FOGEY 5 Blu-ray disc players

Sep 12, 2011 No Comments by

The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

1 Sony BDP S570

It’s probably stating the bleedin’ obvious to say Blu-ray players aren’t much to look at.  Aside from the Samsung, below, they’re anonymous, slender and black.  But this is the way of the black box world and what would be preferable – leopard skin prints?  The S570 plays 3D Blu-ray discs (as well as standard Blu-ray and DVDs – which it ‘upscales’), is wi-fi enabled (so, via your wireless router, it can access the Internet and any AV content stored on your computer), has 1GB of internal memory and can be operated from your iPhone (an app turns it into a remote).  The Internet connectivity also means you can access catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer or 4OD.  Bear in mind, of course, that you will also need a 3D TV to watch 3D discs.  “Probably the best all-round Blu-ray player yet,” said Cnet while pointing out that, if you want to run the S570 through an AV amp/receiver, it will need to have HDMI v1.4 connectivity otherwise you’ll only get 2D pictures. And that if you then run the S570’s HDMI out directly into your TV (so you do see the images in 3D) you “lose the ability to listen to high-resolution DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks.”  Compatibility – don’t you just love it?  Launched late 2010.

Around £220 or less.  More info here.  Buy Sony BDP-S570B 3D Blu-ray Player

2= Samsung BD D6900

Another 3D machine; this one also promises to turn your standard 2D discs into some sort of 3D, although it seems to help if you have a 2D  version of a movie (such as Avatar) that was shot in 3D.  It’s wi-fi enabled, much like the Sony, but scores with a growing selection of Samsung apps that allow you to access favoured content (BBC iPlayer, Facebook, Twitter for example) via on-screen app icons as opposed to wading through layers of menu options.  This is a profile 5.0 player which means it has enhanced features previous profiles won’t have had (in this case 3D).  Weirdly the previous profile was 2.0 but since when has logic played any part in gizmo evolution?  The D6900 is a cheaper version of the D8500 and whereas that model had twin Freeview HD tuners with 500GB of storage, the D6900 only has one Freeview HD tuner which means you can’t use it to record.  “The astonishing feature list, which includes all the latest features such as 3D playback, internet content, DLNA networking and extensive multimedia support, is second to none, plus its 3D/2D picture performance is superb,” said Trusted Reviews.  Slightly confusingly there is a model C6900 which differs from the D6900 by nothaving a built-in tuner and so being about £50 cheaper.

Around £200 or less.  More info here.  Buy Samsung BD-D6900 Blu-ray 3D player

2= Sony BDP S470B

When launched in Q2 2010 this machine retailed for a penny under £180 and the tech press were giddy with admiration that Sony could cram in so many features at such a low price.  The spec: 3D, access online content and your PC wirelessly (albeit via a dongle sold separately for 70-bleedin’-quid), BBC iPlayer, controllable from an iPhone, will upscale standard DVDs to 1080p ‘Full HD’ (well, sort of…).  Inevitably there’s now a newer model but this hasn’t affected the price of the S470, which is still quite strong at around £150* which in turn implies it’s in demand and desirable.  One reason is versatility; it will play CD, DVD, Blu-ray disc (2D and 3D) and even high res Super Audio CD.  “Why anyone would pay beyond this price for a Blu-ray player just does not compute,” said Tech Radar.  “The BDP-S470 is not only a superb player, but also offers support for online content, media playback and networking. Sony has listened to its customers and is producing sensibly priced products that perform brilliantly,” said Cnet.  Even if you don’t have a 3D TV now, it makes some sort of sense to get a player such as this just in case – especially when it’s so affordable.
Around £150.  More info here.  Buy Sony BDPS470B 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

*Since this post was written, the price of the BDP S470B has almost doubled.  The best price on Amazon on Feb 27th 2012 was nearly £280.  What is going on?

