back to article Group Test: Blu-ray Disc players

Happy Christmas, the format war is over. Now that Toshiba has abandoned HD DVD, Sony’s Blu-Ray has emerged as the new standard for high-definition discs, and the millions of folk who've been watching ye olde standard-def TV programmes on their HD TVs can go out and buy themselves a Blu-ray player safe in the knowledge it's not …

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Bronze badge

Why would the image or audio quality vary?

These players transfer video and audio data over HDMI, which is digital.

So how can the picture or sound quality be different between one player and another?

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Stop

So why did the PS3 only get 80%?

Reading the review, everything about it is great. it's very well priced, for it's blu-ray abilities alone, with PQ as good as the others, SQ, again onpar with the others, the BD-J vastly superior in the PS3, due it's beefier processing, it's DVD upscaling is also VERY good, only a sniff short of the quality expected from a Reon based upscaler. If imagine the PS3 in a regular box, for £249/£299 (and £10 for the BD Remote, so you can hide the controller in the cupboard), it would have been rated pretty highly, however add PS3 gaming, HD Media streaming, Internet browser, Linux compatabilty into the mix too, and it should still be up there in the 95%+ region.

The only reason anyone should not choose a PS3 over any of the units listed here IMHO, is if they MUST have a flat box to fit with other AV components.

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Flame

Teh Cnology

Now call me a liar, but please base that accusation on solid ground...

- Blu-Ray is a "industry standard" way to store digitally encoded video.

- All players have to conform this standard to carry Blu-Ray-logo.

- There cannot be anything different at the first stage, when decoding video - every player has to decode exactly the same way, otherwise the output is garbage - or differs greatly from what the editor of disc intended.

- Digital input in digital television is standardized too, so there cannot be anything different between what the players output to television - it has to follow standards (Ok, I know there are different resolutions, and interlaced/not interlaced - but let's assume every player would be set to output exactly same resolution - and that test setup television is actually handling signal digitally from input to output, and not having some analog stage or upscale/filter effect software active inside telly.)

El Reg finds some difference between players. Recommends stand-alone players, because they output better picture. May I ask editor, how did you come in a conclusion that there might be something different on output quality between players :) ? Measured by your eyes after 3 beers or actually using some scientific instrument?

As you know, in digital world, there are no analog conversions, decoded pixels must run "as-it-is" from decoded video to LCD cell on telly.

Conclusion -> Only thing that can make ANY difference would be some sort of scaling or filtering effects that are built-in the player decoding software. But these are hardly standard, output will be different from what the editor of Blu-Ray Disc intended, even if it might please the eye.

Only other reason would be that the player is not following standards and outputs crap - then auditor who gave the right to use the Blu-Ray logo failed.

A way to actually measure the output image quality would be to construct decoder device that 100% conforms to standard, and record digital pixel output from every player, compare recorded output bit-by-bit, and if there is any difference between signals it is non-standard and should be burned with fire.

My opinion is that the Playstation software could be updated at any time to include same crappy filters that "enhance" picture as any other player. So I hereby declare Playstation as the winner :)

...let the flames burn this witch. Apologies for length, girth, etc.

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Unhappy

IT'S JUST TOO MUCH

I think people are too used to £29 players and <£4-5 DVDs from the market or play.com etc...

With the world sliding into economic turmoil which is tipped to last the lifetime of a video format such as this, I can't see the format making much of an impact except amongst the AV-philes.

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Anonymous Coward

Profile 2

A better review than that from Lewis Caliburn and his unbelievable £1000 DVD player/surround sound kit that produced pictures as good as Blu Ray (http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/11/19/review_home_cinema_yamaha_dvx_1000/).

I have a Dolby Digital EX 6.1 surround sound system - it'd be useful to understand if I will get this channel information from the players reviewed...

Only the PS3 has WiFi capability - I'm looking at this from a Profile 2 perspective which means access to live content from the internet. Having an Ethernet port is fine if you have the ability to run a cable to it discretely. I'd be OK with the Sony stand-alone player (small, neat) aside from the fact I think I'll need to but a WiFi hub as well to plug it into?

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Missed the point slightly?

