The New Blu-ray Players Have Arrived

After seeing every single Blu-ray player on sale and/or clearance at Best Buy a few weeks back, I’ve been religiously checking in to see when the latest batch (most unveiled at CES) drops. And this weekend, I hit the mother lode at Best Buy’s Reston, VA outpost. Although these eight new units aren’t entirely ready for their close up… None have completed shelf labels and only two (the Sonys) are boxed on the showroom floor. This isn’t the entire updated lineup, but all the models I saw (starting at $180) include a network jack and streaming services. Additionally, all units start at lower prices compared to last year and are mostly more compact – with several boasting improved startup times. Now that the LGBD390 has presumably been discontinued and Vudu has been acquired, I’m no longer sure which player I need…

The Sony Blu-ray Players

The two Sony Blu-ray players are significantly thinner than prior models. At least 1/3rd thinner, maybe 1/2. And surprising slow. Unfortunately, these two lower end models look somewhat pedestrian in a cheaply finished plastic. However, they can be overlooked as the “wireless ready” (buy their USB adapter) units include Slacker, amongst the other Bravia Internet services, and an iPhone remote control app is available. The slightly higher-end unit is also the first Blu-ray player advertising 3D capabilities on the box, expected via a firmware update this summer.

The LG Blu-ray Players

Although not the slimmest, I found the three LG models to be the most elegant looking. But I’m still not quite sold on the need for a built-in hard drive (on their high-end model), as I have no intention of ripping my (old) CDs to a Blu-ray player. However, maybe it opens the door for improved movie download or gaming services. Interestingly, despite the variety of online services offered by LG, only Netflix is mentioned on the unit. I suppose they reserve the right to rotate streaming apps in and out of their catalog.

The Panasonic Blu-ray Players

The Panasonic players are the ugliest of the bunch. What I thought was a reflection and then a shipping sticker is actually a garish paint job (on the higher end unit). However, the Pannys boast boot times of 1/2 a second. If they can achieve that without becoming an energy vampire, I can easily overlook the aesthetics. And why most AV equipment belongs in cabinets.

The Samsung Blu-ray Player

I’m sure there are many more Samsung players on the way, but only one has hit Best Buy’s shelving thus far. And Samsung has seriously redesigned their enclosure. Gone is the shiny black plastic, replaced by a brushed silver metal (or plastic masquerading as metal) chassis. Which looks quite nice. The unit also looks much less deep than it’s predecessors.

Click to enlarge:

9 thoughts on “The New Blu-ray Players Have Arrived”

  1. I used to be an AV purist but I’ve fallen far away from that as far as Blu-ray is concerned. I’ve just never felt that the format is very compelling. I think it’s great that they’re adding the streaming services onto their boxes but since my TiVo already does all of that it doesn’t make the players any more appealing and now that I’ve got a baby on the way I doubt I’ll ever buy one. I’ve seen too many of my friends re-purchasing media that their little ones have destroyed.

  2. Yeah, I hear you. After getting burned on my HD DVD player purchase, I’ve been mostly content to download HD flicks (rentals) from Amazon, Xbox, etc. Wish the Netflix streaming on TiVo matched up to Xbox or Roku, tho…

  3. One’s content with streaming is seemingly proportional to one’s speaker count, at least until the audio encoders the streaming services use get significantly less

  4. I went for the “bargin” Blu Ray player, I just can’t see spending the big bucks on one. I got a great deal @ BB on their WifFi one which I like for streaming. But my issue was once you switch the Netflix membership you better hope wherever you choose to watch a movie has a Blu Ray player. Amazon seemed to have the best deals from what I found and had REALLY good deals on their open box players.

  5. My Best Buy is way behind the curve, they do not have any of these new models.

    Also, like hernderpa, I look to TiVo for things such as NetFlix. For me, blu-ray is about having awesome picture and sound not about lots of different streaming services.

  6. I have the BD390 and am considering adding another LG BDP to my home.
    The LG Box shows VUDU, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, CinemaNow, Picasa, and AccuWeather
    plus built-in WIFI for Bluray awesomeness

  7. I picked up the LG BD570 a few weeks ago. I’m very pleased. My primary criteria (beyond reasonable Blu-ray playback) was good DLNA support. While Sony and Samsung both claim DLNA support, apparently Sony’s won’t show up until a forthcoming firmware update, and Samsung’s lacks Divx support. The LG has played everything I’ve thrown at it, including MKV files, and operates fairly quickly. It also has a nice collection of streaming apps.

    incidentally, I’m a director of the Blu-ray Disc Association, so I’m probably a bit better informed than most as to the format and available players.

  8. Don’t be dissing the panny’s. the box is not an ornament. The boot up time is pretty close to that stated but it’s the load times that are the winner for me.

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