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Sony BDPS490 Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 6th 2013

Sony BDPS490 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS490

Introduction

Sony released the BDPS490 3D earlier this year, so you can be certain that it is brand Harry Spankers and bang up to date. This was a hotly anticipated product as well and is looking like being one of the most purchased 3D Blu Ray players yet. But is it a brand new thing or has it been done before? We got our reviewer out of bed and sent him out into the great unknown (well, stuck him in front of his PC) in order to find out…

THE SPECS

The Blu Ray players of today are getting smaller and smaller. For me at least, this is a positive trend. I have a crapload of movies in my apartment and I’m rapidly running out of storage space for them all, so the smaller the player, the more space it can ultimately create. This is also positive in environmental terms, as less plastic is needed (and thus less is used) in order to make the outer casing. Measuring 10 x 10 x 10 cm is very welcome indeed and, since we don’t plan on carrying our Blu Ray players around with us very often, we’ll forgive the slightly portly weight of 2.3 kg and say that it’s a neat little package indeed.

Sadly, buying a 3D Blu Ray player won’t automatically act as a one way ticket to cinema-quality images and high octane sound that makes even the most annoying of bathroom cleaner commercials seem cool. Despite what the ad campaigns say, in order to get the most out of your player, you’ll need a 3D HD TV with 1080p screen resolution and a surround sound system. You’d be surprised how many people expect great things from their Blu Ray player alone and wind up disappointed.

You’ll also get access to online content, although it doesn’t seem like its unlimited. Whilst some Blu Ray players can effectively turn your TV into a Smart TV by connecting to the Internet as readily as your computer or Tablet does, the Sony BDPS490 does not appear to be one of these. You will, however, gain access to the Internet via the use of apps like ‘Netflix’ and ‘BBC iPlayer’.

This player will also connect well to cameras and other external devices via either of two USB ports.

THE PRICE

3D is being touted as the next big thing and, although many people (myself included) are sceptics, 3D still commands a high price. It is pleasing, then, that the Sony BDPS490 can be yours for just £112 (with free postage). This is actually very good value for money and, although there are cheaper models out there, a brand new 3D Blu Ray player is still a steal at this price.

THE PERFORMANCE

The 3D looks good and the sound is very nice indeed, this is also a very versatile player, with a host of other options as well as the obvious ‘watch stuff in 3D’ one. The image isn’t quite cinema quality 3D, so don’t expect to be swatting flies away during ‘Avatar’ with quite as much gusto as you were in the theatres, however, this is some of the best 3D home cinema that I’ve seen. It also up-scales DVDs to a very high standard indeed. 

The biggest problem here is the lack of WiFi, which seems to have been cut as a cost-saving measure. As with any ‘budget’ model, there are sacrifices to be made and, as always, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So if you want a better model, you will be paying extra.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

The aggregate score for this product on Amazon is 4/5. Meaning that it is generally a good product, but could be a bit better. “MattLondon’ praised it to the hilt, despite the lack of WiFi, saying that the quality was exceptionally high and also that the set up was easy and user-friendly. User ‘Babs’ noted that the design is aesthetically pleasing and went on to say that the apps ran particularly smoothly.

Interestingly, there is no review for this product lower than 3/5, which is a definite rarity by Amazon standards and holds this product in good stead indeed. ‘Mr. Jon Foster’ did say that it was “sluggish” and then went on to complain (with some justification) about the lack of WiFi.


Our Verdict

This is a great little player. The biggest pros are the more than fair asking price and the ease of use while the single biggest con is the lack of WiFi connectivity. However, you can MacGyver a connection for yourself if you’re good at such things. Overall, I would say that this is worth a purchase, having said that, if you can wait a bit longer, better models will eventually come down in price.

Features:

7/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

9/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £92.63

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Product Reviews, Sony, Upscaling | Comments Off

Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS185B

Introduction

The Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray player is still less than a year old (at the time of writing). Despite this, it has had a pretty successful first year, all things considered. In fact, it has been so successful that Sony have knocked about 40 quid off of the asking price. But is this generous decision a bargain or a sly bribe? As always, our intrepid reviewer gets the answers you need…

THE SPECS

Well now, what have we here? This sleek, sexy player weighs in at a slender 1.8 kg, which makes it as cute as it is practical (Wait…Did I just hit on a Blu Ray player? Wow. That’s a new low for sure). Its other dimensions are just as alluring (I uh, mean, sensible) with a perfect 10 all round (no, I’m not still being silly…The products dimensions really are 10 x 10 x 10 cm) making this product space conscious and just that little bit more environmentally sound. The Sony BDPS185B is 30% smaller than the average Blu Ray player (there’s one for ya – trivia fans!).

