements. The 3D feature does not need to be used unless you wish it, and the additional premium paid for a 3D player is often negligible. You might not wish to use the 3D feature now or in the foreseeable future, but that should not eliminate a 3D player offering superior overall value from your purchase consideration.

If you do wish to experience Blu-ray movies in 3D, you will need a 3D player, a 3D HDTV (with 3D glasses), and 3D Blu-ray movies. You will also require a High-Speed HDMI Cable rated for 3D (it does not have to be an expensive "brand"). A 3D receiver is not necessary if you use separate outputs from your player to send the video signal to your 3D HDTV and the audio to your receiver. There are many 3D players available at affordable prices and among them you should be able to find the model that is right for you.


Reliability and Speed


You want your Blu-ray player to be able to quickly load and play any BD movie in a fast, efficient manner. There's nothing more frustrating than having a player unable to play a disc when you are in the mood for watching that particular movie. Fortunately, nowadays most players will not have problems with Blu-ray Disc playback. In the event that playability of a certain title becomes an issue, check the current firmware of your player as it may be in need of an update. If the firmware in your player is updated, and you are still unable to watch the movie, then it would be a good suggestion to try the disc in another player or to contact the player's manufacturer and ask if any issues have been reported by other users concerning that particular title. Always test your new Blu-ray player with a number of BD and DVD discs to assure that it is functioning normally.

Players are faster than ever before and your Blu-ray movies should load very quickly. Inexpensive players or players from lesser known manufacturers are generally slower to load and play Blu-ray Discs, but this can be expected. Also, higher priced players will generally respond quicker to remote or manual playback commands. Some players have a convenient quick start/quick load, or similarly named featured, which can reduce the time necessary for the player to power up and get you started watching your movies faster. Be aware that enabling the Quick Load or Quick Start features in your player will lead to greater power consumption. Finally, doing some online research about the player you are planning to purchase can reveal possible reliability or speed issues before the purchase is made.


A/V Connections


All Blu-ray players have at least one HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output which is used to transfer uncompressed digital audio/video data in one cable. Top tier Blu-ray players will sometimes have two HDMI outputs. For consumers with a home theater receiver that is not 3D compatible, purchasing a player with 2 HDMI outputs will allow the user to watch Blu-ray 3D programming without having to upgrade their receiver. One of the HDMI ports from the player can be used to connect to your HDTV and the other output will run to your receiver. An optical connection for audio will also allow you to enjoy Blu-ray 3D without a 3D compliant receiver. Both your current 3D Blu-ray player and your receiver must have the necessary optical output/input (the audio can be multichannel, but not lossless as it cannot be transmitted via optical).

Some players will have an analog 7.1 channel audio outputs which sends analog audio signals to a receiver. 7.1 analog audio outputs are often a feature desired by audiophiles, but not something that will not impact the purchase decision of the average buyer (players with this feature are usually more expensive). Most current Blu-ray players will not have component (Y/Pb/Pr) outputs as they have been phased out from players for the last couple of years due to piracy issues and the emergence of HDMI as the preferred connection for sending/receiving HD signals. It is very important for you to review your current home theater system to determine the necessary A/V connections from your new Blu-ray player.


Audio Support


In the early days of the Blu-ray format most players could not internally decode HD multichannel audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD MA. Some players could decode either Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio, but not both. Buyers without a receiver capable of decoding of the compressed audio would often seek that feature when considering which player to purchase. Today, most of the players on the market (even the inexpensive models) are capable of decoding all the Blu-ray lossless audio formats and sending them as a LPCM signal to your receiver or HDTV. If you have a high end home theater receiver, you might prefer for the Blu-ray player to bitstream and have the receiver work the decoding. Bitstreaming (sending the compressed HD audio signal to the receiver as a raw digital stream) is also supported by most of the current players.

Format support for SACDs (Super Audio CD) and DVD-Audio discs are essential features for lovers of high resolution music. SACD and DVD-Audio compatibility are usually not included with inexpensive players, but as a premium feature on medium or higher priced models.