2= Panasonic DMP BDT310

Yet another 3D player that possibly confirms the industry’s determination to ram 3D down our throats whether we want it or not.  As of Q1 2010 24 million of us had forked out for an HD TV.  And now we’re supposed to junk it and shell out for a 3D TV when all there is to watch in 3D is 3D Blu-ray (so you also have to buy a 3D enabled Blu-ray player) and a bit of sport and movies on Sky.  The TV industry has a vested interest in flogging new gear but whether the consumer can reconcile the cost with the supposed advantages is another matter entirely.  Rant over – back to the 310.  Aside from all the usual specification a couple of features might be of interest; unlike the Sony S470 and the Samsung, the Panasonic has built-in wi-fi so there’s no extra dongle purchase necessary and it has a dedicated input in the rear for a Skype camera so you can have those global video chats on your TV instead of your PC.  It also has two HDMI outputs – one is HDMI 1.3 and the other is HDMI 1.4 – which means you can run the 1.4 cable to your TV for the 3D picture and the other through an older AV amp (that isn’t HDMI 1.4 compatible) for the sound.  Got that?  “If you’ve got a decent old amp and don’t want to have to upgrade it, then this is the player for you,” said Trusted Reviews.  “A great Blu-ray player with enough features to keep even the most enthusiastic users entertained for a long time,” said Cnet.  Launched Q1 2011.

Around £250 or less.  More info here.  Buy Panasonic DMP-BDT310EB 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

5= Sony BDP S370

The eagle of eye will have noticed there are six players featured here.  In terms of editorial scores and user reviews these last two players tied, as did the three above, so it seemed fair to include them all.  Having been around for over 12 months, the S370 should be a bargain by now.  It isn’t 3D and if you want to liberate the wireless connectivity you must buy the dreaded dongle (see S470, above) but when connected to the Internet (you could do this via an Ethernet cable if your router is nearby or via doobries that plug into standard electrical sockets thus creating a network in your house – more about that here) it will deliver BBC iPlayer progs that are HD in said HD.  Which is nice.  Having said that, your broadband speed might not be up to such streaming demands and the S370 has nowhere on which to download iPlayer programmes so you can watch them later without any buffering bollocks.  “In its principle (sic) role as a Blu-ray deck the BDP-S370 does a sterling job and is more than a good match for a decent full HD flatscreen,” said What Video & Hi-Def TV.  “The Sony BDP-S370 is cheap, but it does everything you could want from a Blu-ray player, and more,” said Cnet, where it was the Editor’s Choice for July 2010.

Around £180 or less.  More info here.  Buy Sony BDPS370 Blu-ray Player

5= Panasonic DMP BDT110

Of the three 3D machines in Panasonic’s 2011 range, the 110 is the cheapest (or ‘most affordable’ if we’re hoping to imply that it’s good value but not shite).   It doesn’t have BBC iPlayer or built-in wi-fi (the dongle to enable wi-fi connectivity is an additional £79 from Panasonic) but most other omissions are in the ‘gimmick’ category – Touch Sense, for example, which opens and closes the disc tray with an imperious hand wave and is in the 210 and 310.  “It’s this tiny Blu-ray player’s skill with both 2D and 3D that makes it a great all-rounder,” said Pocket Lint.  “If you don’t require the bells and whistles of the DMP-BDT310 then the BDT110 is a great way of getting the same top-notch performance and saving a bit of cash,” said Tech Radar.  The fact that all the machines featured here can access varying degrees of on-line content is a big fat clue to the future when, so the theory goes, we’ll stream everything we watch on TV from cyberspace.  But the practicalities of this depend on broadband speeds and unless BT (which controls most of the UK’s broadband infrastructure) starts laying thousands of miles of fibre-optic cable we won’t be enjoying showers of film and TV from The Cloud any time soon.

Around £120 or less.  More info here.  Buy Panasonic DMP-BDT110EB 3D Blu-ray Disc Player