Before we go any further, I ought to point out that if you’re looking for a Blu Ray in order to boost the quality of your picture and sound, you will still need a 1080p HD TV and a surround sound speaker system. Without these items, your Blu Ray player won’t look or sound any better than your DVD player and you’ll be wasting your money. Keep that in mind, because you won’t believe how many people buy a Blu Ray Player and then scrawl frustrated, vitriolic diatribes all over otherwise trustworthy review sites, bashing the players as “horrible” and “a waste of money” when this really isn’t the case. Just a thought. Moving on…

The good news also is that this player is Internet enabled, meaning that you’ll have access to the Internet via streamed content and downloadable apps such as the ‘BBC iPlayer’ or ‘Youtube’. From the looks of things, you don’t get complete, unfettered Internet access, which is something of a shame, as I tend to consider full Internet access a high selling point. There is no WiFi option either, which is a further kick in the pants.

THE PRICE

Designed as a ‘budget’ model, the Sony BDPS185B debuted at a very reasonable £109. Since then it has dropped down to around £70, but the Amazon marketplace can provide it cheaper still at just under £50, which is more than fair.

THE PERFORMANCE

This is not the best Blu Ray player ever created in terms of performance, but it was good enough to garner the coveted ‘5 star’ review in October 2011’s edition of ‘What Hi Fi?’ I believe that this is mainly due to the affordable price and smaller dimensions, which combine to form a product that is at once practical, cost effective and aesthetically pleasing.

By connecting you to the Sony Entertainment Network, you’ll get access to the BRAVIA Internet video service, which streams content from a large and diverse number of external sources. You’ll also be able to use a vast array of apps at no extra charge, these apps will offer you extra viewing options, although there are some that can even notify you when a house you like comes on the property market!

The image quality is excellent, as is the sound. It is also compatible with almost any disc you opt to play on it. Though this may seem arbitrary, some Blu Ray players are known to be rather fussy when it comes to formats such as DVD-R. The USB playback is generally pretty good and your Sony BDPS185B will have no problem hooking up to cameras or hard drives and accessing their content for you.

WHAT THE OTHER USERS SAY

Amazon user ‘Null Unit’ (there’s an odd name) praises the Sony BDPS185B as being “fantastic value for money” while ‘Alan’ praises the player as “full of features” yet goes on to lament the lack of WiFi. The user posting as ‘Birksee’ gave this player a scathing review, saying that it would not connect to the Internet no matter what (s)he tried. Net connectivity can be tricky and, judging by the review, this person tried very hard and for a long time with no results. Perhaps the unit in question was defective?


Our Verdict

If you’re on a tight budget, this little player could be the choice for you. However, if you have an extra £20 handy I would recommend getting a better model (especially a WiFi enabled one) that has recently come down in price. Blu Ray is no longer that expensive and, as a result, there are better options than simply ‘budget’ models. Having said that, this is still one Blu Ray player that won’t steer you wrong. 

Features:

7/10

Performance:

7/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

9/10

Was: £79.99
Now: £59.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Product Reviews, Sony, Upscaling | Comments Off

Panasonic DMP BD75EB K Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Panasonic DMP BD75EB K Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Panasonic DMP BD75EB K

Introduction

Anything that has the words ‘ultra fast’ in the title had better be quick. This thing had better run like The Flash with diarrhoea or else we’re not interested. So, does it fly over the finish line or merely stop in its tracks? We hung our reviewer upside down from a nearby pylon until he agreed to find out for us…

THE SPECS

Around the office, we just love a perfect 10. No, we’re not being stereotypical males, we mean a Blu Ray player that measures 10 x 10 x 10 cm. The Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is compact and storage friendly. Smaller products are also that much more environmentally friendly (in terms of creation and disposal) and we’re proud to say that we care about such things. Although the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K weighs 2.3 kg (somewhat heavy by Blu Ray standards) it is still petite enough to look sleek and modern as it fits snugly and economically under your TV.

Now, statistically speaking, some of you reading this are thinking that you can buy a Blu Ray player and that it will not only play these new Blu Ray discs you’ve been hearing so much about, but also upscale your DVD collection to HD quality. Of course, this is entirely true, but what you may not have considered is that this plan won’t work without a decent sound setup and an HD TV with 1080p resolution. Without an up to date TV and speaker set, any quality playback is rendered useless. Please consider this before upgrading to Blu Ray.

The Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is Internet ready (connecting to PC via DNLA). This enables you to enjoy streamed content, apps and view digital media. It also has USB connectivity, so that memory sticks, cameras and external hard drives are all well supported.

THE PRICE

At just over £60, the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is a steal. Given that it costs about the same as ‘Old Kent Road’, yet still features Internet connectivity, up to date playback options and a rapid ‘booting up’ time, this one certainly looks like it offers Good value.

THE PERFORMANCE

Well, I don’t know how to say that this player doesn’t quite live up to its boast, without making Panasonic sound like a bunch of liars. The truth is that this is a fast booting Blu Ray, in fact, much faster than almost anything else in its range. However, that doesn’t make it ‘ultra fast’. If you’re going to use the word ‘ultra’ I want the thing to move so fast it becomes a fire risk, and the DMP-BD75EB-K just doesn’t go that fast.

Despite this minor niggle, the player works very well. The playback is good and the DVD upscaling is exceptional.

There are problems, however. Firstly, any media played from a hard drive or memory stick will only play in a 4:3 aspect ratio and seemingly cannot be changed to any better resolution. Secondly, this machine really likes to freeze up on you. Its not a common occurrence, but even every once in a while is a pain, add to that the clunking noise that you occasionally hear during playback and you have some very disappointing observations.

On the plus side, this thing is easier to use than a hammer, and I mean that.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

Unsurprisingly, the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is a polarizing product. Reviews range from raving about the price and ease of use to griping about the constant freezing and both sides make very valid points.

Amazon user ‘A.E. Healey’ praised the DMP-BD75EB-K as “an excellent purchase”. ‘D.Walsh’ from Lancashire agreed, praising the fast start up time and great picture quality. A user with the very edgy sounding name ‘Filthy Raider’ (who hails from the decidedly un-edgy location of Dorset) praised the strong laser and called the DMP-BD75EB-K “well worth the money”.

Critical reviews frequently cited the player’s propensity to freeze mid play and then require a complete mains deactivation in order to start up again. Among the users who mentioned this were, ‘Old Technophile’ (creepy name) and ‘Fouldsy’. Elsewhere, ‘Davo’ suggested that it was far too loud and a user called ‘jmg’ said that the player simply was not able to connect to his/her Windows home server, which would be a serious problem indeed.


Our Verdict

This is a good player at heart, but it’s blighted by far too many problems to be worthwhile. One or two are an annoyance, but any more than that and you’re looking at a fully-fledged pain in the A. For the price, we can overlook some of these issues, but not all of them. This is a fast booting, ‘budget’ level Blu Ray player with good connectivity options and solid playback. It is, sadly, nothing more than that.

Features:

8/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

7/10

Value:

7/10

Was: £64.99
Now: £59.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in HD, Internet, Multi Region, Panasonic, Product Reviews, Upscaling | Comments Off

Sony BDPS480B Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 28th 2012

Sony BDPS480B Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS480B

Introduction

Gaining the coveted 5 stars when reviewed in the June 2011 issue of ‘What Hi Fi?’ this Blu Ray player has been specifically designed to handle the Internet, 3D and DVD all with the greatest of ease. It can also cut through bone, just like butter, (but only if you’re watching ‘Machete’ on it).  But is it indispensable or merely expendable? We dispatched our reviewer to find out.

THE SPECS

Today’s Blu Ray players are getting smaller and smaller, which is useful for space reasons and better from both a consumer standpoint (there’s less to pay for) and an environmental one. This is only an uncomfortable irony if you happen to be watching ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ on Blu Ray.  Joking aside, the BDPS480B is pretty small, measuring 19.9 x 43 x 3.6 cm and weighing in at an anorexic 1.7 kg. In today’s world, it pays to be space conscious when it comes to home entertainment, as more content is available, at a lower price, than at any other time in history.

Because it is a Blu Ray player first and foremost, your Sony BDPS480B will enable superior picture and sound quality, bringing you closer than ever to home cinema. However, I should point out that this will only achieve full potential if hooked up to a decent surround sound system and a 1080p HD TV.

This model will connect to the Internet, allowing you to surf the net on your TV the same way you would with your computer and it’s WiFi connection interfaces easily and efficiently with your home broadband.