It really doesn't matter whether these players can decode the 7.1 channel sound formats. Any multichannel amplifier worth the name that can accept 7.1 channel sound over HDMI will have its own decoders which are likely to be better than those built into the BD Players. So what matters is whether or not the players can transmit the formats in LPCM for the amplifier to decode. And that's where the Yamaha (potentially) scores. Rip out the decoders from the player and you can spend money on improving other parts of the system - in theory.

And, for the record, the PS3 cannot do either. It can only decode the compressed 5.1 core of an uncompressed 7.1 channel soundtrack and can only transmit that in miltichannel mode.

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Stu
Boffin

Iron-Man Blu-Ray

Interesting that you showed the Iron-Man disk at the start of the article.

I own a PS3 and a 1080p TV, and whilst browsing casually in Tescos prior to picking up some dinner, I saw both the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the movie. Guess which one I bought.

I bought the DVD version, because the film still comes across as being too expensive on Blu-Ray, and whilst I could possibly have found it cheaper on Blu-Ray elsewhere, I see absolutely no reason why the studios have to charge more for your Blu-Ray equivalent - they dont cost more to make, package or distribute, what with economies of scale, it seems the Blu-Ray owners at the moment are subsidising some of the costs of DVD production.

Perhaps if the studios equalise the DVD and Blu-Ray prices, then it might help me justify to myself the high cost of the BR player component of the PS3!

Suffice to say, your average consumer will take a look at your typical throw away casual buy movie like Iron-Man and decide on the cheaper version, that is if they decide to permanently own a 'hard-copy' of the movie at all.

.

Also, I'm going to raise this classic argument again - Why plump for a dedicated BR player if you can buy a device that does a whole lot more, the PS3. Even if you're not into the games at all, the PS3 is also an all-formats multimedia powerhouse, an internet browser, and a friends video-messaging system. I am also dubious about the lower image quality thing with the PS3 - Its going to be very difficult for your average consumer to tell any difference without properly calibrating your entire home entertainment system for your living room!

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Happy

£170 for the Sony 350

If you try the RicherSounds website you'll get the Sony blue ray player for £30 cheaper than the cheapest on that link you provided.

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Go

Forgot Panasonic DMP-BD35 ?

The only feature Panasonic DMP-BD35 player is missing, compared to DMP-BD55, is analog 7.1 output (but DMP-BD35 still delivers 7.1 in digital audio and HDMI socket), but the price is also £150 lower! This is a killer - as short internet search can confirm.

You should have also published some info on which players can be bought with ICOS HD chip mod (multiregion Blu Ray upgrade). Not everyone wants his player locked, given that some great movies are published in Blu Ray only in one region (e.g. try to find "The Lives Of Others" not locked to region A).

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Flame

Picture Quality

Blimey, you think all decoders work exactly the same way? The quality of decoders varys enormously.

Some chips will cut certain corners, others chips will apply additional post processing to positively enhance the picture. HDMI ensures the output from the player is carried to the TV without degredation, it doesn't make all the players produce the same output in the first place. Software decoders (such as on the PC and the PS3) don't have the luxary of dedicated hardware and thus very often have to cut corners.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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At Evil Graham and AC.

All players have their own processing chips to decode the data. Granted they follow rules to adhere to BluRay standards but they do other things too.

One of the image processing tasks is to upscale DVD format to Hi def image. Depending on the algorithms used there will be slight differences in image quality.

These image processors also calculate hue, contrast, levels of darkness etc... Depending on how they are set by default or how they can be modified can reduce image quality and clarity. I agree with the review and think it is difficult to rate these devices on image quality alone so I am happy they included other factors.

My two cents (renminbi)

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Bronze badge

DRM? Regions? Scaling?

I would like to know what the DRM situation is. I once bought a DVD player that would not display a picture from a CSS DVD on my DVI screen. It worked fine on cheap non CSS disks and a pirate disk I borrowed to test. It went back under warranty and I bought a different one that works. (I don't want to be forced to get pirate disks). Will the same happen with some or all bluray players?

I would also like to know if region locking still exists.

Assuming they actually work with DVI screens (I use a Dell 1600 x 1200 monitor with s-video for my home entertainment system, it also has DVI.) Is the scaling flexible enough to specify the correct target screen resolution? Otherwise there will be no benefit.

