Top 5 Blu-Ray Players

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So you shelled out your hard earned cash for an HDTV now all you need is a Blu-ray player to enjoy your HD experience, right? Well unfortunately not all Blu-ray players are created equally and it deserves a little research considering the investment you just made in your TV. When I first started my obsession with Home Cinema things were Somewhat simpler, (Granted I have a 60in  1080I  LCD TV that cost me 5k back in the day, with a HD player and libary to boot in my basement..) Back then you searched what had the best picture quality and that was that. Now with the integration of all the Smart Devices there is a bit more to factor into your purchase, they are no longer just a “player” but serve as a “hub” for your home entertainment.  So i decided to find the Top 5 Blu-Ray Players   You should adjust your expectations depending on what you want to spend on a Blu-ray player Budget models (less than $150) will feature online streaming services like Netflix or Hulu Plus, and often have built-in Wi-Fi and sometimes 3D support. Midrange Blu-ray players ($150 to $200) almost always support Wi-Fi and 3D, and let you access a wide variety of online services out of the box. High-end Blu-ray players ($200 or more) almost always include all of those things, and throw in additional features like built-in storage or advanced video connections, along with better speed performance and video processing. Since midrange and even some budget Blu-ray players tend to come with plenty of features, you don’t need to get a high-end player unless you want to play video games (Sony’s PlayStation 3) or require a cinephile-worthy movie experience with a high-end home theater system (Oppo BDP-93). Otherwise, there’s no reason to spend more than $200.

 

1.   OPPO BDP-103 Universal 3D Blu-ray Disc Player SACD & DVD-Audio$499

Well since I am a cinephile, This blu-ray player tops my list since it packs quite a punch. It costs double than most Blu Ray Players but for that money you get you get the most features, some of the best performance and video processing, and a nearly bulletproof build quality. It’s a Blu-ray player that, if you can afford it and you value a high-end home theater experience, is worth the big bucks.  Streaming is unbelievable, picture unparraled and the Audio will take place of any receiver or audio device you own.

Serious Media Support

The BDP-103 is ready to play most any disc media. Enjoy the latest and greatest with the Blu-ray Disc and Blu-ray 3D formats; watch you your favorite 2D movies in 3D with 2D to 3D conversion (3D television and glasses required to view 3D content). On the Blu-ray front, the BDP-103 also supports BD-Live (Profile 2.0), with Ethernet/wireless networking and a gigabyte of internal storage; and BonusVIEW, which enables picture-in-picture features while the movie plays. DVD audio and video are supported, and it’ll play Super Audio CD (SACD) in stereo or multi-channel. Users can select whether to output the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) signal in its native format or convert it into PCM. Add the USB connectivity and the list gets longer, with support for DVD, audio CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MP4, DivX, MKV, FLAC, WAV and other audio/video/picture files on recorded discs.

Streaming Content

Instantly watch movies and shows streamed to your TV via the Internet connected BDP-103 with Netflix Instant Streaming (now with 1080p and 5.1ch audio support) and VUDU HD Movie Streaming (membership required) and listen to your favorite music with Pandora Internet Radio.

Crystal-Clear Video and Upconversion

The BDP-103 incorporates Marvell’s Kyoto-G2H video processor with the latest generation Qdeo technology, delivering a truly immersive viewing experience by rendering video free of noise and artifacts. This goes for all types of content–Blu-ray, up-converted DVDs, streamed content, etc. Enhancement options include video noise reduction, compression artifact reduction, intelligent color, contrast, detail and edge enhancements. Per-pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing and advanced scaling transform the standard definition image on DVDs to high-definition output to your TV, with help from the Qdeo processing for a clearer, smoother, and true-to-life picture free of noise and artifacts. Enhance the home theater experience with four times the resolution of Full HD 1080p by up-scaling all video sources to 4K (3840 x 2160) output resolution.

Oppo BDP-103 rear

Connections to suit most any modern system–dual HDMI 1.4, multi-channel audio, coaxial/optical digital audio, and more.
Oppo BDP-103 remote

The BDP-103 comes with a fully back-lit remote control for ease of use in dark home theaters. With its ergonomic button layout and clear labeling, operating the Blu-ray Disc player is easier than ever.
1080p/24Hz High-Resolution Video

The BDP-103 features user selectable video output resolutions, including 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and up to 1080p and 4k. The BDP-103 can also faithfully display 24 fps Blu-ray discs for smoother motion and a flicker-free, film-like home theater experience.