The Sony BDPS480B also comes equipped with two USB ports, which are great for connecting memory sticks or portable hard drives in order to watch downloaded or user-generated content. They can also connect your Blu Ray player to digital cameras in order to watch your home movies, or show friends your holiday snaps.

And yes, you can use your mobile phone as a remote (Apple and Android only).

THE PRICE

Upon its release at the beginning of last year, this player cost £330, which is, frankly, a bit steep. However, right now you can buy it for £90 (not including postage), which is actually a pretty good deal. Amazon’s marketplace also has it available for as low as £70, which is even better.

THE PERFORMANCE

I’m pretty sceptical when it comes to 3D, so I’m not sold by the manufacturer’s boast that it represents “the new generation of home entertainment”. Luckily, you don’t need to watch everything in 3D, so this is still a worthwhile product for all you 3D doubters out there.

You can access any number of apps, which are perfect for streaming Internet content and do so very well. This means that you can catch up on last night’s ‘Mock The Week’ with the iPlayer app, but still enjoy new episodes of ‘Jake & Amir’ via the YouTube app.

The Sony BDPS480B boosts the quality of DVDs to a very high standard indeed, which means that you won’t need to go about replacing your entire film collection with Blu Ray discs (which, lets face it, if you can afford to do that in this recession, you must be golfing with the Prime Minister this weekend).

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

The Amazon reviews for this particular model are really very good. UK-based user ‘Steve’ says that he (I’m assuming he is a ‘he’) bought this to take the stress off of his overworked PS3. He goes on to say that the overall performance is better. Another fellow Brit says that the WiFi is actually only accessible by the purchase of an optional dongle, I have to say that I didn’t notice this during the review and it is not clearly marked on most websites, so I’m grateful to him for pointing it out.

‘Dan 46’ had a different story, however. When (s)he connected to a slightly older (yet still HD) TV, (s)he discovered that the resolution reverts to that of regular DVD, effectively wasting the money that was spent on it. It is worth noting that this is a common complaint among first time Blu Ray buyers and one that is worth your consideration.

Other reviews centre on the lack of connection cables included, which, when you consider also the absent dongle, is actually quite disappointing.

Our Verdict

This is a good player. At under £100 it is reliable and high tech. This is one that certainly won’t steer you wrong. If, however, you aren’t all that thrilled about 3D, you can knock £20 (or even £30) off the asking price by buying a 2D version, which is a viable option that could save you money. Overall, the asking price is fair and the performance is very nice indeed.

Features:

10/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

9/10

Value:

8/10

Was: £129.99
Now: £110.00

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in 3D, Dolby Digital, Internet, Sony, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

LG BD550 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 26th 2012

LG BD550 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the LG BD550

Introduction

The LG BD 550 Blu Ray player is what we like to call a ‘Ronseal’ model. Don’t make us tell you why. As simple as Forrest Gump watching Saturday morning cartoons, this Blu Ray is easy, user-friendly and hassle free – or so the makers claim. But is it cheap and cheerful or is it just cheap? We sent our intrepid reviewer in to find out.

THE SPECS

2.7 kg is rather weighty for a Blu Ray player; most of the newer models seem to be a good kilogram (or more) lighter. However, this model is a little greyer around the temples than most newer models. Released at the tail end of 2010, the LG550 was designed to be a ‘budget’ model and seems to have performed its task well in that time.

Blu Ray’s main selling point is superior visuals and sound quality, something which this model accomplishes pretty well. It even boosts the quality of your existing DVD collection. It is worth noting at this conjuncture that you won’t get much from a Blu Ray player until you hook it up to a 1080p HD TV and a surround sound speaker system. Connecting this, or any other Blu Ray player to an older TV is a waste of money.

This Blu Ray player is neither WiFi enabled nor WiFi compatible, which does impede it somewhat. It does, however, utilize two USB ports, meaning that you can view downloaded content, holiday photos or home movies directly from the devices. Despite the lack of Internet connectivity, the player itself boasts high playback performance and exceptionally clear audio.

THE PRICE

With an original RRP of around £250, this player was always a little easier on your wallet than its competitors. Today, despite being reduced to just over £60 (and as low as £40 on the Amazon marketplace), it is no longer the best value Blu Ray player out there. With other, initially more expensive, models now down to the same price, the LG BD550 Blu-Ray player is competing with models it was never designed to go up against: competing and (in the value for money stakes, at least) losing.

