back to article Blu-ray Players

With the nights drawing in, and a shiny flat-screen TV set in the living room, what better way to relieve the tedium of the TV schedules than with a high definition movie? With time off over Christmas, and a looming VAT increase, is now the best time to invest? We’ve rounded up a selection of Blu-ray players that all feature BD- …

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Boffin

Not a "straight" BD player but...

have a go ant try the Popcorn Hour C200.

Basically, it's a Home media Player with a "hole" for a PC BD player and a 2.5" hdd.

It has read almost everything I could present it (with the limitation that mkv files only play right with SMB and not with Upnp), has a wealth of connectivity, a RF remote, a nice user community...

Only problem is that they will be losing YouTube at the beginning of December, as Google removed access to their API to all but the major set top box players.

BTW, how come I didn't hear about it from you hacks ?Is that not noteworthy, that the "Do no Evil" company is squeezing the little players out ? here, have a go at it here :

http://digital.limberis.com/2009/11/wheres-youtube-on-popcorn-hour.html

(Disclaimer : you might have wrote about it and could have missed it. Nevertheless ! 8p)

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Stop

Denon...

2 MINUTES? Thats incredible. I'd have assumed it had crashed and powercycled the machine by then.

I have no experience with Bluray - how long did the fastest machine take to load these 2 minute disks?

I'm still gobsmacked. My old hacked XBOX would have powered up, launched XBMC and be pulling stuff my my NAS in much less time than 2 minutes.

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Bronze badge

Quickest

The quickest player to load took 1 minute 4 seconds.

We used X-Men Origins: Wolverine to time load time for each player, and the timing was done from pressing the close button on the tray (or the mechanism grabbing the disc) until the Fox logo appears on screen, which is just before the disc's main menu.

So, add a few seconds of whirling searchlights to get to the main menu itself.

And if it's the first time a player has seen a BD-Live disc, you may have to work through dialogues asking if you want to download extra material, as well.

Conversely, you may see quicker loads on discs without BD-Live.

I was astonished too; even my old Laserdisc player will be quicker.

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Happy

samsung 1600

ok for around £130 you can get a samsung 1600 brilliant pice of kit ..

does discs blu-ray,mkv,divx.. does usb ntfs so what ever size you need ...

why spend more ?

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WTF?

PS3 - Gaming remote only?!

I know the PS3 only comes with the sixaxis but you could have at least mentioned that you can get a remote for some extra ££ which makes it feel like a proper player, additionally it's compatible with newer Sony tvs so you don't even need that control if you have one.

Also since when is only having hdmi a downside for a blu-ray player? Isn't it the defacto standard for HD devices playing content with copy protection?

Games and HD content in one box, brilliant :)

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WTF?

So let me get this straight...

The PS3 has built in storage, blu-ray, fastest disc load times, iPlayer and much much more at a decent price point but because it has a "gaming remote" El Reg is practically dismissing it out of hand? Despite an official Sony Blu-Ray remote for PS3 being available for £14.99 online (a 10 second Google search BTW).

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Re: So let me get this straight...

And of course the PS3 is the only original blueray player that wasn't obsoleted by blueray 2.0 specs. Amazing what having storage, lots of ram, lots of CPU, network connection and upgradeable firmware can do for you.

If I were to get a blueray player it would be the PS3, assuming there isn't some reliable way to play them from a PC running mythtv on linux (I don't think that is the case yet). I can wait. I don't even have an HDTV yet so what do I care.

Anyhow,t he reviewer clearly has no common sense, given the PS2 is clearly a lovely choice for blueray player, fast at it, and the only one that won't go obsolete the next time the spec is updated. And you get a free game console at the same time. Well at least over here in Canada where it costs $299 rather than 250 GBP (someone is nuts over there).

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PS3

With the PS3 you can also plug in a freeview module which upscales SD as well as DVD's, but more importantly for about £17 you can purchase a proper remote control (which also controls the freeview module). I think this should have been pointed out in the review, after all if you're going to spend £300 on a blu-ray player you really won't quibble over £17 for a remote control (and odds are you can buy a bundle that includes the remote anyhow).

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Dead Vulture

XMB

XMB. I like it.

It is a simple and straightforward none-touch interface. Most of my none-gamer mates got used to it immediately.

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FAIL

Poor review, especially of the PS3

Very disappointed with the review. It failed to answer a couple of burning questions:

1. PS3 Noise. The PS3 is chock full of fans which seem to spin down when playing Blu-ray and other video, is it louder than the standalone blu-ray players on test?

