Blu-ray may have started out as a mess, with confusing "profiles" and painfully slow load times, but this year's standalone players have finally gotten their acts together. The new 2009 Blu-ray players are already hitting retailers and we're happy to report that all the units we've tested have full Profile 2.0 compatibility, as well as onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. The days of half-baked standalone Blu-ray players are pretty much over.
The Samsung BD-P3600 is the standout player of the bunch, going beyond the basic features to include Netflix and Pandora streaming, 7.1 analog outputs, 1GB onboard memory, and an included Wi-Fi USB dongle. We were also very impressed with its operational speed, as it's the only player we've seen that is generally as fast as the Sony PlayStation 3.