THE PERFORMANCE

The LG BD550 Blu-Ray player is a solid little run around that will play your movies and not much else. It does, however, do its job very well. Painful loading times are a common complaint of Blu Ray users and this little black box loads up quickly and easily and is usually playing the disc by the time you land on the couch (this does, however, greatly depend on where your couch is positioned at the time, so you can forget any silly lawsuits you may have up your sleeve).

Crystal clear sound and excellent picture are, by now, de-rigueur when it comes to Blu Ray and although the performance is excellent, this player has suffered from the influx of newer, better and much more useful models into its price range.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

The reviews for this project (many of them a couple of years old now) are almost unanimously positive, praising the LG BD550 Blu-Ray player as good value for money or a tremendous purchase. Amazon user ‘Geekzilla’ praises it to the hilt, but mentions that the disc insertion/reading speed “isn’t exactly blistering” which is another drawback of buying an older model.

Elsewhere ‘CD Don’ described it as ‘wonderful’ and praised the device for its simplicity and ease to set up. ‘Mike’ says that it plays almost all media file types without any problem at all.

Interestingly, on the negative side, ‘TW’ (who I’ll assume is not, in actuality, Tim Wonnacott without further proof) slams the sound output, describing drop outs and, at times, complete, lasting silences. Another user, ‘Durmson’ states that (s)he “usually swears by LG products” and that the one (s)he purchased (itself a replacement for a faulty model) died after a paltry 8 months of use.

Clearly, the LG BD550 Blu-Ray player is a budget model and clearly, this was very much in its favour upon the initial release, but those nagging problems that you expect from cheaper models can now be avoided for the same cost. I just don’t see any reason to buy this one.

Our Verdict

Sadly, this perfectly serviceable and reliable Blu Ray seems to be heading down the same dark path that claimed Neanderthal Man, The Dodo and The Moa before it. Competition brought on by new appearances in its natural habitat has rendered it looking clumsy, outdated and overpriced. There is nothing wrong with this player except that you can get much better versions at the same price. It hasn’t done anything wrong and is still a generally good buy, but you can get so much more for your £60 that it just isn’t worth it.

Features:

6/10

Performance:

6/10

Design:

6/10

Value:

5/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £79.00

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, LG, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

Sony Playstation 3 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 24th 2012

Sony Playstation 3 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony Playstation 3

Introduction

Over the last few weeks, we’ve sent our intrepid reviewer out into the darkest corners of the office in order to review pretty much every Blu Ray player known to man. This time we thought we’d throw him a curve ball (actually, it was a cricket ball and the poor sod suffered a concussion – sorry mate!) So we got him to have a look at the PS3. Is the PS3 as good a Blu Ray player as it is a games console? Or is that all a steaming pile of Rogue Warrior? We injected our reviewer with deadly flesh eating nanites and gave him 24 hours to review the PS3’s Blu Ray drive in exchange for a cure…

THE SPECS

For a Blu Ray player, the PS3 is big and cumbersome, though the slimline edition is better. However, when you consider that the PS3 is also your games console, it is actually quite a handy space saver. PS3 is a great option to play with your mates when you can’t agree on what to watch (or even a good way to settle the dispute) and instantly doubles your entertainment options.

For my money, the PS3 is the world’s best games console, so spending the extra dosh is merited in at least one sense. However, if you aren’t a gamer (and have no interest in becoming one) then I don’t need to tell you to save yourself well over £100 and look elsewhere. The quality of the Internet on the PS3 isn’t tremendous (remember that the PS3 is, first and foremost, a games console). You also won’t be able to access some of the apps, extras and other stuff that comes bundled with a Blu Ray player, although most of your favourites (Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer) should be present and accounted for.

Also – Remember that just like any other Blu Ray player, the PS3 works best with a 1080p HD TV and surround sound, although you can hook it up to lesser televisions. If you’re entertainment system doesn’t meet these requirements, there is actually very little reason to recommend Blu Ray to you at all. Blu ray will work on lower tech, but there really won’t be much point. If it sounds silly, just bear in mind that a lot of people have made this mistake and wasted large sums of money in the pursuit of higher quality visuals.

THE PRICE

Although the PS3 has dropped in price considerably over the past few years, it is still a lot more expensive than the majority of today’s Blu Ray players (though you do get more for your money). Presently, Amazon is offering a slimline PS3 for £189.00 with free shippingand handling.