Source Direct Mode

For users who wish to use an external video processor, high-end audio/video receiver or display, the BDP-103 offers a “Source Direct” mode for sending out content with no additional processing or alteration.

Dual HDMI v1.4a Outputs

Two assignable HDMI v1.4a outputs are provided, giving you the option of full audio and video output to two displays; or dedicating one to audio and one to video. The BDP-103 supports 3D and Deep Color modes on both HDMI output ports.

Dual HDMI Inputs

Connect external devices such as set-top boxes and network streaming devices to take further advantage of the excellent audio and video processing functions by the BDP-103. The BDP-103 offers two HDMI inputs, one on the front and one on the back.

MHL Input

Simplify connecting smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to the home theater by using the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) input port of the BDP-103. Display high resolution pictures, 1080p video and listen to pure digital music all while simultaneously charging the connected mobile device. The front HDMI input port of the BDP-103 doubles as the MHL input.

High Fidelity Audio

The BDP-103 supports bit-stream output of lossless Dolby TrueHD audio via its HDMI 1.4a output, and can internally decode Dolby TrueHD into LPCM and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals (Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus audio formats are also supported). The BDP-103 also supports bit-stream output of DTS-HD Master Audio, for decoding and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. (DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and DTS Digital Surround are also supported.)

Gracenote MusicID and VideoID

By connecting to Gracenote’s global media database over the Internet, the BDP-103 can offer an enriched playback experience by displaying Cover Art, Title, Artist, Genre and other media information for CD, DVD, Blu-ray and a wide range of digital media files.

7.1-Channel Analog Output

Individual analog 7.1-channel surround outputs are ideal to connect to a 7.1-channel or 5.1-channel surround sound system. The BDP-103 delivers an incredible sound stage and an immersive surround experience. For users with stereo speakers, the 7.1-channel analog output can be configured to a stereo down-mix mode. For simple and easy connection to more traditional A/V receivers, the BDP-103 features both optical and coaxial outputs for digital audio.

Connectivity

The BDP-103 is equipped with two HDMI output ports for versatile installation options. No need to upgrade your A/V receiver to a 3D model–one HDMI output of the BDP-103 can be connected to a 3D TV and the other can be connected to a pre-3D HDMI v1.1-v1.3 A/V receiver. For projector users, you can connect one output to a projector for home theater use and the other to a TV for casual viewing. For a multi-room installation the BDP-103 can output audio and video to two 3D or 2D TVs simultaneously. Digital Media Player (DMP) and Digital Media Renderer (DMR) features enable wired or wireless access of audio, picture, and video files stored on DLNA-compatible digital media servers such as a computer or network storage device (NAS). The BDP-103 also comes with an experimental feature that can access video, audio and picture files shared by computers on the local network via the Server Message Block (SMB) or Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocols. Three USB ports provide you with options for external storage, so you can enjoy high-speed delivery of your digital files. Using the included wireless-N adapter or the built-in RJ45 Ethernet port, users will also be able to interact with BD-Live content, watch instant streaming programs from provides such as Netflix, etc., playback content on their home network, and update firmware to keep up with new Blu-ray releases.

 

2.  LG BP620 3D Blu-Ray Player with Built-In Wi-Fi - Black

Design

The front of this blu-ray player is 1.6 by 16.9 by 7.8-inch (HWD), 4-pound BP620 is flat and black, distinguished only by a large 3D logo in the middle of it. The left half of the front flips down to reveal the disc tray, while the right half has an LED display hidden behind the glossy black finish. On the top edge of the right side of the player sit four buttons for pause/playback, power, eject, and stop. The right edge also houses a USB port behind a small, rubber door. The back of the player holds an HDMI output, optical audio and composite video outputs, and an Ethernet port.The simple, well-designed remote measures 8.2 inches long and features large, flat rubber buttons. LG based the design around easy-to-find direction buttons, but there are also number, playback, and even TV-activating volume, channel, power, input, and mute buttons.   The BP620 offers a wide selection of streaming media services and both free and pay apps, accessible through the player’s built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. The Premium services are the most useful, and include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and several other streamed offerings. The LG apps are much less worthwhile, and include a middling selection of downloadable games and e-books. The vast majority of the time you spend online with the BP620 will involve the Premium services, and not the apps, which aren’t particularly useful beyond as a novelty. Strangely, you can assign the LG apps to a quick launch bar in the main menu, but not the services. It’s a strange and slightly irritating quirk we’ve seen in previous LG Blu-ray players.