Format/Media Compatibility


All current Blu-ray players will play standard Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs. Playability of burned CDs, DVD-/+/R/RW and support for MP3 files, JPEG, DivX, WMA, AVI (and other formats) will vary among different players. Typically medium tier to higher end Blu-ray players are compatible with SACD and DVD-Audio discs, but are more costly.

Remember that Blu-ray discs are region coded and Blu-ray players sold in their home market are designed to play Blu-ray Discs authorized by the content provider for that specific geographical region. For example, the USA and Canada are in designated "Region A" and the players sold in those markets will play Region A or Region Free Blu-ray Discs only. Doing a little research on the player you are considering for a purchase will assure that it meets your playback requirements for different media/format.


Internet Connectivity


Blu-ray players can be connected to the Internet via an Ethernet/LAN port or by using Wi-Fi. It is important to be aware of the difference between Wi-Fi ready and Wi-Fi built it (current player owners will know the difference, but it might not be as obvious for new users). With wireless built-in, the player comes equipped with all the devices required for it to access a wireless network. A wireless ready player is capable of connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi, but requires an adapter (Wi-Fi dongle) which is not included. It is best to select a player with Wi-Fi built in unless you only plan to connect your player to the Internet exclusively by using the Ethernet (LAN) port.

Why do you need to have your BD player connected to the Internet? First, Blu-ray players sometimes require a firmware update to improve the playability of certain discs. The fastest, most efficient way to perform the update is by using an Internet connection. Another factor to consider is that new player models offer streaming services of online content, social media applications, and BD Live features which also require Internet access.


Most new BD players have the ability to stream online content directly to your HDTV. The players come with a package of online streaming content already built-in. Offerings will vary by manufacturer as each one negotiates with the various content providers. Online audio and video services are provided from a variety of sources like Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, Hulu, Pandora, Picasa, Amazon, CinemaNow and many others. Often, new streaming services will become available for a particular model and those will be offered via a firmware update.

Social media interaction has worked its way into current players as you can now share your viewing experiences via Skype, Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. You should be aware that the speed of your Internet connection will greatly affect the picture quality results from your player when you stream online content. There are many choices, but the most important factor to remember would be to select a model offering the online streaming services and applications you desire.


4k Upconversion


Do you wish to buy a "future proof" player? If you answered yes, then you might consider investing in a top tier Blu-ray player capable of scaling and outputting video content at 4K. New 4K displays are being introduced to the market, but their initial selling price is around $25K. If you have large amounts of disposable income to purchase a 4K display, then a player which supports the feature is an option. For most home video enthusiasts, it is best to wait a year or two for the price of devices capable of displaying 4k resolution to decline to a reasonable level.


Brand


In the early history of Blu-ray players, Sony and Panasonic quickly established their brands at the first choice for consumers looking to purchase a Blu-ray player. Other consumer electronics manufacturers were either: inactive in the Blu-ray market, producing HD-DVD or Blu-ray/HD-DVD players, or simply not producing Blu-ray players with the same reliability as those offered by Sony and Panasonic. As the Blu-ray market evolved, more manufacturers got involved and the overall quality and reliability of the players increased across the board.

However, the player's brand or manufacturer remains an important factor and we will briefly examine why. First, purchasing home theater components from the same manufacturer allows you to synchronize those components with greater ease. Certain manufacturers will include a desired feature in most of their Blu-ray players while other brands might lack that support. For example, OPPO is known for its advanced video/sound processing technology while LG has earned a good reputation for the ability of its players to stream internet content.

Navigation menus and the related interactivity will vary among manufacturers. The same is true about remote controls; you might find it annoying to use an LG remote when you are used to one made by Panasonic or vice versa. There are strengths and weaknesses among all of the brands and it is up to you to decide which manufacturer best serves your needs.


Gaming


If you enjoy gaming, the PlayStation 3 combines high definition gaming, playback of Blu-ray movies, streaming of online content, music, online services, and Blu-ray 3D support. The PS3 is no longer the top Blu-ray player on the market, but it remains a great value for those interest in HD gaming and Blu-ray movies.


