Group Test: Blu-ray Disc players
Fuel for your HD TV
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.