Performance

At $150, the LG BP620 is an excellent Blu-ray player with features and performance that rival a player costing over $200. Its built-in Wi-Fi, 3D support, and wide selection of online services make it a great addition to any HDTV, It is easy to set up and performance wise can keep up with anything except the  OPPO BDP-103 Universal 3D Blu-ray Disc Player SACD & DVD-Audio

 

3. Panasonic DMPBDT230 Wi-Fi Blu-Ray Player127.99

This blu-ray player can access multiple online services through Panasonic’s Viera Connect system. The Internet button loads a tiled menu showing all the installed services on the player, and offers access to other apps and services through the Viera Connect store. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and Vudu are available out of the box, along with MLB, NHL, MLS, and NBA sports services. It also comes with Skype, if you want to plug in your own Webcam for video chat (it’s compatible with certain Panasonic, Logitech, and Freetalk Webcams). The Viera Connect menu interface is a little clunky and doesn’t offer an accessible list of all the services you have installed—instead, you have to browse through eight-icon panes. But you can organize them so your most often used services are in the front.

Setup-

Setting the DMP-BDT230 up was pretty simple. In the box was a manual, remote, batteries, power cord, and the BD player itself. The player also has a good amount of inputs/outputs, and was very happy with the fact that it had SD-card and USB inputs. The player does come with ads enabled as a default (Just like my ST60), but these were easily “hidden” though the menu. The BDT230 does NOT come with built in storage (for BD Live, etc), so I was glad that I had a spare 2GB SD card lying around for me to use. Setting up netflix/vudu/hulu were simple. Just logged in my information and the apps were good to go. To download additional “apps”, you must do so in the Vierra store, which unfortunately makes you sign up for a Panasonic account (if you do not already have one), even for free apps. I was not able to set up Miracast, even though I have an android device that supports the Miracast functionality. The player currently only supports the stock Android Nexus 4 phone. I find this a bit misleading, as this is listed as a major feature of this model. I personally don’t care too much, as I’d probably never use the function… but others should know that their device (unless it is a stock “Google Nexus” device) will probably not be supported.

Performance-

This Blu-ray player has a “quick boot” option that really makes it power up very fast. Switching between menus is also fairly fast, as well as playing/loading up an actual blu-ray movie. Blu-ray picture quality is superb on the BDT230. There are a lot of picture “enhancing” options, although I kept most of these off (I prefer a more pure “stock” image). Netflix and other apps are pretty quick to load, and performance is great. Built in WiFi seemed to work excellent, though I personally chose to hook up via ethernet (I always do this to get the best connection on a “streaming” device). 3D performance was also spot on, and there are a few options to dial in your preferred 3D depth/image settings. As mentioned in the header of this review, you will definitely want to update the firmware (as soon as you can) to the newest firmware. It fixes some major “bugs” people (including myself) had been having with the original “shipped” firmware. My main problem with performance is, I really wish the menu system was laid out differently. To get to Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, you have to go into the “Network Services” submenu, when I feel they should just be on the home screen. It’s a minor gripe, but somewhat of an inconvenience to have to go through several menus to get to such frequently used apps/services. DLNA performance was also PAINFULLY slow (although it did find/connect to my DLNA server rather quickly). It took over 2 minutes to start playing my test movie. I actually had almost given up on connectivity, when the movie finally came on. 

Value-

So, is the Panasonic DMP-BDT230 worth the current asking price of $127.99? The answer is… kinda. It really depends on what you are looking for in your blu-ray player. If you are looking for a solid, quick loading, simplistic (yet stylish) 3D BD player with excellent picture quality, then I would recommend it to you. If you are looking for a little more from your blu-ray player, the BDT230 is probably not for you. The DLNA performance was very slow, Miracast won’t work with most Android devices, and the apps (although performed well) are hidden behind more menus than they need to be.