2. PS3 Blu-ray remote. Is the blu-ray experience as good as a standalone player when using the blu-ray remote instead of the "gaming remote"? (I'm assuming you meant the dual shock 3 controller)

3. Playback quality. Nowhere in the review was blu-ray/dvd playback quality mentioned. No BD50's tested?

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Anonymous Coward

Why review last year's Philips?

I've been looking at getting a BD player soon, so this was handy. I'm a bit puzzled as to why you reviewed the Philips BDP7300 from last year when this year's BDP 7500 is available now, and quite a few quid cheaper too.

Load times for blu-ray are only now getting better than "appalling" - and anything that uses Java is really slow (but was it not ever thus with Sun's all-singing all-dancing platform?)

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Terminator

None of these match the OPPO BDP-83

It certainly isn't the cheapest, but it has 2g of internal storage, the fastest load times, and internal surround decoding / volume control (goodbye pre-amp!) The video processing is amazing, and it has no match in BD playback nor upsampling. Don't waste your money on cheap junk, buy a real machine.

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An even cheaper solution.

If you have a PC anywhere near your TV, you could just bung a BD-ROM drive in there and be done with it. I bought a Sony BDU-X10S on special offer (<£60 including VAT and postage) which came with PowerDVD 7.3, which still receives updates and hasn't had any problems with BD-Live discs. If you're fussy about motion judder (which I am) you can throw in ReClock (free) to synchronise playback with your monitor's refresh rate, switched to an exact multiple of 24Hz by PowerStrip (£20).

Only a couple of my discs display a loading screen (both Universal), all of the others go straight to menus or the film after the studio logo. One of the beauties of Blu-ray is that they haven't stuck on those awful unskippable anti-piracy ads or trailers - yet. You'll probably be getting to your film quicker than you would on the DVD version thanks to this!

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@rich_a

1. PS3 Noise. The PS3 is chock full of fans which seem to spin down when playing Blu-ray and other video, is it louder than the standalone blu-ray players on test?

The PS3 is very quiet, you shouldn't really hear the fans at all.

2. PS3 Blu-ray remote. Is the blu-ray experience as good as a standalone player when using the blu-ray remote instead of the "gaming remote"? (I'm assuming you meant the dual shock 3 controller)

The PS3 remote control is a nice bit of kit, could do with a few less buttons but it does (as said in my earlier point) also control the freeview, it is a bit on the large side but it does what it says on the tin, controls. Being able to use that instead of the controller is a major plus point too, as the controller can be on charge whilst you use the remote

3. Playback quality. Nowhere in the review was blu-ray/dvd playback quality mentioned. No BD50's tested?

Playback on PS3 is mint, as I stated earlier it also upscales DVD's.

75% for the PS3 is a disgrace, not only does it have the Blu-Ray and gaming capabilities, it also has access to the Playstation Video Store so you can download movies to play on your blu-ray player over the internet. I'm wondering if the reviewer actually used a PS3 with a remote or just read some bits and bobs about it somewhere.

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WTF?

Thanks for including PS3, but...

Thanks for including the PS3 - it's good to see a view of how it stacks up against the latest players.

However I agree with all rich_a's points, and would add one of my own - the PS3 has been on the market since March 2007 (in Europe) yet is still capable of playing the most up-to-date BD discs thanks to an easy updating mechanism - over wireless internet as well as memory key.

I would recommend the PS3 to any non-gamer, because it excels as a media centre, with the BBC iPlayer, PlayTV, DLNA media server streaming, web browser (incl. YouTube), plus all the future features that are bound to come along. It also supports bluetooth keyboards and mice. Wish it had Skype... there's one that Sony really ought to get around to and might one day.

I'd also love to see some comment on picture quality of all the players - you imply it's much of a muchness?

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Silver badge

Disposable Philips

I would not touch anything from Philips (at least in Canada).

I bought a 10" full 480p portable DVD player and it died after 9 months.

Tried to take it in for repair and they refused saying the dealer was no longer an authorized dealer (how is that my fault).

Asked how much it would cost to fix. I was told they don't fix them and they don't have any parts, you get a new one if it's under warranty. Out of warranty? Too bad go buy a new one.

They seemed to think this was a great idea.