Design


Similarly to their DVD counterparts, Blu-ray players evolved from bulky, heavy predecessors to slimmer, lighter models. Samsung delivered a number of fashionable models in past years, but their current players are visually indistinguishable from the ones offered by other manufacturers. The more stylish models for 2012 would be Sony's BDP-S590 and Panasonic's DMP-BDT320. Colors offered are basically limited to matte black, glossy black, dark gray, silver, brushed silver or combinations thereof. OPPO Blu-ray players do offer a unique design that is easily recognizable, but their models are usually a bit bulkier due to their solid construction. Unless you are design conscious buyer, it is recommended that you shift your focus and funds towards other player features/options.




Blu-ray Player Recommendations




Best Multipurpose: Sony BDP-S590


Sony BDP-S590


The Sony BDP-S590 is a quality multipurpose Blu-ray player that should satisfy all, but the most advanced users. The BDP-S590 3D Blu-ray player provides superior value when compared to other players in the market. The current selling price is around $105.

The positives: The Sony BDP-S590 delivers great HD picture and sound with a combination of features and reliability that can only be matched by the more expensive players. The player supports Blu-ray 3D, and can convert 2D images from your DVDs or Blu-rays into 3D images (just don't expect the results to be very convincing or comparable those afforded by 3D Blu-ray Discs). The Sony BDP-S590 arrives with built-in Wi-Fi, Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoders, and streaming media services: Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Flixter (for Ultraviolet) and more. The player can be used as a DLNA server to view and play music/video from your home PC. Super Audio CD and most media/formats are supported. Newer features such as the ability "socialize" what you watch over Facebook and Twitter are included. Sony's BDP-S590 is even capable of allowing you to interact with the player while using your iPhone/iPad or Android phone via Sony's media remote app. All of the great features delivered in a very stylish design.

The negatives: The loading and response times on the player are not the fastest (the comparable Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is faster) and it does not include a SD memory card slot. Although, social media apps are available for this model, support for Skype is not included. Dual HDMI outputs and multichannel analog outputs are lacking, but those options should not be expected at this price range.

The final result: The Sony BDP-S590 is a versatile, stylish, reliable player packed with great features. The player might not best the best choice for the more demanding audiophile/videophile, but it is a great option for everyday use.




Alternative Multipurpose: Panasonic DMP-BDT220


Panasonic DMP-BDT220


Panasonic's DMP-BDT220 is a very fast network 3D Blu-ray player which combines reliable performance and solid construction with advanced multimedia capabilities. The current selling price is around $115.

The positives: The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 has strong video processing capabilities and offers very fast loading of your Blu-ray and DVD discs. The player supports Blu-ray 3D, and 2D to 3D conversion. With internal Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoders the player can either process the compressed lossless formats or bitstream them to your home theater receiver. For the user's convenience, USB and SD Memory Card slots are found in the front of the player. Popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora and many more are included. Plus, social media interaction is covered with applications for Facebook, My Space, Twitter and even Skype. Wi-Fi is built-in and the upscaling of DVD movies is very good. The player is smartphone remote control capable (via app download).

The negatives: The reliability of streaming Netflix programming is less than optimal and even after several firmware updates issues appears to remain. Support for SACD, DivX, or DVD Audio is not included. Similarly to the Sony BDP-S590, the player does not have twin HDMI outputs or multichannel analog outputs.

The final result: The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 offers a compelling package for an affordable price. However, there are better options for those users who like to use Netflix streaming for a significant portion of their viewing time.




Best Performance: OPPO BDP-93
OPPO BDP-93


The OPPO BDP-93 is the ultimate Blu-ray player for video processing. High-end enthusiasts are guaranteed to rejoice at the sight of the BDP-93 as the superb video which will be delivered from their Blu-ray or DVD discs is unsurpassed. While, the OPPO BDP-95 does provide more advanced audio options, it sells for twice the BDP-93's selling price of $500.

