back to article Ten... Blu-ray disc players

On mainstream Blu-ray players, 3D is fast becoming just another feature, so whether you want it or not, we couldn't really avoid it in this round-up – but don't let that put you off. Here we have models ranging from the impulse buy to high-end kit, and you’ll find dimensional compatibility listed alongside other attractions …

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Coat

OK... but there's an elephant in this room

Why would I not get a Sony PS3? - even if I never use it for games, it's a well-supported well-featured BD player that happens to play games too. And considerably cheaper than a number of the models reviewed here.

My parental unit has a PS3 for exactly this reason - side benefit when I (or the kids) go round there's a PS3 there to play with too.

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Presumably why Sony has been forced to offer a stonking good player at about £30 less than a PS3...

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Boffin

One reason

The only reason not to get a PS3 in the mix is because despite best efforts, it's quite fugly when stacked with a bunch of other equipment under the TV, and has to be "top of the pile"

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FAIL

Indeed.

Why would anyone waste £170 on ANY of the Blu-Ray players on this list in that pricerange, when a PS3 can be gotten for £179 that does everything they do and a whole lot more besides...

By not including on this list, turns it into a pointless "gadget show" list of randomly cherry-picked players.

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Re: Why would I not get a Sony PS3?

Because it is big, ugly, noisy and consumes more power than your average toaster. But I agree, I'd still rather that than most of these on the list. Although I actually got a Sony SB160 second hand for £60 a couple of years ago and it plays blu-rays - which is all I really wanted from a blu-ray player.

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FAIL

except that

it's really none of those things.

Mine is silent, uses less than 60w (measured it), and it's rather sexy. It's also a million times more featured and futureproof than any other £170 gadget...

So the only losers here are the ones that discounted it because they think a dedicated Blu_Ray player would give them something....

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Meh

multiregion

Until it isn't stupidly priced (looking at you oppo) and has multiregion bluray support out of the box it isn't a match on my trusty aldi bluray player. Damn you region coding!!!

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Anonymous Coward

The LG does multi-region

If you have a clue bag and know how 'tis easy to play discs from all regions. Just watched a disc I bought in the US in late August here in Blighty so it definitely works :):)

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MJI
Silver badge

Only 3 worth having for me

Cambridge, Marantz & Oppo.

Otherwise stick with my Pioneer DV575B for everything non BluRay and PS3 for BluRay.

Some of us have the two HD music formats so Sony lack of DVD-Audio = no sale again (Pioneer was the answer).

And other manufacturers - why don't I just use a PS3?

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Meh

In this age.....

..when everything is designed to fail the minute it gets past warranty why would you bother to spend more then £200 on such a mundane device?

Before anyone counters, yes I was one of those folks that would spend £1500 on a CD player. So I know all about the 'superior power supplies", "the enhanced DACs" for picture/sound quality etc. etc. However, that was many years ago when you could count on support for 10+ years on a device. So maybe it was worth paying the extra for that. Nowadays?

Now I see any electronics device, regardless of price as delayed landfill. That and I've grown up a bit.

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Anonymous Coward

Quick bodge to the high end market.

Buy the Sony then nip down to B&Q for some ready mix concrete. Apply a fat layer round the slim and frankly fragile looking chassis,(I mean what are the chances of it surviving a heavy blow from an axe as it is?).

Playback disc after disc and marvel at the improved edge definition and deeper colours.

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FAIL

Still well overpriced

Most of these Blu-ray players seem to be high-end models that only audiophiles would chase it seems, making it not particularly relevant to 95%+ of the people reading this article.

I bought an LG combo drive for my PC in September 2008 for 67 quid that can read and write CDs and DVDs plus read HD-DVDs and Blu-Rays. Where's the equivalent 67 quid standalone Blu-Ray player over 3 years later? Whilst there have been a few special offers (HotUKDeals is your friend) in the interim, most Blu-ray players are still well above 100 quid! Why?

Blu-ray is doomed to fail long term on pricing alone (after over 5 years from launch, sub 100 quid players are still a rarity rather than the norm they should be - plus shouldn't Blu-ray movie discs cost the same as DVD discs by now too?), never mind that movie streaming via a net connection is slowly closing the viability window for Blu-ray too.

Basically, Blu-ray is an epic price fail and unless the prices fall soon, it'll be dodo time for the format.

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Dodo time?

It's well past the window for becoming a dead format:

* It's the only viable format for hd content. Online streaming is shit, you need a 4GB+ h.264 file for a feature length video to get something worthy of the hd stamp imo, and like hell am I downloading 4GB+ if it has copy protection or becomes unplayable after x amount of days.

* There's plenty of players in the wild.

* It's easy enough to copy the discs, which is a major plus.