THE PERFORMANCE

As a games console, the PS3 is second to none, but as a Blu Ray player it does leave some things to be desired. The quality of the images/sound is superb and you’re subject to almost none of the playback problems that Blu Ray users frequently describe (it loads quickly and noiselessly). However, navigating the menus with a control pad is a supreme pain in the ass and sifting through the PS3’s many pages of options in order to find the disc (labelled, invariably, as BD-ROM) is annoying if you don’t instinctively know where to go.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

A review on the ‘PC World’ site said much the same, despite noting that there is a PS3 Blu Ray remote control on the market to make menu navigation easier. The reviewer specifically mentioned what a pain it was to work out which buttons were used to pause, rewind and so on (there’s nothing in the instruction book).

At the end, however, the review stated, “The PlayStation 3 can complement your home theatre, but it falls short of being a full-blown home theatre device unto itself. That said, in my hands-on tests, the PlayStation 3 proved a reasonably agile Blu-Ray Disc movie player, despite its rough navigational edges”. I couldn’t have said it better myself (which is the main reason I copy/pasted it here).

Our Verdict

If you want a Blu Ray player, but are looking for a cheap alternative on the sly, look elsewhere. Kudos to you for thinking ‘outside the box’ as it were, but it didn’t work out this time.

If, however, you’re going to get a PS3 for the games and also want to use it as a Blu Ray player, then it will probably work out fine. The control setup will take some getting used to, but after a week or so I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. If you’re on a limited budget and you can’t choose between games and movies, then the PS3 is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Features:

9/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

10/10

Value:

6/10

Was: £199.99
Now: £159.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in 3D, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Sony, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

Samsung BD D5100 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 20th 2012

Samsung BD D5100 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Samsung BD D5100

Introduction

Now reduced down to about £60 (with free delivery, no less!) the Samsung BD-D5100 Blu-ray player is a budget model on a mission to hit the big boys where it hurts…Their profit margins. The question is, is it a hit or is it…Um, not so good? We poked our intrepid reviewer with poison-tipped punji sticks until he agreed to go and find out for us…

THE SPECS

Weighing in at a slightly chunky 2.3 kg and measuring a pretty hefty 19 x 43 x 4 cm, this is one of the bigger players I’ve reviewed. It doesn’t effect the outcome of the review that much if the player is a little on the ‘large’ side, but obviously, we’d all prefer a smaller and more ‘storage friendly’ model. Having said that, the Samsung BD-D5100 will fit comfortably into most entertainment centres (that’s an upper-middle-class euphemism for whatever you keep your telly on) so you shouldn’t have a problem.

It is important to remember that owning a Blu Ray player will not immediately improve the resolution of your TV, nor will the sound suddenly transport you to Wembley stadium in time to see ‘Bon Jovi’ (or whatever you kids are listening to these days). The truth is that without an HD TV (at 1080p resolution or more) and without surround sound, you’ll never get the most out of your Blu Ray player. The Internet is littered with the embittered reviews of many a gibbering wreck who splashed out big money for Blu Ray, only to notice no difference in quality at all on his five (or even ten) year old telly. So be careful.

The Samsung BD-D5100 is also Internet compatible (as well as DNLA), which gives you access to all manner of online content, from streamed videos to Internet-only downloads. In addition, it has two USB ports, which will allow you to view content from external devices (including cameras and hard drives).

THE PRICE

At a reasonable £66, this really isn’t bad. However, it was always intended to be a ‘budget’ model (as the original RRP of £107 can attest) and there are better Blu Ray players that have since dropped down to around the same price. It is worth mentioning that the Samsung BD-D5100 can also be picked up from the Amazon marketplace for less than £50.

THE PERFORMANCE

There is an automatic ‘How To’ video installed into this player, which plays upon the initial setup (though it also comes with an instruction booklet). Needless to say that it can be booted up and ready to go in almost no time. The Samsung BD-D5100 is also an excellent ‘up-scaler’ of DVD quality, making the older discs seem fresh, new and vital again.

Sadly, the Samsung BD-D5100 is very noisy indeed. The initial noise of start up (a common annoyance for Blu Ray viewers) is offset by a loud ‘clunking’ noise at random intervals throughout the film. Though this does not affect playback, it is very annoying. The loading time is not the fastest either (in fact, it can be painfully slow) and Samsung have put out far quicker Blu Ray players before now.