The positives: OPPO's BDP-93 comes equipped to process just about any media. Blu-ray 2D, 3D, DVD, CD, SACD (playback in stereo or multichannel), DVD-Audio, 3D, HDCD, MP4, DivX, AVCHD, MKV, FLAC, and just about all types of audio/video/picture files on recorded discs are supported by the player. Now to the good stuff, the player makes use of the Marvell Kyoto-G2 video processor to deliverer the best possible picture quality from your Blu-ray and DVD discs. You can select the video outputs resolution, including 480i, 480P, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Source Direct Mode can be used if you wish to have your external video processor handling the signal. The player supports NTSC and PAL content for video and audio or it can convert from one system to the other. Make use of the advanced picture controls to change the viewing image to your desired preferences. You can also connect your external hard drive via the player's eSATA port and gain quick access to your stored media files.

The BDP-93 features dual HDMI 1.4a ports and 7.1 channel analog outputs, which are a must for the advanced home theater enthusiast. If you have an older A/V receiver, the player provides optical and coaxial outputs for digital audio. Dolby True HD and DTS-HD MA can be internally decoded and transmitted via the HDMI port or the 7.1ch analog output terminals (or bit-stream the output if you prefer). There's no need to purchase additional memory for BD Live as 1GB of dedicated internal memory is included for that feature. Connect to the Internet via Ethernet (LAN) or Wi-Fi connections. Streaming services from Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube are provided.

The negatives: Wi-Fi connectivity is available via a wireless adaptor, but it is not built-in. Support for 4K upscaling is not included in the BDP-93 (the upcoming BDP-103/105 models will have the feature). If you enjoy streaming online content, there're a very limited number of options available with this player. In addition, there are no social media applications to be found in the OPPO BDP-93.

The final result: The OPPO BDP-93 delivers a stellar high-end quality product, which is sure to meet the expectations of videophiles everywhere.



Features and Functionality



24p True Cinema: Movies are usually recorded on film with a frame rate of 24 frames per second. The player will output the 1080p/24 format found in Blu-ray Discs with no need for conversion.

2D to 3D Conversion: Enables your Blu-ray or DVD movies to be automatically converted into 3D for playback on your 3D HDTV.

4K Upscailing: Able to scale and output video content to 4K (requires a display which supports 4K resolution).

50Hz Compatible: Player is compatible with 50Hz Blu-ray content and can either output 50Hz content at 50Hz or convert 50Hz to 60Hz.

Analog 7.1: 7.1 channel audio outputs which transmit analog audio signals to a receiver or speakers.

Analog Audio 2ch Output: Ports used to send a two channel analog audio signal.

BD Live (Profile 2.0): BD Live technology allows the user to download and stream bonus content from the Internet. To access BD Live extra features the Blu-ray player requires an Internet connection, built in memory, or external memory via a USB flash drive.

Bitstreaming: Digitally-encoded Dolby Digital or DTS compressed audio are not decoded by the player, but sent as a raw digital stream.

Blu-ray 3D: Reads 3D (full HD) content and sends it to a 3D-capable HDTV. Players with this feature will also play 2D Blu-ray Discs and DVDs, which can be viewed in a standard, HDTV, or 3D-capable HDTV.

Bonus View (Profile 1.1): This feature provides picture-in-picture playability with Blu-ray Discs offering Bonus View content. Users can watch a movie and view bonus content at the same time.

Child Lock: The player's disc tray can be locked to prevent it from being opened by small children.

Component Output (Y/Pb/Pr): Best option for connecting a Blu-ray player to a non-HDTV. Component outputs can be used with an HDTV to display a maximum resolution of 1080i.

Deep Color: A feature which expands the colors displayed from millions to billions (results will vary depending on the source and HDTV used).

Disc/Media Formats: All current Blu-ray players will play standard Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs. Playability of burned CDs, DVD-/+/R/RW and support for MP3 files, JPEG, DivX, WMA (and other formats) will vary among different players. Typically higher end Blu-ray players are compatible with SACD and DVD-Audio discs.

DLNA: The player can access music, videos, and photos from your personal computer (or other DLNA Certified media server) by simply connecting to a home network (using a hardwired Ethernet/LAN connection or via Wi-Fi).

Dual HDMI: Two HDMI outputs. One port can be used to connect to an A/V home theater receiver and the other to an HDTV.