* Do you see anything else on the horizon within the next 5 years that can better blu-ray? The next optical format may never arrive (at least not in that window), and transferring via a solid state format similar to an SD card or ssd seems unlikely until 50GB+ of data can be crammed into a small space with fast access speeds (90+ mbits/sec), without melting the player/card, produced cheaply, and with all the film/tv producers getting on board with the idea. Again, not in the near future.

There's a double standards issue here, in physical form a new hd format needs to be at least as capable as blu-ray to deliver high quality content (50GB+ capacity with a video format at least as good as h.264). Anything else is a step backwards. Even considering a 4GB feature length h.264 video to be hd, I can't see streaming to cut it for most for the foreseeable future.

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Silver badge

@Dodo time

Actually Blu-ray will probably end up the same way as DVDs. You buy a disk, since it's not available as a legal download and rip it DRM free to your harddisk. After all Blu-rays typically only contain about 25 gigabytes of movie. You can get USB-sticks with more capacity.

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Bronze badge

Testing methodology?

I'd be more convinced about these comparative reviews if there was anything approaching a blind test. As it is, all this talk of superior audio and video quality is just so subjective as to be useless. Of course, the expense of doing properly controlled blind tests is enormous, but as it stands all this impressions stuff has to be taken with a large pinch of salt. For much the same reason, the Hi-Fi mags long ago went into unknowing self-parody propagating myths and pseudo-scientific nonsense.

I'm waiting for the first comparative review of HDMI cables, then the end will surely have come.

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Silver badge
Stop

Not buying into it again.

I bought my movies on VHS.

I bought my movies again on Widescreen VHS.

I bought my movies on DVD.

I bought my movies on remastered DVD Directors cuts.

I'm tired. I'm not buying them anymore.

Its the local lending library or streaming from now on.

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well...

...that was pretty dumb of you, wasn't it? I don't recall Ridley Scott coming round here and holding a gun to my head to make me buy any Director's Cuts, so I'm fairly sure you did it of your own bloody free will.

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MJI
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I am

I rented them on Beta (HiFi) until the place shut down when Beta rentals stopped being made.

I recorded them off TV

I bought some DVDs (I was VERY early adopter - see line 1 - there were no rentals)

I sold some DVDs for quite an amount - got nearly what I paid for the poor transfer of Blade Runner.

I bought some BluRays - including Blade Runner.

I was never silly enough to buy Vhs pre recorded films

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Silver badge

No it wasnt dumb.

I was more than happy to buy them in ever better presentation up to the end point. I enjoyed that.

But now I've reached the point where enough is enough. That and having access to physical format movies isn't important to me anymore. My priorities in life changed.

I realised that much of my DVD collection had only been watched once, maybe twice and it really wasn't worth it with the downward trend in Hollywood output over the past 10 years to keep adding to it. Case in point about 8 years ago we would go to the cinema about 25 times a year. We now go maybe twice a year! That's how crap it's got. I bet we are not the only ones.

I therefore dumped most of my DVD collection into Oxfam. Haven't regretted it. Quite liberating in fact.

In contrast to my CD collection which I'll never part with, as many of the originals are better than the modern LOUD remasters.

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Silver badge

How about important tests

First of all the picture of a Blu-ray Player can either be perfect or defective. The codecs are standardized to the last bit. If it doesn't conform to it it is simply defective.

Then you could probably save a lot of time by just opening them and eliminate the ones which are identical to the others. There is only a limited number of Blu-ray Chip(set)s and only a limited number of companies designing those. For example my cheap "Didldidi" Blu-ray player is identical to a much more expensive one from Phillips.

Then what it actually comes down to is the quality of the few components which actually matter. Open the box, look at the power supply. You will find a lot of electrolytic capacitors. Look at the voltage they are designed for and then the voltage actually present at its pins. There should be a considerable margin. Then look at the temperature range they are designed for. 85 degrees (celsius) is bad, higher values are better. Then look for the datasheet of those capacitors and find out for how many hours they are rated. The more the better obviously.

So please register, we can read marketing brochures ourselves, please if you have those devices at your laboratory, test them. It is your job to give the consumer information which he would otherwise be unable to get.

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Why would I not get a Sony PS3?

Because my Sony dealer was keen to sell me a blu-ray player for almost half the online cost (bundled with a TV) with 5.1 surround sound and without a free grunting teenager playing games whenever I want to watch a blu-ray, that's why.

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Anonymous Coward

Only 5.1 on your player

No wonder it was half the price of the PS3. The PS3 does 7.1 uncompressed.

EPIC FAIL

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Thumb Down

Nope

Nope, just not sold on the devices reviewed. - !8 months after buying a well hammered cheapo £60 F & H Blu-Ray Player, sure, I would like Youtube, but, USB support, multi-region, DVD upscaling and plays every .avi thrown at it goes some way to keeping me happy.

