Blu-Ray Player Comparison
You could call this the affordable blu ray player comparison
Insignia NS-BDDVD Blu-Ray
Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray
Sharp BD-HP20U Blu-Ray
Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-Ray
Sony BDP-S300 Blu-Ray
Phillips BDP7200 Blu-Ray
Insignia: 1.1 profile
Samsung: 1.1, 2.0 profile coming via firmware upgrade
Playstation 3: 2.0 profile via system upgrades
Sharp: 1.0 profile
Panasonic: 1.1 profile
Sony 300: 1.0 profile
Phillips: 1.1 profile
Whats the difference between profiles? Well profile 1.0 was the first version and did not require for PiP features, second set of audio support, or any internet interactivity. Profile 1.1 made it mandatory for PiP features which mainly come into play for commentary but nothing that important & also issued for the disk too have two audio codecs supported. Profile 2.0 is the FINAL profile for Blu Ray and includes everything profile 1.1 was required and issued a mandatory internet connection available too the player for interactivity features. Out of all the players reviewed the Playstation 3 wins this category of being the only 2.0 profile as of now. The Samsung will sport this profile with a firmware upgrade in the future.
Winner: Playstation 3
Insignia: no exact times but does take awhile for menu to load
Samsung: regular delays 15-20 sec. Faster than Sony S300
Playstation 3: Fastest load time
Sharp: One of the faster players but not as quick as the PS3
Panasonic: Slow but faster than Sony S300
Sony 300: One of the slowest readers out there (1min+ load times)
Phillips: Too be honest never seen this unit
We’ve been spoiled with VHS & DVD load times being extremely quick. With the new technology of Blu Ray we’ve come to realize we need some patients when it comes to loading a disk. The clear winner of this category is the Playstation 3. It usually takes around 5-10 seconds for the PS3 to load a blu-ray.
Insignia: does all resolutions & uses Panasonic UniPhier processor
Samsung: does all resolutions & uses Broadcom processor
Playstation 3: does all resolutions & uses Cell processor
Sharp: does all resolutions & uses Sigma processor
Panasonic: does all resolutions & uses Panasonic UniPhier processor
Sony 300: does all resolutions & uses Sigma processor
Phillips: Should do all the regular resolutions & might be using Broadcom processor
All these players support 1080p and 24p. The real problem you can run into here is your TV and it TRULY supports 1080p 24p. Most TVs say they do but in reality large portion of them don’t. If you have a 720p/1080i set don’t worry about it. Chances are the distance you are sitting away from your set you won’t even be able to tell the difference if you were watching on a 1080p set. Resolution of a TV is one of the least important things when shopping for a TV keep this in mind. A Pioneer 720p Plasma looks way better than majority of all 1080p televisions out there.
Insignia: DTS-MA & Dolby TrueHD via Bitstream. Does not look like supports either PCM.
Samsung: No PCM TrueHD, Supports TrueHD Bitstream, No DTS-HD MA PCM, Supports DTS-HD MA via Bitstream
Playstation 3: Only supports TrueHD & DTS-HD MA PCM. Does NOT support Bitstream
Sharp: Only supports TrueHD via PCM and thats all. No DTS-HD MA at all.
Panasonic: Does NOT Suport TrueHD & DTS-HD MA via PCM. DOES support both via Bitstream
Sony 300: Doing some research it came to a surprise too me that the Sony BDP-S300 does NOT support any high definition audio codec (TrueHD or DTS-HD MA) via PCM NOR Bitstream. I’m not entirely sure if their has been a firmware upgrade to allow support of either of them. Updated (9/2/2008): With Firmware 4.20 the 300 now decodes Dolby TrueHD
Phillips: Only supports TrueHD & DTS-HD MA via Bitstream & None through PCM
This is where it gets tricky and really determines which player is for you. First off if you don’t care about audio and plan on using your TV speakers get the cheapest player you can find because this is what really determines the price usually. Next off if you plan on using an optical cable for audio forget about this pretty much. Optical cables ONLY SUPPORT 2-Channels of Uncompressed audio via PCM the receiver will do the rest of the work. You will NOT get 5.1/7.1 channels of uncompressed audio with a Optical Cable. Second let me explain too you the difference between PCM and Bitstream. The easiest way to put this is that PCM means the Player is the one decoding the audio and sends the file to the receiver to play through the speakers. Bitstream is when the player passes the audio from the player to the receiver to decode. This means that Bitstream is where the receiver does all the work of decoding.
Example 1: Playstation 3 is best option if you have an old receiver with HDMI that does NOT decode TrueHD or DTS-HD MA. I have a PS3 and an old Sony STRDG1000 (Paid less than $120 for it LOL) that has HDMI but doesn’t decode TrueHD & DTS-HD MA. What happens when I play a Blu-Ray? Well since the PS3 decodes the audio it sends all the audio info too my receiver and plays fine. I can listen too both TrueHD & DTS-HD MA since the PS3 does all the work.