(I can't see myself buying a new player and a new screen)

Do the disks have a standard DTS (as used on LaserDisc and DVD) track?

And I don't know how anyone can call dolby digital 5.1 adequate. It's worse than a 64K mp3

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Image quality *does* vary

Image quality does vary, and it's very easy to tell the difference if you know where to look. Decoding DVD and Blu-ray video codecs is not as simple as 'just decompressing it' and some of the rarer decoding scenarios are harder to fix. It took *years* for certain bugs that weren't present in high end DVD players to be fixed in the 30 quid player from Tesco.

CD redbook audio, for instance, is dramatically simpler than any video codec out there. That doesn't stop CD players worth hundreds (thousands) of pounds being sold when a CD player can be bought for less than 20 quid. Why? Again, it's not just ones and zeroes - there are issues with timing and suchlike.

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Is Not Required

Anyone who has bothered will have a seperate audio decoder, being fed by the HDMI cable. In-built decoders in the players are largely redundant and have been since they were put in DVD players.

Wrt the reviews, whilst in theory they all output a standard digital picture, you should still have calibrated the player/screen for each set-up, if this wasn't done, all you've done is prove which player that you reviewed was closest to reference. Pointless.

Most people will either have an all singing multi-speaker system or will have the sound coming out the speakers on the TV. Either way, the in-built decoder is pointless.

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Economies of scale

@Iron Man Blu Ray

Given that shops will currently sell far more DVD copies of a film than the Blu-ray equivalent, the "economies of scale" argument doesn't really fit at this stage.

Fast forward a couple of years or so, when sales of the 2 formats are equivalent, and the prices will probably balance as well. Roll forwards a couple more years and DVD will be more expensive.

How much do video tapes cost now compared to DVD, and indeed how many shops still even sell them?

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@ everyone wondering how there is a difference

The reason there is a difference in image and sound quality would most likley come from quality of components

while there is no analogue conversion to worry about, there is still laser quality, capacitor quality, transport accuracy, and of course the logic that controls the whole thing.

for an instance in how bad wiring can be done, just take the lid off (very carefully) an old PS2, and see the tinfoilyness in all its immediately tearing glory.! :)

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Stop

Re: Iron-Man Blu-Ray

'I bought the DVD version, because the film still comes across as being too expensive on Blu-Ray, and whilst I could possibly have found it cheaper on Blu-Ray elsewhere, I see absolutely no reason why the studios have to charge more for your Blu-Ray equivalent'

Why does everybody expect new technology to come out the same price as old on release ?

Simple economics deny that...For a start the market for Blu-ray is a lot smaller so economies of scale for disc production don't kick so they actually ARE dearer to produce. Secondly who pay's for all the new technology investment, start up costs etc..? We do in the end with higher prices in the first few years. Then there is the lack of genuine competition. At the moment all the Hardware manafacturers are 1st tier (Samasung, Sony etc..). so the presumtion is if you can aford 250uk + for a player then ditto the discs/films are dearer. Perhaps you don't like the ecomomic development cycle however that is the way its always been (Tapes, CD's, DVD's etc. you name it)

Once you can pick up players at Walmart/Tesco for 50 ukp etc. then obviously prices of films will have to match the download trend

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PS3

I've been thinking about upgrading to Blu-Ray for a while now so we can actually benefit from having a HD TV (we've only got a 720p model though). To be honest looking at the prices and the fact that around half the standalone players don't support Profile 2, I'd rather spend the cash on a PS3.

Sure a PS3 is more than the cheapo Sony player but if I'm spending £300 on a player I want some sort of future proofing (at least a couple of years!).

I did the same with DVD, I bought a PS2 first and then a standalone player when the prices came down a tad.

Rob

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price & quality of Blu-Ray

- To anonymous coward: even a single code specification such as H264 the quality of the image can vary greatly depending upon decoder parameters. For example if you decode an H264 video with Smplayer on you computer you can disable the loop filter step to play on older hardware but with a significant quality loss, enable the loop filter to get "normal quality (at the cost of more processing power) or add some extra filters such as denoise3d to get even better quality (at the cost of even more CPU power). To a certain extent this is also true of DVD / mpeg 2

- To Stu: actually Blu-ray disks cost a lot more to manufacture than DVD and HD-DVD Last year some production house claimed that duplication cost were about 5 times higher for BD (because the disk are much more different from DVD, so new equipment needs to be bought). One of the reason many people backed HD-DVD was that since duplication costs were much lower it could have entered the mainstream much quicker. BD will stay a premium / luxury product for the near future, or at least until the duplicators have recouped the cost of buying brand new duplication equipment from Sony (which may take year).