I am reminded of a Radio 4 programme a few years ago,broadcast from a well know hi-fi store chain based in Kent which was about to compare a very expensive DVD player from a well known brand, which I rather like, and have often purchased, to a bargain basement player, when the demonstration was suddenly cancelled, I forget the excuse given, but it says it all really......

Mr P. suddenly got the jitters.

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Re: Only 5.1 on your player

Well, Mr EPIC FAIL, did your PS3 actually come with a set of 7.1 speakers?

Thought not. Though, if I wanted, I can plug in a wireless kit to add the extra 2 speakers to the 5.1 set I did get. As blu-rays tend to have 5.1 sound tracks and 6 speakers are quite enough to fit into a family living room I couldn't see any point in doing the upgrade.

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T J
Angel

I remember Blu-Ray

I remember Blu-Ray. It was some nutty physical media project that jusssst barely got to market before solid state and online killed all physmedia dead deady dead.

Ah, nostalgia!

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Ru
Meh

Up to a point...

A handful of productions I've been wanting to purchase recently are available either as Blu Ray or ITunes download. I've held of purchasing for now, because whilst the former is ultimately a dead-end format and generally inconveniently region locked (and awkward to rip, compared to DVD) I really don't want the hassle of iTunes given that I don't have a Mac.

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I've never watched a blu-ray film

Or HD-DVD or whatever it was called and my tv is capable of showing HD but I've not got a HD source. I'm a geek too and I work in IT but I have no desire or inclination to get involved with this latest tech arms race. I've got better things to do, my BT Vision box pumps the turgid crap that the broadcasters put out on to my telly fine which keeps my wife happy, the dvd player in my HTPC plays dvds fine or I stream the content from my media server.

As for HD, I go and watch my 3rd division football team play each week, I keep getting 3 players mixed up as they look very similar, this is in the flesh and with big numbers on their backs! Don't get me started on "picture quality" maybe I need to start wearing my glasses again, cheaper to watch a dvd with those on than splash out on a blu-ray player.

Plus, blu-ray is an awful name, I'd probably just call it dvd to save having to utter that horrible name.

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Stop

One word: Cinavia

Why no mention of which players are hobbled with Cinavia DRM? We all know PS3 definitely is. A friend has the Oppo which is NOT Cinavia hobbled, I wonder if the Cambridge Audio is similarly free of CInavia? The Sony player almost certainly will be I suspect.

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Mushroom

PS3 is old hat

The PS3 is getting on a bit and is now slower, noisier and its scaler is not as good as the latest standalones.

Personally the only reasons I can see for picking a specific player are if you need:

multi region

Good scaler for playing DVDs

Internal audio decode and analogue audio out

So I ended up with an OPPO-BD93 :)

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MJI
Silver badge

PS3 upscaling VS TV upscaling

Found the TV was definately not worse than the PS3.

DVD via RGB from the Pioneer is as good as DVD from the PS3 via HDMI, but the Pioneer is less clunky as a player.

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Trollface

Why would I not buy a Sony PS3

Because I think Sony are evil:

1. They reserve the "right" to cripple the hardware you've bought (removing the ability to run Linux on the PS3).

2. They installed rootkits on PCs, opening them to hacker abuse (DRM on "music discs" falsely sold as CDs)

3. They don't care about their customers (Standard response to PSP owners whose screens start showing lines is "fix it yourself")

I won't say I'll never buy a Sony product again, because never is a very long time, but it's been five years and counting so far.

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MJI
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Rootkit is BMG not Sony Japan itself

They just owned the company and I remember that Sony Japan were not best pleased with BMG. They do shit music anyway.

Personally I am not happy with their YLOD response - reminds me I still need to leaded reball the 40GB.

Lets say plastic welders are as good as a bought repair!

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Happy

Sony questions

This review was a few days ago so hopefully I'll still get a response.

Seriously considering the Sony unit but as a committed freetard does anyone have any experience of streaming HD mkvs via ethernet from a PC? The Sony site is vague and my questions on AVForums remains unanswered.

I'm concerned about it's network capabilities. At the moment my HD content is stored on a PC and my WD TV Live accesses it via my home network. Is it really as simple as that with the Sony? Some blurb on the Sony site says 'Direct PC file access' so is it just like 'Network Shares' on the WD TV Live? Trawling through the online manual I notice that next to .mkv it says 'The player does not play this file format on a DLNA server'. That makes me think it would be using Windows Media Server/WMP on my PC.

Anyone?

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Oppo BDP-93

The BDP-95 is the audiophile version of the 93, it just has better DACS. The 93 is maybe £400 cheaper too!!

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