They didn't seem to give a sh*t when I said that if I had to buy a new player it would not be a Philips, and I would never buy anything from Philips again. Or that I would tell others not to buy Philips. You might as well buy one of those Chinese brands that you have never heard of before and will likely never see again since it will be cheaper and the support is the same (none).

I bought a Panasonic, the screen is not as nice but it works better, and plays stuff the Philips choked on, and you don't need to use the remote to get to some features (bad enough on a set-top, but a portable? wtf?).

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Denon

Surprised by the Denon, shame on them for the load times, especially at that RRP. In terms of the physical design it wins hands-down in my book though.

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Bronze badge
Flame

Panasonic and the missing asterisk

Give that Panasonic a better test before listing its technical capabilities. I have a Panasonic TC-P50V10 TV that claims MPEG2 and AVCHD playback in its specifications. It's a lie. Panasonic support said it plays files from SDHC cards that were directly created by a Sony or Panasonic video camera. It does not support video files that come from a computer, another brand of camera, or files that are copied to the SDHC card. In other words, it doesn't support MPEG2 or AVCHD.

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Thumb Down

Blu-Ray is a dead format...

Too bad.

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Alert

Some Suggestions

Its unclear to me if some of these players (Philips BDP7300?) will play formats such as Divx from a home burned BR disk. Clearly the Sony won't - no surprise there. I've decided I'm more interested in getting 25G of Divx from a player than HD since so much of the so-called HD I've seen has been nothing but poorly upscaled crap. I've been enjoying having a full season of a show on 2xDVD so much I'm interested in trying 2 full seasons on BR.

A chart on the final page with key features ticked off would make the review a lot more useful. To me way too much time and space is dedicated to USB/SD card and Live issues, my player will never even see the internet.

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Thumb Down

How about a comparison with real gear and dump the junk?

Samsung is no longer a real consideration/contender (especially that farce 4600 model) since they dumped the Silicon Optix Reon video chip (part of the TOL/IS series of video chips) for their own chip (junk) that you hear a fraction of the horn blowing than there was with the Reon and can not get a real performance explanation of either. Their advertising is almost devoid of any informative mention. And what about the LG BD-390. That's the new golden boy BD player with tons of amazing options. The 370 is a toy.

The extent and amount of info was great. But the subject matter was severely lacking. I'll be looking forward to a real review. Until then . . . .

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Bronze badge

Various responses

Play back quality - yes, much of a muchness. Certainly nothing that we could distinguish between the different players.

XMB - clearly some people like it. I think it's a dog's breakfast; while tolerable on the PS3, on the standalone Sony it really is awful, especially with the background menu showing clearly through various dialogues.

PS/3 - in terms of list price, it's perhaps not that much more, but most of the standalone players can be bought for quite a bit less than the Playstation - up to around £100 less in most cases. And so for those who aren't gamers, I feel they present a better all round choice - features, ease of use and value for money.

Philips player - the 7300 was released in June of this year, and is a current model. The 7500 is brand new, and wasn't available in the time-frame for the testing.

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FAIL

FAIL

No one I know is planning to buy one, so why bother trying to hype the crap, its the vista of home entertainment, DVDs are more than good enough and plenty of people still use videos so this is just a fail.

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@Fred 24

Just because you don't want to own something it doesn't make it a fail.

Why are you even reading the review if you think Blu-Ray is a dead format? Or does it insult you to think that other people might have a different opinion to you?

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support for .mkv!

waw, i'm impressed at samsung adding mkv support, i have to say it's a feature I wish for from the PS3 (and no i can't transcode on the fly, not with subtitles and/or second audio track :( )

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FAIL

@Nigel Whitfield.

Hmm, you seem extremely biased aginst the PS3, despite it offering BD playback on-par with the other players on test, despite it upscaling DVD's better than most of the players on test, despite it offering features like iPlayer, video store, media streaming, Freeeview PVR (which none of the other players offer) in addition to it's gaming capabilities.

Like you mentioned, you can get the players less than list price, but you can pickup the PS3 for less than list price too. Sainsbury had the 120GB PS3 Slim for £199. Why one earth would anyone choose a basic, non(or limited) upgradable player for the same, or more, when the PS3 offers so much and does it so well.

As for marking it down on the basis of a £15 remote, that's just plain pathetic...

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Bronze badge

PS3

I'm not extremely biased against the PS3. If you want something on which you can also play games, then it's a perfectly sound choice.