Personally I am still not confident enough in the technology to invest: there have been too many issues with compatibility and DRM for me to spend my cash. Also I would suspect the price of disks to stay higher than expected because Sony would want to recoup the investment done in pushing BD the PS3 trough duplication equipment sales. If they implement MMC in a way that allows me to easilymove the content on many other devices (such as my netbook and my iPod) I may bite for the convenience factor (which for me is as important as the image quality), but my prediction is that this will not arrive soon and will probably be botched.

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What about region locking?

I have a large collection of DVDs in various regional formats. No way am I even going to consider buying a BR player unless it can play them all, and even then I probably wouldn't buy one if the BR disks were region locked.

As for onboard decoders, they can be very useful. I have a competent 5.1 surround system but it doesn't accept HDMI input and I have no intention of upgrading it in the immediate future. A player which will allow me to extract 5.1 sound in digital or analog form would be essential.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark Stanbrook

Are you trying to suggest that PS3 can't do 7.1 sound in any form? As that's total bollocks. It can't bitstream 7.1, sure, but it can decode internally all current formats, and send uncompressed 7.1 audio across HDMI 1.3, which is just as good, if not better. Of course having a purely software based solution means that next year, when 9.1 audio arrives, or Dolby DTS-Master Audio ++, the PS3 will be sending that uncompressed too, and all hardware players will be obsolete.

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Blu-Ray = Expensive

@Stu The cost of Blu-Ray per disk manufactured is much higher than DVD, because you cant use the same techniology not make both disks.

In order to make Blu-Ray you need to invest and build a Blu-Ray facility costsing rather a lot a DVD planet cant be changed inorder to make Blu-Ray disks.

That is why the price is so much higher.

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@Stu

"I see absolutely no reason why the studios have to charge more for your Blu-Ray equivalent - they dont cost more to make, package or distribute"

The reason is that they stuffed the format with "intellectual property" which nobody wants and which is designed to "protect" them against you (AACS). Now they want YOU to pay for that "protection". The cost of patents and licences is what makes BD so expensive.

And disregarding the costs - there is the issue of control. The AACS allows them to remotely disable your player and/or BD discs you legitimately bought by revoking their keys and distributing the revocation certificates either on other BD discs or with the firmware updates.

In addition, the players must abide by system renewability messages, which again may disable your equipment or, for example, reverse modifications you might have made - such as "unlocking" the regional coding.

I am really surprised that the majority of Joe Blows over there are happy to bend over and be had by the industry, but I know I should not be as the same suckers demonstrated that they are happy to be had like that by buying locked iPhones. Good luck (and a jar of Vaseline(R)) to them.

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Bronze badge

Forgot Panasonic DMP-BD35 ?

I wonder why .... could it be because it's price competitor to Sony S350 , but with better audio and video quality and much faster loading ?

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Anonymous Coward

re: Missed the point slightly?

I think you've got that back to front haven't you?

LPCM is already decoded - if you want an amplifier to decode the soundtrack you have to send it as bitstream.

For the record the PS3 can bitstream a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack over optical but a 7.1 True HD soundtrack has to be decoded internally first and then sent as lossless LPCM to an amplifier over HDMI, but it can do it!

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Profiles

Frankly I'd say that if you went for a player that couldn't do Profile 2.0 now, you'll be kicking yourself a year or two from now.

Especially when LOTR comes out on BR with profile 2.0 live interactive features that allows you to personally chat with Peter Jackson and ask him what he had for breakfast the day he was shooting the scene you are watching right now ;)

It doesn't even have to be about whether you personally want to bother with profile 2 features though. You'll find it harder to sell the player if you upgrade without profile 2.

