Whether you go for an entry-level Blu-ray player or a more expensive midrange model mostly comes down to whether you need one feature: built-in Wi-Fi. Samsung's BD-C5500 lacks built-in Wi-Fi (although it can be added with an $80 USB dongle), but comes in about at $65 cheaper than the step-up BD-C6500 and still offers up the same excellent image quality.
The BD-C5500 also features Samsung Apps, the company's expandable platform for streaming media and other Internet services like Twitter. Though it may not achieve the same popularity as Apple's App Store, the platform is already well-stocked with … Read more
Now that Wi-Fi and extensive support for streaming media services such as Netflix has become commonplace on midrange Blu-ray players, manufacturers have struggled to find ways to stand out from the pack. Samsung's differentiating feature on the BD-C6500's is Samsung Apps, the company's expandable platform for streaming media and other Internet services like Twitter. While it may not achieve the same popularity as Apple's App Store, the platform is already well-stocked with names like Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and YouTube.
Aside from Samsung Apps, the BD-C6500 is also one of the few players to also keep 7.… Read more
It seems like as soon as Blu-ray became a definitively mainstream home theater format, manufacturers scrambled to find a new format to charge extra for: 3D. Samsung's BD-C6900 ($360 street price) is the first 3D Blu-ray player we've reviewed so far, and the 3D price premium is steep. The step-down BD-C6500 is nearly identical except it lacks 3D and costs about $135 less. Not to mention the fact that you'll need to buy a new HDTV and pricey 3D glasses, as well as 3D content--which is exceedingly rare at the moment. We also didn't find the … Read more
Panasonic made the first standalone Blu-ray player good enough for us to recommend; however, since then the company's Blu-ray line has lagged behind that of other manufacturers. None of Panasonic's 2009 Blu-ray players support Netflix video streaming or include Wi-Fi, two features that now seem must-have as media streaming becomes a big reason why people upgrade to Blu-ray.
The DMP-BD85K is the midrange player in Panasonic's 2010 Blu-ray line, and it corrects many of errors the company made with last year's model by including a USB Wi-Fi adapter and adding Netflix--as well as Pandora in the … Read more
LG has consistently been ahead of the pack when it comes to new Blu-ray features, which is why it was a surprise at CES 2010 when nearly every manufacturer announced a 3D Blu-ray player--except LG. Instead, the company went in a completely different direction with its flagship model, the BD590, which includes a built-in hard drive for CD ripping.
Though 3D might get all the hype, we think LG's strategy makes a lot of sense. We're not expecting more than a handful of 3D Blu-ray titles in 2010, whereas CD ripping is a feature that buyers can … Read more
Disc compatibility issues have plagued Blu-ray since the format came out. At first, we figured it was part of Blu-ray's growing pains and would eventually go away, like the annoying confusion about Blu-ray profiles. However, disc compatibility issues have persisted and manufacturers regularly have to issue firmware updates for their players when certain movies won't play.
We recently posted a review for the LG BD570 and shortly afterward we saw several user opinions complaining about playback issues on "Up"--primarily, the movie skipping ahead at 1:03. That's frustrating for us; "Up" wasn't a disc we looked at during our tests, but obviously glitchy playback is a serious issue. Our review of the BD590 is also coming soon, so we wanted to investigate.
We contacted LG about the issue (they're looking into it) and rush ordered a copy of "Up." The first time we tried to load "Up" on the BD590, the player froze and we were forced to power it off. But after that, to our surprise, the movie played fine on both the LG BD570 and BD590 on several attempts, with no chapter skips around 1:03. (We had no issues with "Terminator: Salvation," either, another disc that some found problematic.)
Considering the initial freeze-up was the only time that happened during our testing period with the BD590, it's hard to consider it a major flaw. We don't doubt that people are having trouble with playback issues, but since we don't have any firsthand evidence that the BD570/BD590 have significant playback or disc compatibility problems, we're not going to ding it in our review. … Read more