However, if it's a BluRay player that you're in the market for, then I do believe that you would be better off spending less money, and choosing one of the other options - like the LG at under £140 - which offers a lot of the same functionality, and with a better interface than XMB. Spend the other 80-100 quid on things to watch.

Now, not everyone's priorities are the same, I'll readily admit. And if you do want a something that will do iPlayer, or play games too, go buy a PS3 by all means, like we said in the review. But that doesn't mean that it's the best solution for everyone.

Lots of people will, I think, prefer to have that extra cash in their pocket. That doesn't mean they're irrational, or have a dislike of the PS3. It's a great games console; it's just not necessarily the right choice for everyone who wants to watch BluRay films.

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Anonymous Coward

Sony fanboi

Ignore everything Mark One says about the PS3 - he doesn't even own one.

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Is the Sony 360 that bad?

Last year I brought the BD350 on the back of the register round up. It's a fantastic piece of kit - lots of connectivity options, auto updates when connected to the net etc etc. And the picture / sound quality is stunning.

Is the 360 really so bad as this review suggests, or is it just that tech has moved on, but the Sony hasn't?

I did not buy the PS3 at the time as I have heard that it is a great Bluray / games console - but if you want a blu ray player on it's own then the stand alone ones provide a better solution (sound / picture quality etc). Pretty much the same as DVD's and the PS2.

For the nay sayers - have you ever tried Bluray? Or do you just like shooting things down? Yes DVD has good quality (esp. when upscaled on a decent machine), but the difference between that and Blurray is night and day.

I have the 1995 Pride and Prejudice on VHS, DVD and recently go the BluRay version. The Bluray is far less grainy than the DVD, and even though it does not look like full HD sharpness the colour depth is amazing on the Bluray and so you notice subtleties that are just not there on the other versions that immerse you even further into the storey / characters / settings.

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FAIL

Non-view

Bit of a non review really....

No mention of picture quality or audio quality, which IS different..... MKV playback on the LG etc? DTS re-encode.... yet plenty of moaning about no inclusion of a HDMI lead that costs £2, sure it's a niggle but come on!

Reliability a key issue, known issues with disc playback - Terminator Salvation won't play on any Philips player at the moment for instance.

Hence Sony or Panasonic all the way - i'm amazed at the low scores for them, the Sony I agree isn't great, but the Panasonic has stunning quality and reliability and currently comes with 7 free films! It's the one i recommend to all based on long term testing of all. Samsung and LG have some reliability issues but are good budget options.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001W8T2Y4?ie=UTF8&tag=spoavetstu-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B001W8T2Y4 - £155 delivered with 7 free films by redemption is a touch better than the £196 you quote!

And equally as mentioned above, why pay any extra for the Samsung BD-P4600 when the BD-P1600 is identical under the skin and costs nearly half the price!!! Fantastic little trick (as shared with the LG too) where it will re-encode the HD audio (DTS-MA and Dolby True HD) to the maximum bitrate DTS if you only have access to an optical connection... an amazing feature on such cheap units that for folks with older AV equipment or equally those interested in adding blu ray to their existing all in on units.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001V9KQO4?ie=UTF8&tag=spoavetstu-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B001V9KQO4

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Rob
Thumb Up

Editor's Choice, mine too

I'm a fan of the Samsung BD players, more so for the PC Streaming, mine was crap when I first bought it but since the last firmware upgrade it's been working flawlessly with my Netgear NASDuo. I got a home cinema BD Player so streaming music stright to it as well has been a bonus, granted I only have the 2.1 system but I never really played stuff mixed to 5.1 anyway so I don't feel I'm missing much.

We have a samsung TV so the 'anytime' link up means I can put the TV remote in storage and does make life a little simplier. The Samsung tech guys have more improvements to the firmware planned so hopefully the SMB/PnP bug will be sorted out soon.

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Silver badge
Stop

If this is the general state of BD tech.....

.........at the moment then I'll wait another year.

Still seems half-baked after all this time.

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WTF?

Another vote for the PS3

Quite apart from the WiFi, web, iPlayer, excellent DLNA facilities, superior upscaling and audio options, massive built in storage, announced upgrade path to 3D, and range of controller options, my PS3 Slim only cost £199.99 from Sainsburys.

Frankly, the standalone players don't even begin to compete with it.

Oh, and it can play games, rent movies and do a ton of other crap too.

WTF? Is there some kind of anti-PS3 agenda we should know about?

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