It's funny though the attitude of "ah well, don't need it anyway" (which I always felt was just a way of rubbishing HD DVD when it had the upper hand). No one would stand for a single DVD feature being unplayable today because of the limits of the player.

You're paying a fortune for this stuff. Demand the full spec. Buying Profile 1.1 and 1.0 players to me are like buying the battered old manager's special in Currys that comes without a box, manual, cables, remote and is scuffed up and battered (but yet flogged at only a £10 discount).

But thankfully there are some reasonable priced profile 2 spec players now (that aren't games consoles). Shame they're Sony. And region coded.

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@ Len Goddard - region free?

I have the Sony 350 (picked up on a Lasky's misprice for £130 recently - smug). Anyway, this can be made region free (for DVD) with a simple remote control code. Sadly, it's not the BD players remote you need, but one of those all-in-one remotes.

Nice player though.

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Lee
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Rejoicing in Switzerland

I just got the Sony S350 for ........ 171 Swiss francs after an 80 franc mail-in rebate and 10% discount in the store. Even at the 279 francs list price, it was a steal.

I already now have 4 movies plus play.com just got my business on several.

Rejoice - that I no longer "have" to download movies ;)

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Unhappy

Re: So why did the PS3 only get 80%?

Although they didn't mention it, the Sony doesn't have a remote control port (IR)

So most people that are purchasing a BluRay player probably already have a universal remote, and it will NOT work with the PS3.

Unfortunately this is a deal killer for me. And I really wanted something I could play Motorstorm Pacific Rift on too.

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Bronze badge

@Andrew Bush

There are two "levels" of unlocking Blu Ray device. Cheap software "hack" will give you ability to play DVDs from all 6 regions in a player, but it will remain locked to one of three Blu Ray region. Expensive chip "modding" (e.g. ICOS HD chip soldered in the device) will give you ability to play locked Blu Ray disks from all three regions (this is normally bundled with software hack to allow playing all DVD regions as well). For example compare prices and product description at http://www.mrmdvd.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=976 and http://www.mrmdvd.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=982

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Stop

dead in the water - save your money

I read that in the US all this DVD technology is being ditched in favour of Broadband HD content. Seems that HD style DVDs will end up the same way as the minidisc.

Glad I didn't rush out to get one!

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Anonymous Coward

Blu-ray player with SCART

Don't suppose any of the players reviewed has a SCART socket?

I know the output won't be as good as HDMI, but at least I could have a player with SCART and buy all newly released films in blu-ray format so that I won't have to buy them again when I finally replace my TV.

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Silver badge

One important thing missing

If you place a DRM free video file onto a disk, will the boxes be able to play it? That would be the _most_ important question I'd ask myself before buying such a device.

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Boffin

All the answers

AFAIK (disclaimer only, I do know everything)...

1) Audio quality is not likely to vary one jot, if using HDMI output.

2) Video quality COULD vary, firstly because of potential colourspace conversion (MP2,VC-1,AVC(h.264) are all encoded in YCrCb, not RGB) and HDMI can transmit either YCrCb or RGB. But mostly that as DVD players did, and as you might see in the VLC media player, video can be 'enhanced' and there's no reason why BD players wont do the same.

(BUT IVE NOT SEEN ANY VARIATION IN THE PLAYERS I WORK WITH - S300, PS3, Samsung something)

3) Good point, PS3 only has a bluetooth remote. Which has its advantages anyway! So no universal remotes.

4) And, although they may not have a SCART socket, most if not ALL players have a standard 'video'/'composite' cable.

So we all know about picture quality - if you have a 1080p tv, and HDMI you'll get your picture at the quality the TV allows. (apart from that option in all players for one of the two colourspace conversions (normal or deep, or whatever its called - basically is YCrCb converted to 16-235 or 0-255)

Audio is another story. Players can support each audio codec on two levels - decode, or stream. If a player decodes it, it can output it through its analogue output and push the compatible PCM down the HDMI. If its stream, it can output the encoded bitstream out the HDMI for whatever is at the other end to decode it. The third option is means they're not supported, so you'll get either no sound or at best nothing better than DVD audio.

I went for a PS3 myself. Totally future-proof (I think!). The drawback of the PS3 is that at the moment the audio is RUBBISH because I dont have an HDMI surround amplifier. I'm suffering crappy 640kbs Dolby. Cant wait to raise another grand for a nice Pioneer doo-dah-71...

um, was that all the questions... ?