This is, simply put, not a particularly good Blu Ray player. It isn’t bad, but, for sure, there are faster, less noisy players in the world.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

A user calling him (or her) self ‘Dr. J.H Beattie’ gave the player a 1 star Amazon review on the grounds that it was not a multi region player.  Whilst it is important to find out if your player is indeed a multi region one (especially if that is what you’re after), this was kind of silly. In fact, it was very silly. (s)he also goes on to say that Samsung have made it difficult to hack and that (s)he won’t purchase any more Samsung products as a result. I’m sure you’ll be missed, Doc!

On another, less mad, note, the user ‘Boommachine’ gave a comprehensive and helpful run down of the Samsung BD-D5100. In her (or his) review, (s)he said: “I timed 1:42 seconds just for the machine to recognise the disc inception. It then played the legal copyright notices, then took a further 1:02 seconds to load the menu, followed by a further 36 seconds after hitting play. 3:20 to start a disc”. This would be annoying in the extreme and I completely understand why ‘BM’ returned the device just a few days later.

Our Verdict

Back in the old days, when Blu Ray still commanded £300 + price tags, the Samsung BD-D5100 would have seemed like a bargain. However, in today’s market, this is a ‘budget’ model that is now being undercut and completely outclassed by the very products it was launched to undercut. It is, purely and simply, not worth the effort.

Features:

7/10

Performance:

9/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

3/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £72.00

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, Samsung, Upscaling | Comments Off

Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 18th 2012

Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB

Introduction

Released in 2011, this 3D Blu Ray player is the June 2011 Sound & Vision Test winner for ‘What Hi Fi?’ magazine. It looks great, it plays great and it is great…Or so we’re told. But does it pop out at you or is it still a little flat? We pelted our intrepid reviewer with rocks and bits of broken bottles until he agreed to find out for us…

THE SPECS

With a weight of 2.2 kg, this isn’t the lightest Blu Ray player in the world, however, despite being a little on the large side, the Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB 3D still won’t take up too much space. This is a highly regarded, big-selling model, which it would have to be in order to justify a larger retail price than we’re used to.

Blu Ray offers the best quality sound and image available in home entertainment right now and 3D Blu Ray is in even higher demand, but it is worth noting that a 3D Blu Ray player will not make a 2D TV work in 3D. It is also worth noting that without a 1080p HD TV, you won’t even get the best quality out of your Blu Ray in the first place. In addition, you will require a decent stereo system in order to really get the most out of your purchase.

This player comes complete with a built-in WiFi connection, which allows you to use apps, view streamed content and even make Skype calls.

THE PRICE

At £150, this is one of the more expensive Blu Ray players. It remains to be seen whether it will drop further in price over the coming months (the RRP in February of last year was £230, but we’ve seen far bigger reductions on others since then). To be honest, the price is likely to be this product’s major stumbling block.

THE PERFORMANCE

Fairly easy to set up, the Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB 3D glides along like a dream. Each model is equipped with ‘Ultra Fast Booting Time’ as the adverts boast, so you can buy with confidence that you won’t be subject to the (sometimes painful) loading times of certain Blu Ray players.

The Skype option is a lot of fun as well, as you can conduct conversations with multiple people and nobody has to push. In addition, the improved sound of the TV really makes up for the sometimes-dodgy transmissions received during regular Skype calls.

The quality of the 3D is simply stupefying and this Blu Ray can certainly provide you and your friends or family with a satisfying evening of home cinema.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

Despite the vast majority of Amazon’s product reviewers giving it perfect (5 star) reviews, it only has an aggregate score of 4/5. The user ‘James Hagerty’ said that whilst the player was mostly excellent, the laser was very sensitive, noting that even faint smudging or scratching can cause big problems for the viewer.

‘Sunflower’ based in London, pointed out a very serious flaw that I didn’t notice (but definitely bears mentioning if it is indeed the case) that the Internet apps are limited only to those that are pre-programmed in advance. This means that whilst you will get Youtube and Facebook, you will not be able to get iPlayer (or any number of others).

Other reviews (by the delightfully named ‘Porkchop’ amongst others) expressed annoyance that the streaming is actually very difficult and temperamental, in addition to the claim that a disproportionate amount of file types are not actually supported by Panasonic players. ‘Mememo’ (despite offering a 4/5 review) does mention that the player makes an annoying noise whilst playing, something that was also mentioned in other reviews.

‘Tabbycat 23’ (who, I can only imagine is not an actual cat) gave a perfect score, as well as saying that (s)he could not discern any noise emanating from the device (and cats are supposed to have good hearing!), whilst ‘Mark’ adequately described the visuals (before 3D) as “staggering” which is a genuine plus point.