DVD Upconversion: Digitally enhances standard definition video from DVDs to near HD quality.

eSATA Port: Fast user interface used for access and playback of audio, video and photo files from an external hard drive.

Ethernet (LAN) Jack: An opening where Ethernet cables plug into for connecting the player to a home network.

Firmware Update: Blu-ray is an evolving technology and new Blu-ray Discs released with enhanced functionality may become available after the player is manufactured. For users to enjoy the new functionality, they will be occasionally required to update the firmware in their player. Firmware updates can be downloaded from the manufacturer via a broadband connection to the player or to a USB flash drive.

HD Audio Decoding: Built-in surround sound decoders for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution, and DTS-HD Master Audio. The Blu-ray player will decode the HD codecs and output the signal via the HDMI port.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Output: Used to transfer uncompressed digital audio/video data in one cable.

HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control): A single remote capable of controlling multiple home theater components.

Internet Video Content Noise Reduction: Digitally enhances signals from streamed Internet content for improved video playback.

LPCM: Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM), is an uncompressed audio format.

Mobile Device Control: Turns your compatible iPhone, iPad, or Android device into a versatile remote control (requires downloading an app and running the player and control device on the same Wi-Fi network).

Network Blu-ray Player: Able to access digital files stored in your PC and capable of downloading/streaming video, audio and images from the Internet which can be instantly played in your HDTV.

Optical Digital Output: Port used by the Blu-ray player to transmit a non HD audio signal via an optical cable.

Parental Control: A password enabled feature which allows the user to set restrictions on BD-ROM, DVD VIDEO, and Internet video playback.

Picture Control: Gives the user control over many viewing features including: aspect ratio, noise reduction, zoom, brightness, sharpness, color, contrast, and many others.

Quick Load/Start: Decreases the time needed for the player to load and play discs.

Region Code: Blu-ray players sold in their home market are designed to play Blu-ray Discs authorized by the content provider for that specific geographical region.

RS232 Control: Allows for advanced control of your home theater automation system.

SACD (Super Audio CD): A form of digital audio storage which employs a technology called Direct Stream Digital (DSD) to convert music into a high resolution 2.8MHz 1-Bit audio stream that is stored on a disc. SACD offers up to 6 channels and a longer playing time than a standard CD.

DVD-A (DVD-Audio): A DVD that offers stereo and multichannel high resolution audio digital of up to 192kHz/24-bit stored on a disc.

SD Memory Port: The player has a built-in Secure Digital memory card reader.

Skype Capability: Allows for video calling or Skype-to-phone calls with a compatible microphone camera (purchased separately).

Streaming media-services: Services offered by different Internet content providers (Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, YouTube), which can be streamed by a network-enabled Blu-ray player.

S-Video Output: Provides a standard video resolution of 480i. S-Video is preferred over an RCA connection, but its video signal is inferior to those afforded by HDMI or DVI components.

Universal Power Supply: The AC power supply is compatible with all regions.

USB Port: Connects a digital camera or thumb drive to view video or music. The port can also be utilized for external memory needed in many BD Live features.

Wireless Built In: The player comes equipped with all the devices required for it to access a wireless network.

Wireless or USB Keyboard Support: A wired or wireless USB keyboard can be connected via the USB port.

Wireless Ready: The player is capable of connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi, but requires an adapter (Wi-Fi dongle) which is not included.


Source: Blu-ray.com | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (35 comments)



Top contributor
Tech-UK
  Sep 29, 2012
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Fantastic guide!

K i r a
  Sep 29, 2012
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I work at a movie store and get asked a lot about Blu-ray and the benefits. While I can say the basics to not take up both of our times, I will most definitely, as always, refer to Blu-ray.com. Great article, Tony!!
mark_d_drake
  Sep 29, 2012
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Uh.. The Oppo 103's are shipping now...

Top reviewer
steve1971
  Sep 29, 2012
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Excellent article and I am sold on the S590 as my replacement for my S570. Thanks Tony.

audioquest
  Sep 29, 2012
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I think I'd still rather have a first generation player. They were built like tanks. The new models are ultra-cheap.