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Anonymous Coward

@Mad Hacker @Tezfair

You don't need to spend mega-bucks on a HDMI amp. There is a decent range of Sony HDMI amps, as well as Onkyo for less than £300. Both very good buys.

@Tezfair, clearly you havn't seen how bad "HD" downloads are. Compared to DVD they look a little better, but take ages to download. Compared to proper HD, Blu-ray, they look shit. Still consumers like crap products, i mean iPods sell...

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hmmmmmmmm

@ "So how can the picture or sound quality be different between one player and another?"

- its the quality of the components mate.. like denon dvd players always have a much better picture quality over something like a bush.

@"- Digital input in digital television is standardized too, so there cannot be anything different between what the players output to television - it has to follow standards (Ok, I know there are different resolutions, and interlaced/not interlaced - but let's assume every player would be set to output exactly same resolution - and that test setup television is actually handling signal digitally from input to output, and not having some analog stage or upscale/filter effect software active inside telly.)"

- wow, you lot really are showing up ignorance in this field arent ya? HDMI 1.3 will make a MASSIVE difference (many times more colours available), various differences in components can make massive differences. 24fps dropdown allows the movie to play at proper 24fps rather than speeing up etc.. also motion compensation. i will agree its not as simple as buying an expensive RGB scart like the old days lol... i still get amusing that some people are paying 100£ for a hdmi cable... its a digital signal ffs.

ps3 (i have one) is great but a little noisy (even the new models) - compared to a separate BR player, as its not needing a big fan to kep it cool, also with the lack of a LCD display makes it worse for watching films imho... although i see no need to buy another BR player... the ps3 will do me fine :)

@"I have a Dolby Digital EX 6.1 surround sound system - it'd be useful to understand if I will get this channel information from the players reviewed..." - should do... i have a 7.1 yamaha amp and have even watched a few 6.1 dvds (blade 2 if i recall and others). this mainly depends on your AMP tho... if its good it will. i can make 5.1 into 7.1 (mirrors to my back 2 speakers) or 7.1 stereo which is amazing for music

@ iRON MAN - thats an amazing BR disk - my fave so far, and transformers was amazing! looking forward to the 2 new batman films coming through soon too :)

@"And I don't know how anyone can call dolby digital 5.1 adequate. It's worse than a 64K mp3" - hmmm... wow, i guess you are using an amazingly shit system there! if you cant tell the dirrerence (and as someone who admits to using s-video ffs) i guess you cant see/hear differences...

@"I've been thinking about upgrading to Blu-Ray for a while now so we can actually benefit from having a HD TV (we've only got a 720p model though)." - hmm 720 HD tvs looks crap in comparison im afraid mate... should have splashed out for a 1080p imho.

also - cant you get 7.1 from optical? i keep hearing HDMI being banded about but 7.1 audio was around well before BR and HDMI. i cant be arsed to lay out another £500 for an amp just to move over to HDMI switching (from optical here)

@"So most people that are purchasing a BluRay player probably already have a universal remote, and it will NOT work with the PS3.

Unfortunately this is a deal killer for me. And I really wanted something I could play Motorstorm Pacific Rift on too." - wtf? the ps3 stuff is all BLUETOOTH. this means i can take my remote round the house and even use it in the bathroom/outside... BT is the way to go with remotes imho!

@"I know the output won't be as good as HDMI, but at least I could have a player with SCART and buy all newly released films in blu-ray format so that I won't have to buy them again when I finally replace my TV." whats the point of HD player if you have no HD medium to play it on? the ps3 is also a bit pants with SD output... much better with HD - and a lot smoother. plus the ps3 couldnt do RGB movie output to SCART.. why not ? stupid!

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Stop

Or get an LG Combo drive for 70 quid...

I bought an LG combo Sata drive for my PC from Ebuyer earlier this year for less than 70 quid - reads/writes CDs and DVDs and will read both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. It even came with Cyberlink PowerDVD 7 that can play HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies on the PC. How come a relatively cheap PC add-on like this wasn't reviewed? Heck, you could probably buy an entire PC *and* the LG drive for the cost of one of the pricier Blu-Ray decks you reviewed!