 

4.  Toshiba BDX5300 1080p 3D Blu-ray Disc Player97.99

Strong Middle of the road Blu ray player Offers all the features you expect, with suprisingly fast playback The Toshiba BDX5300 is a solid,  but it does nothing to stand out against other, similarly-priced players. Its remote feels cheap and its few connections limit your options in connecting it to your home theater, and it doesn’t offer quite the performance and options of the LG BP620

 

5.  Playstation 3 250GB System - Slim (Redesign)

Size, Connectivity, and Energy Efficiency The previous-gen PS3 is a glossy black behemoth, weighing 9.5 pounds, measuring 3.9 by 10.7 by 12.7 inches (HWD), and taking up more than its fair share of space in the entertainment center. Sony trimmed the new console down to a much more palatable 2.5 by 11.4 by 11.4 inches and 6.7 pounds, so it’s easier to stash in smaller spaces. The new PS3 also includes a 120GB 2.5-inch (notebook-size) hard drive. Like with the previous model, swapping in a new drive takes minutes, thanks to its easy accessibility beneath the slot-loaded Blu-ray drive. As far as connectivity, the new console includes the same ports and options. Both PlayStations include a pair of front-mounted USB ports (for charging the included DualShock 3 controller), and Ethernet, HDMI, optical digital audio output (SPDIF), and a proprietary AV port on the back of the unit. Like the original model, the new PS3 offers an HDMI port with support for 1080p, but Sony leaves out the HDMI cable, with out-of-the-box connectivity limited to composite video and audio out. There’s also integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and in my tests, connecting to wireless networks was a breeze. Like the previous model, the Slim lacks the memory card slots found on the original PS3, though there are other ways to share content with the console. You can stream from other devices on the same network, for example (more on this later). Sony not only shrunk the PS3’s internal components to fit into the slimmer housing, but energy efficiency is also improved.

Using a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure power consumption, the new PS3 used 71 watts during Blu-ray movie playback, while the older model consumed 104 watts, making the newer model 32 percent more efficient. To compare, a 42-inch LG LED HDTV consumed about 140 watts while playing back the same scene. It’s not clear exactly what Sony did to increase efficiency, though both models took roughly 17 seconds to boot, and performance felt identical. The PS3 uses the same XMB (XrossMediaBar) interface it had when the system started, arranging the various media and online functions next to games in organized columns. Through the PlayStation Network, you can access Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, and other streaming media services and social networks, plus buy movies and music directly through the PSN Store. While the Microsoft Xbox 360 also integrates online content streaming, it lacks a Blu-ray player, which is one of the PS3’s best features. The Slim includes the same Blu-ray functionality as previous models. Since it was introduced, we’ve considered the PlayStation 3 to be one of the best Blu-ray players around, thanks to its excellent performance and its ability to easily connect to the Web via Wi-Fi or Ethernet for frequent firmware updates. (See our review of the previous-gen PS3 for more on Blu-ray performance.)

A minor gripe: The PS3 lacks a dedicated Blu-ray remote control. If you’re planning on using the console as your dedicated Blu-ray player, you’ll want a remote; controlling media playback using the DualShock 3 controller is tricky. But you can get one for as little as $20 online. One very cool feature is support for HDMI Consumer Electronic Control (CEC), which lets you control the PS3 using an HDMI CEC-enabled HDTV’s remote. This feature, which Sony calls “Bravia Sync,” is disabled by default, but digging through the System Menu reveals a “Control for HDMI” menu, which includes the option to turn on CEC. In my tests, I was able to control system menu navigation and Blu-ray playback using the remote from a Samsung LCD HDTV. If you have a compliant HDTV, this is a nice feature if you don’t want to shell out for a Blu-ray remote, or you wish to use a universal remote to control the console.

The PS3 also supports Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), for streaming content from a variety of networked media sources directly to the console. This technology works with a variety of devices including digital cameras, such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3, a point-and-shoot camera with built-in Wi-Fi. Microsoft Windows 7 will include native DLNA support, so you’ll be able to stream content directly from any folder on a networked PC. (Windows Vista only supports DLNA in Windows Media Player.) Unfortunately for some advanced users, the Sony removed support for installing a second operating system, such as Linux. Also, like the most recent PS3 console, the Slim is not compatible with PS2 games, though there are plenty of higher-quality PS3 games to choose from. The first version PS3 was a superb gaming device, and the latest iteration is even more attractive given its lower price, and slimmer, more energy-efficient design. Throw in new features, like HDMI CEC and you’ve got a true winner. The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim is the best console for gamers and home entertainment buffs who want a versatile media center with Blu-ray and Netflix-streaming support. Bottom Line is Its a great option If you enjoy gaming as well, but the playstation 4 looms on the horizon

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