Blu-Ray DVD Players - Blu-Ray DVD Player Reviews

Released onto the US and Canadian markets during 2006, High Definition Blu-ray DVD players from Panasonic, Samsung and Pioneer are set to change the video map. Though initial models, at between $1000 and $1800, are expensive that will not last long as competition from HD-DVD and more manufacturers gear up.

HDTV sets with the newer, potentially sharper, 1080p resolution will be coming out over the same time frame and you can expect sales of the players to help drive those of the sets and vice-versa.

Technical side notes, before launching into the product reviews: 720 or 1080 represent the number of horizontal lines of pixels, with the larger number corresponding to 1920 x 1080 resolution. The letter 'p' or 'i' stands for progressive and interlaced, respectively. Interlacing 'paints' the screen in two passes, one for even lines another for odd, progressive does so in a single pass.

Overall picture quality is determined by several things, not just the total number of lines or pixels. Interlaced projection has to paint the lines in such a way as to fool the eye to avoid flicker. That depends on frame rates, which also come in a variety. Differing frame rates and projection methods introduce the need to convert signals. How, and how well, that conversion is done has a large effect on the perceived picture quality.

Blu-ray DVD uses a blue light laser to illuminate the pits found in any DVD disc (now known as BD discs). Blue light has a shorter wavelength, allowing the pits to be spaced closer together, so more information can be packed into the same space.

One of the advantages of the new Blu-ray DVD players is their ability to output a 1080p signal via the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) jack. HD-DVD models are capable only of 1080i resolution. Most current sets convert the signal anyway, though, so you won't see any difference. But newer, 1080p native resolution sets are on the way and will become common in HDTV over the couple of years.

Any of the models we're about to look out will have this feature.

Samsung BD-P1000

The Samsung BD-P1000 is anticipated to be the least expensive, but at $1000 is still twice the cost of Toshiba's HD-DVD player. As with most consumer electronics, the price can be expected to drop, if not on this model then on future ones.

For that money the consumer can expect a slim, quality unit from one of the leaders in HDTV. Their DLP TVs are consistently rated among the best available in that class.

In addition, the player will have a 9-in-2 Multi Memory Card slot that will enable viewers to see digital photos on their set. That may or may not be a big advantage, since many HDTV sets come with a similar capacity built-in.

The Samsung will also offer the ability to set an alarm, presumably in order to alert the viewer to an upcoming show or event. Details are sketchy at this point.

Like the other models, the unit is a DVD player only but recordable models are expected in another year or so.

Pioneer BDP-HD1

Pioneer's foray into the HD player market will offer some features not found on the Samsung. The BDP-HD1 is expected to make use of their proprietary Home Media Gallery software that allows viewers to display digital photos, listen to music or watch movies all stored on the home computer.

All that content can be displayed in 1080p, but of course this is useless unless the source material has sufficiently good resolution to take advantage of it.

Pioneer makes excellent quality consumer electronics goods (their CD changer is the best on the market) and has for decades. Their HDTV models are highly rated and consumers can expect a reliable, well performing unit.

But those features and that quality will come with a stiff price tag. The BDP-HD1 is slated to premier for $1,800.

Panasonic DMP-BD10

Scheduled to arrive later than the others, the DMP-BD10 is slated for September 2006, along with Panasonic's new plasma-type 1080p HDTV.

Price, for a Blu-ray DVD player, is anticipated to be in the middle of the pack at under $1,500 according to company data. Even at that price, the company has the advantage of being one of the most highly rated in the field. Their DVD player and HDTV sets are second to none.

The unit is promised to debut with the company's proprietary EZ-Sync HDAVI feature. The feature allows viewers to connect and control multiple HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) units with a single remote control.

Sony Playstation 3

It remains to be seen whether Sony's hotly anticipated Playstation 3 will provide these 'full HD' players with further competition. The unit, slated for release November 2006, is reported to be able to play Blu-ray DVD discs, along with downloading and playing games. At $600 it would radically alter the playing field.

You may soon be competing with the kids for control of the game console, just to play a great looking movie.

Whichever brand or model you investigate, be sure to look past the hype and actually test the model in the store. First generation technology has a way of disappointing viewers who have only read about the features.