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Hmm, many misconceptions...

Firstly there are some great features not mentioned in the article.

The Samsung BD-P1500 has a fantastic (and unique to the P1500 and P2500) that if you connect the device via optical to a legacy amp that doesn't have HDMI it will re-encode ALL of the higher end HD Audio into maximum bitrate DTS audio (1.5MBps) this is a massive upgrade over standard DD or DTS and great if you want a "cheaper" system but still excellent sound.

Similarly the Panasonic BD35 and BD55 will re-encode all HD Audio to LPCM and bounce that over to the amp - handy if your amp can't decode DTS HD MA etc...

The Sony and Panasonic models can be converted to multi region for SD DVD using a "One For All" remote... and with a hardware mod can do multi region for Blu Ray too.

As for many people querying the quality of the internal decoders, using Profile 1.1/2.0 and the PiP functionality you actually need the player to do the decoding otherwise you'll only get a single channel of audio - namely the film. This isn't an issue for me at all, but may be for many people.

Buying a computer device is great if you want that as part of your home cinema system, but there are only a couple of sound cards that have HDMI audio on them and actually work properly... not ideal if you really appreciate the high end stuff.

For those querying an amp, a cheaper player (such as the excellent Sony S350 - very cheap at Amazon at £163 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001DN1SP4/202-3314281-8268652?ie=UTF8&tag=spoavetstu-21&linkCode=xm2&camp=1634&creativeASIN=B001DN1SP4 and worth noting that the Blockbuster deal doesn't start until December 1) the Sony DG-R820 is £261 delivered and whoops the Onkyo - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001EWE98C?ie=UTF8&tag=spoavetstu-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B001EWE98C

Cracking system there for very little outlay (relatively speaking!)

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Paris Hilton

@Tezfair and a few other luddites

"I read that in the US all this DVD technology is being ditched in favour of Broadband HD content. Seems that HD style DVDs will end up the same way as the minidisc. Glad I didn't rush out to get one!"

Dewd....get real, we're gonna be waiting a very very long time before the UK's broadband infrastructure can cope with HD downloads that the whole country can realistically use. It's pie in the sky that one. I agree with AC, these so-called HD downloads aren't much better than DVD quality, if at all.

To the rest of you luddites moaning about DRM and this and that (and you haven't even got any HD kit evidently!), sorry guys you have no clue. I got my PS3 hooked up to my Onkyo TX605, a 40" Samsung 1080p with 5.1 sounds delivered by my B&W 620 series, a matching HTM-62 centre unit and a Rel Quake. It's utterly awesome. Hell I don't even go to the cinema any more because this is way better, I can sit in the comfort of my own house with some mates get pished and enjoy some hi-def action all for the cost of a £3.75 rental HD-BR.

Paris....because she probably enjoys some 5.1 action as well.

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PS3 not getting highest marks

There is one flaw with the PS3 playing films.

Because of the sheer power, size and activity of the machine it generates quite a few watts on heat, all of which need to be removed. Now, when I was working at EA the PS3s were all actually rather loud, now while this doesn't really affect gaming, I can imagine hearing that whine of the fan while watching, for instance a quiet crime thriller, maybe off putting. However, the development PS3 kits we had would also "spin down" when they weren't actually being used much, which I hope is a feature of the retail boxes (as I'll be ordering one very soon).

With standalone BD-players I see the need for a wifi connection as more important than with the PS3... afterall the people who are happy to have cables running the building (or already have cables running the building) are more likely to want a games console.

With myself retiring from high-end PC gaming (what with the rebranding of games as HD, as if my 1600x1200 PC wasn't high enough definition) and the (what I think) disaster of Vista, the PS3 is one hell of a bargain.

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@Ady Durn

I assume you havn't checked out the latest 80GB PS3. 90w power consumption (nominal), 110W (under load). That's pretty darn low. The latest units are what I would call silent (from normal viewing distances).

Consider the 360 draws twice that...

It's also worth pointing out that CNN gave the PS3 a A Rating for it's Blu-ray abilities, beating every standalone on test. (not like the audiophile snob test that they did here).

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/ptech/11/19/review.PS3/

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