It’s a little basic, but if you shop around you can pick up the P1500 for less than £200 at the moment, so it’s worth considering if you’re on a tight budget.
The P1500 is nice and compact, although it’s not quite as sturdily built as its main low-cost rival, the Sony S350. It also makes a noticeable whirring noise when loading up discs, which adds to the impression that this is a bit of a ‘cheap and cheerful’ model.
Image quality is good, though not outstanding, and home cinema buffs might prefer a more expensive model that provides that little extra quality for HD movies. The same is true of the player’s audio support, as the P1500 supports Dolby TrueHD, but not DTS HD or Master Audio. This means that DTS fans will need a receiver or speaker system with its own decoding capabilities if they want to go for the full home-cinema surround sound experience.
The player only ships with support for Blu-ray Profile 1.1, but there’s an Ethernet connector that you can use to download a Profile 2.0 update. So while it’s not going to win any awards, the P1500 is a good option for people that want an affordable introduction to the world of high-definition movies.
Yamaha’s S2900 is a serious piece of kit – built like a tank, and with an equally hefty - £700 - price tag. Its image quality when playing Blu-ray films is excellent - brightly coloured and finely detailed. However, since it comes from Yamaha, you’d also expect it to provide good audio quality too.
We certainly didn’t have any complaints on that score, as the S2900 produces rich and strong audio playback for both conventional stereo and multi-channel surround sound playback. We were a little disappointed, though, to see that the S2900 doesn’t have built-in decoders for Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio – which you might expect from such an expensive player. That’s because Yamaha really wants you to use the S2900 in conjunction with other Yamaha music systems that would provide those features for you. There’s no Ethernet network connector either, so you can’t upgrade the Profile 1.1 support to Profile 2.0. We’re not too worried about Profile 2.0, but the S2900’s price means that it will mainly appeal to Yamaha aficionados, rather than a general, mainstream audience.
Next page: Sony Playstation 3
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).
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.
@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.
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!)
@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...