Here at CNET, we've taken a skeptical eye toward the high-end market for Blu-ray players. When videophile experts like the Criterion Collection and Joe Kane extol the image quality of the PlayStation 3, it's hard to see why anybody would spend more than $1,000 on a player. That being said, there's still a market for high-end Blu-ray players and that's exactly where Marantz's latest line of Blu-ray players is aimed at, with prices from $6,000 to $500.
To be fair, the $6,000 Marantz UD9004 is loaded with features. It's a true universal player (Blu-ray, DVD, CD, SACD, DVD-Audio) and it takes AV fidelity so seriously it offers up two HDMI outputs (one for audio, one for video) to further reduce the chance of either signal becoming degraded in any way. Other high-end touches include stereo XLR outputs, a RS-232, and Silicon Optix's REALTA HQV processor to handle video chores. Of course, the $500 Oppo BDP-83 is also a universal player and has been getting rave reviews from home theater enthusiasts (ours to come soon). Whether the UD9004 is worth the extra $5,500 is your call. Marantz also offers a step-down universal player, the UD8004, for $2,200.
The step-down players are more reasonably priced, with the BD7004 coming in at $800 and the BD5004 coming in at $550. While the spec sheets hit all the major features we look for, we still find it surprising that premium Blu-ray players (like the Onkyo DV-BD507 earlier this week) are shying away from offering streaming Internet content, like Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand, on their Blu-ray players.
What do you think? Is low-resolution content like streaming Netflix completely out of place on high-end players like the UD9004? Or are even videophiles occasionally willing to lower their standards in the name of instant gratification?