Mel823
  Sep 29, 2012
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If I needed to upgrade my LG, I would get the Sony S590. Don't need the 3D, but the price is right.

Are there any good blu-ray cleaners out there?

L-Rouge
  Sep 29, 2012
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Particularly interesting article, I think I will home in on an Oppo, my local store has one. Currently own my first Pana BD 30, so speed or lack there of is something I am used to. Great player, never failed me (and never upgraded)

erlinmeyer
  Sep 29, 2012
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iffin I was to get a new one now, Sony S790 with 4K capability and upscaling would get my money.

ridergroov1
  Sep 29, 2012
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After buying 4 players last month, Panasonic bdt500 is AMAZING. Sammy 590 is garbage I can tell you that. Worst of the bunch.

Josh5890
  Sep 29, 2012
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Nice guide. I'm still rocking my PS3 slim and I'm happy with it.

vanscottie
  Sep 29, 2012
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Would love to see an article for people like me who custom build HTPC's and use an internal Blu-Ray drive. Currently using an LG internal Blu-Ray drive, Windows 7, Cyberlink PowerDVD 12, Sound Blaster card, high end video card, ethernet for streaming music, Netflix, Hulu, and content from other networked computers, Ceton InfiniTV Tuner card that hooks to the cable so my HTPC is a DVR, etc. Always looking for new info on upgrading equipment. Specifically I'd like to see reviews on the Bllu drives. The LG looks/works good, but if there are better drives I'd love to know

Top contributor
rickah88
  Sep 29, 2012
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Very neat checklist! I'm sure those thinking about adopting the format will find this very useful. Good job!

BobbyPeru
  Sep 29, 2012
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If possible, buy yourself a region free player. You'll thank yourself later.

startrekkin58
  Sep 29, 2012
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I still love my PS3. Gaming and movies. Works for me.

sean19
  Sep 29, 2012
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I still have my Pioneer BDPLX70A from 2009 and it works well. It may be slow to load but the picture and sound are awesome.

wellcopes
  Sep 29, 2012
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Yeah. A region free player. I should have though this before buying my first BD player.

billzfan
  Sep 29, 2012
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I still love the pS3. Best blu ray player there is.

Deromax
  Sep 30, 2012
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Oppo should produce and release an affordable no frill player. No fancy audio, no 3D, just great picture quality. 500$ is too high a price, it's not 2007 anymore!

Aidenag
  Sep 30, 2012
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For anyone on the fence or looking for the best, just get the Oppo, i got the 93 and it's night and day from my previous player(s). And is a no brainer if you have a reference quality big screen. I never imagined the player would make that much of a difference, but blu's look better(slightly) and it's upconversion of DVD's is hands down the best. Audio is killer as well. Then you got build quality, which can only be described as a metal tank. Last time i had a player of this quality was a my CD player from the late 80's.. As for customer service, Oppo again takes the lead by leaps and bounds. I found a problem about 3 months back trying to play a movie, and within a week they had tested the problem, found the source, and released a beta firmware update basically catered to the specific issue myself(and likely a few other people as well) were having. If it was sammy, sony, etc etc this would of taken months. And the biggest advantage in my mind, im not stuck at loading screens waiting for an underpowered model to play the friggin movie, show, etc.

And yeah, it's $500 bucks, which isn't cheap by any means. but if you can afford a good tv, it's not that much to really add to the overall cost. And the benefits are just too high to outweigh the cost compared to cheaper players.

NeonShark
  Sep 30, 2012
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I got the Sony BDP-S790 Region free player, best player out, simply amazing, I love it.

d5680
  Sep 30, 2012
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Blu-Ray.com have sold me on buying the OPPO for my second BD player. Very informative. I love this web site.....Thanks...

SolidBlu
  Sep 30, 2012
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please make the players open region (live dvd players) so we can enjoy the movies from other countries =)

bhampton
  Sep 30, 2012
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I agree with every part of this guide. I was happy to see the BDP-S590 on the top where it belongs.

