Crispness viewing for Christmas?
Group Test 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-Live.
BD-Live is supposed to enhance disc extras by providing live content, so there can be film trailers, Internet lookups and so on. We had two BD-Live titles to hand – X Men Origins: Wolverine and My Bloody Valentine. The former provides the ability to look up IMDb info, letting you pick from photos of the actors in the current chapter, while the latter has movie news and downloadable trailers that need a faster net connection than what we used during testing.
Many players, despite offering BD-Live, don’t actually have storage for the downloads, so you need to connect a USB memory key, or SD card. And frankly, we’re not yet convinced it’s really a must-have. There are better uses for the Ethernet port that BD-Live requires, as some of the players we tested show. Picture quality is pretty much identical between the players, in our view, and for many, it’s ease of use and additional features that are going to be the deciding factors.
If you have a lot of big chunky AV equipment, the Denon DBP-2010 will be right at home. It’s the most expensive of the players on test, and has connections to integrate control with other Denon equipment. There’s also a built-in decoder, providing 7.1 channel analogue audio outputs to feed into your amplifier, along with a standard stereo output.
Curiously, there’s no optical audio out, just coax digital. There’s support for a decent range of formats, including DivX, DivXHD, WMA, AVC HD and Kodak Picture CD, but at this price we’d have liked to see SACD too. And also built-in memory for BD-Live, instead of having to use the front-mounted SD card slot.
Specs may be good, but this was the slowest of all the players in our test, taking over two minutes to load some discs. And the remote is a bit too large, with the ‘colour’ buttons simply labelled, rather than being coloured.
On screen menus leave much to be desired too – a bright colour scheme doesn’t always overcome the omnipresent Denon logo in the background, rendering some text hard to read. It also had an annoying habit of going right back to the top level when you’ve changed an option.
Audiophiles may welcome the analogue outputs, and ‘pure direct’ mode, which shuts down video and front display circuits for the best audio performance. But for most of us, it’s outclassed by many of the cheaper players.
Next page: LG BD370
XMB. I like it.
It is a simple and straightforward none-touch interface. Most of my none-gamer mates got used to it immediately.
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).
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?
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...
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 :)