We've been hard on standalone Blu-ray players from the start. At first, they were astronomically priced, while HD DVD was able to deliver much of the same performance for less. Then HD DVD dropped out, but the PlayStation 3 was able to offer great Blu-ray playback, plus media streaming and high-def gaming for the same price or less than standalones. And lately we've seen some standalone Blu-ray players priced significantly less than the PS3, like the Insignia NS-BRDVD and Philips BD7200, but their image quality performance isn't quite as good as we'd like.
The Panasonic DMP-BD35 finally escapes the conventional wisdom against standalones. We put it head-to-head with the PS3 in image-quality tests, and it performed nearly identically, which is to say Blu-ray, movies looked fantastic. The DMP-BD35 also has all the key features we look for, including Profile 2.0 support and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. To wrap it all up, it carries a list price of $300, which is $100 less than the PS3. All this adds up to the best value in standalone Blu-ray players today, and that's why the DMP-BD35 receives our Editors' Choice award--the first we've given to a Blu-ray player.