Example 2: Suppose I were too buy a Panasonic 30 player and kept my same Sony receiver. Huge problem would occur. The Panasonic only supports bitstream out of the two HD Audio codec. This means the player would not decode the audio and when it sends the info the the receiver it would not decode as well since the receiver can’t do it. Granted I’ll get sound but it will be down sampled and be same quality as a regular DVD.
Example 3: Let’s keep the Panasonic player since it supports Bitstream for both HD audio codecs. Now lets switch my Sony receiver too a Onkyo 805 (expensive receiver) which decodes both HD audio codecs. Now what happens with this combination is the Panasonic sends the info to the Onkyo and the Onkyo now decodes the audio with all its glory. This is one of the ultimate audiophiles combination too have. Since you’ve paid a good amount of money for the receiver you’re making use of it.
Example 4: Now for the last example. Lets make the PS3 our blu-ray player and keep the Onkyo 805. If you have understood everything so far from Examples 1-3 hopefully you’ll understand what will happen with this combo. If not go back and try too understand and take a guess before you read on.
What ultimately happens here is the PS3 is doing all the audio work and sending it too the Onkyo 805 receiver all done. What ultimately happens is you’ve paid a LOT of money on that receiver of yours to play your blu-ray audio but could of spend half of that amount on a Onkyo 605 or even more than half of that on the Sony receiver to hear the same thing. You’ve got a fancy receiver that really isn’t really taking advantage of all the components inside since the PS3 did most of the work.
If you have an old receiver with HDMI or can find an old one that supports PCM Audio via HDMI the PS3 is your best bet because you’ll be covered no matter what high definition codec each movie has either TrueHD or DTS-HD MA.
If you have an extremely fancy receiver like an Onkyo 805, Denon 3808, etc… Stick to a player like the Panasonic that supports Bitstream for both TrueHD & DTS-HD MA. You’ll have on great setup with a player that does Bitstream and a Receiver that can decode anything you feed it.
Warning: All these Examples REQUIRE using a HDMI cable.
Samsung: USB input for photos and firmware upgrades, I believe no longer uses HPQ scaler
Playstation 3: Gaming console, constant firmware upgrades, internet browser, USB, can install Linux, & depending on version memory card reader for photos
Panasonic: Has SD Card reader so you can video photos from it
Some of these features can make you lean to a specific player. You’ll be surprised how many people will go with the Panasonic solely on the fact that it has a SD Card reader. If you want to get the most features pick up a PS3 hands down.
Playstation 3: $400 or $500
Sony 300: $400
I’ve picked the most affordable players out on the market. I did not list the Magnavox because it is so similar too the Insignia and honestly if you were thinking about the Magnavox go with the Insignia. The video processor and scaler is much better than the Magnavox.
The best bang for your buck is honestly the Sony Playstation 3. With the latest profile, fast load times, simplest audio support for most receivers, and amount of extra features its hands down the winner. Even doing this review and seeing it all on a screen its quite obvious that the PS3 is the way too go unless your an audiophile. I will say that TONS of people use to just buy a regular blu ray player and NOT the PS3 on the sole fact that they felt a gaming console would be too complicated for them. They just wanted to pop a movie in and watch it like a regular DVD player. If you fall into this boat keep in mind you are spending a decent amount of money either way at least get whats going to give you the most for your dollar. Also if you have a family with kids or even if your an adult and always thought video games weren’t for you, you’ll be surprised how diverse some games are for the Playstation 3 that any person of ANY age could enjoy.
Now for the people out there who are of the mindset of the BEST possible experience! I highly recommend the Panasonic player combined with Denon or Onkyo receiver that can decode DTS-HD MA & Dolby TrueHD. This is going to cost you quite a bit but will be worth every penny. While you’re at the store checking this stuff out don’t be scared too check out some nice Tower speakers. Once you’ve gone this route I recommend checking out some new speakers.
If you find any errors in the information listed above drop a comment and I’ll update it ASAP (if it’s a spelling or grammer error don’t bother, I’m sure it has tons)
If you want any specific brand and model added too this list feel free to ask as well. I have no problem doing some more research and adding too this list. Like I said in the beginning this is a list of the most affordable blu-ray players on the market and wanted to inform everyone to make the best purchase. I’ve gone into too many Best Buys, Circuit Citys, & Sound Advices and hear the worst information given too customers. I wrote this too inform you all out there curious on which blu-ray player is best for them.
Also please please DO NOT BUY HDMI cables that cost over $40 (per Meter ‘~3ft’). Lets just put it in black and white DO NOT BUY MONSTER CABLES. Hit up Monoprice dot com
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