Kaiju
  Sep 30, 2012
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Just get a PS3. Especially if you're a gamer.
Byfrak
  Sep 30, 2012
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This is a great guide. I currently have the Oppo BDP-83 but upgrading to the BDP-103 very soon.
smackrabbit
  Sep 30, 2012
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There is no reason to buy 4K upscaling at this point. First, all the 4K displays already have a scaler in them that is likely as good as the one in the Sony, and even Sony admits this. Second, HDMI doesn't have a spec designed for 4K yet, so you can do 4K at 24p, but you can't do 3D, nor can you do 60p for concerts and TV and other non-film material.

That said, the Sony BDP-S790 is a fantastic player for both Blu-ray and for DVD scaling, with fast performance, very little artifacts on scaling, and bit-perfect conversions. I'd highly recommend it as a high-end player for someone that doesn't want to pay for the Oppo but wants fast performance, dual HDMI outputs, and fantastic scaling. But don't buy it because it does 4K, because that feature is going to be outdated by a new HDMI standard before you have a 4K display.

Doc Ostrow
  Oct 01, 2012
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I will never buy a Sony because they are not 50Hz compatible. My two Panasonics are also not 50Hz compatible. All 3 of my LG Blu-ray players are 50Hz compatible. I consider this important because sometimes I buy Blu-rays from the UK as long as they are region free.

The LGs also play the native iTunes audio format M4A, MP4 files, TP files from my Digital Video Recorder, and YouTube FLV videos. All of my players will play AVCHD.
cyberio30
  Oct 01, 2012
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Excellent information! Thank you!

bookcase
  Oct 01, 2012
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I still believe the PS3 is the best player out there. When my fat one died, I switched to a Panasonic standalone. While not bad, it just couldn't compete, so I replaced it with a PS3 slim. The Panasonic is fine for the bedroom, but not the main viewing area.

halimali
  Oct 01, 2012
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I have owned several bluray players and have been changing constantly because they never met my expectations. Until I came across Oppo BDP-83. From there I stuck to it. It is an excellent player. I can imagine how good might be the newer models, I even modded it so I can play all region blurays. So no headache any more for me to look at the region coding of a disc. I can buy anything and this play opens them all. It is super fast, and gives excellent picture quality even for DVDs.
scottp461
  Oct 01, 2012
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Interesting and, as usual, good information from Blu-ray.com. I found only one thing missing in your assessments of "good" players. I am a purist and abhor anything that is not presented in its original aspect ratio! Most people, however, can't stand that their screen isn't filled with image (no matter how distorted the image is to achieve this!) I've found that many Blu-ray players simply can't output a 4:3 DVD, upscaled over HDMI, in the proper aspect ratio! Sony players (last time I checked) simply can't do this. I assume because most people don't want this feature, it isn't included! It would be helpful to those of us that care about "proper" presentation, to mention this ability (or lack there of!) in your assessments of recommended players. FYI, Oppo players do have this feature and it was the main reason I replaced the Sony with Oppo! Also, the Oppo's upscaling is truly outstanding!
smellyegg
  Oct 02, 2012
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I'll stick with the PS3 as Sony will continue to provide firmware updates long after any of these players will be in existence.

goldie1970
  Oct 03, 2012
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After reading this i bought the s590....installed yesterday....streamed net flicks all night with no issues! We have 2 ps3s, one on each of the "main" Tvs.....was still DVD in the bedroom. FINALLY I can watch blu at night, or stream Netflix. Loved it, no glitches, no freezing. Excellent picture, couldn't be happier! Thanks for the review!

Top contributor
goodstuff
  Oct 03, 2012
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Just picked up the Sony BDP-S790 from Magnolia Best Buy. This player is pretty damn kick ass. It even does still frame step/slow play in reverse for BD's, a first for me!

Top HT gallery
jasonaalbert73
  Oct 03, 2012
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I have owned the OPPO BDP93 for about 8 months in my home theater, and it ROCKS!! Built like a tank, the picture and audio is unbelievable. I have owned a few other models, and they dont even come close. Little more exspensive, but if you want quality, fast load times, ect. Do yourself a favor, and gut the BDP-93


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