Our Verdict

This is obviously a very good player. However, with the recent price drop taking effect, is it worth paying nearly £70 extra? Personally, I don’t think so.

Too many of the reviews I collated were very critical of Panasonic’s ‘lazy’ customer service and of their Blu Ray players being nowhere near as user friendly or compatible as a Sony or a Samsung.

Blighted by unwillingness to play certain file types and an extremely restrictive WiFi, the Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB 3D doesn’t really live up to the hype. For £150, we have every reason in the world to expect more. This does not mean that the Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB 3D is bad, just that it isn’t as good as Panasonic think it is.

Features:

5/10

Performance:

5/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

7/10

Was: £159.99
Now: £139.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in 3D, HD, Panasonic, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

LG BP120 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 13th 2012

LG BP120 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the LG BP120

Introduction

There’s nothing fancy about this one, it’s just a Blu Ray player, plain and simple. Don’t expect Internet, extra features or any bells and whistles and you won’t be disappointed. But is the LG BP120 Blu-ray Player basic and affordable, or is it simply limited and overpriced? We pelted our reviewer with rotten eggs and curdled milk until he found out for us…

THE SPECS

This Player is small and slim, although it’s not the lightest player in the world (quite where it hides 2.3 kg of weight is a mystery to me). Smaller Blu Ray players are better for the environment, in manufacturing terms, because less harmful chemicals are used to make them. Also, the smaller the player, the less space it takes up.

It is worth noting at this point that although it is tempting to get a Blu Ray upgrade to your home entertainment system, this will be completely futile without a decent sound system and an HD TV with 1080p resolution. Without these things, your Blu Ray discs will look/sound exactly the same as your DVDs do and you’ll be out of pocket.

This Blu Ray player is very, how can I put this? ‘Vanilla’. There aren’t any extra functions, there’s no Internet to speak of and the LG BP120 is actually very limited. It looks good and it plays nicely, but for the price, we can expect a little better.

THE PRICE

The LG BP120 Blu-ray Player will set you back the best part of £80 and therein lays the problem. This is simply too limited a player to command that sort of asking price. There is nothing wrong with it in terms of functionality, but there are players that offer so much more and actually cost about £20 less.

THE PERFORMANCE

The LG BP120 works very well, it is generally quiet, it loads really quickly and provides awesome picture and sound quality. The DVD upscaling is marvellous as well.  Because it was only released a couple of months ago, the BP120 makes use of modern trappings (such as noise reduction and increased speed), but sadly not all of them (quite why this player has neither Ethernet or WiFi compatibility is something of a minor mystery).

The lack of any modern extras on this player is the real let down.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

It’s a veritable ghost town out there. I’m sure that someone, somewhere has reviewed the LG BP120 Blu-ray Player, but Amazon, Youtube and even the official LG website all fail to offer any customer comment at all. Even the Google searches I did came up dry.

Although I could search some more, that defeats the point entirely. We need to see proof that a lot of people are buying this product and whether they like it or don’t like it. I can only deduce from the complete lack of feedback (even from the LG BP120’s official page!) that very few people are actually buying it, which is hardly a recommendation. Those who are buying it are clearly not compelled to share their experiences with the world, at any rate.

Still, it is early days yet. This player has been on the market for all of two months, so you may find that the reviews start to trickle in some time soon. However, I have to say that I don’t think they will. This player was outdated the moment it hit shops, which would be fine if it was the cheapest option out there, but it isn’t.

Our Verdict

This is a decent entry level Blu Ray player. It offers great quality visuals/sound with minimum fuss and won’t let you down on any playback-related front. However, the complete lack of Internet, extras of any kind and peer comments/feedback severely hamper its chances of getting a good review here, while the inflated £80 price tag destroys them completely.

You can get Internet ready players with built-in WiFi, multiple connection ports and much more besides for as low as about £60 – £70. I can’t help but recommend that you do that instead.

Very few people are buying this product and it doesn’t look like any of those who have are tripping over themselves to give it a good review. It is a standard player with slightly above average playback and is available at an above average price. You really are getting less for more, something I’ve never been one to condone.

Buy this if you want an efficient Blu Ray player that does nothing more than efficiently play Blu Rays. However, remember that by doing so, you are cutting yourself off from a great many more up-to-date Blu ray players (most of which, ironically, are a year or so older than this one). There are better players out there, and cheaper, too.

Features:

8/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

7/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £67.95

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, LG, Upscaling | Comments Off

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Tags: blu ray player