Top connected DVD/Blu-ray players of 2010 – a buyer’s guide

In case you haven’t heard, Blu-ray won the format war and the prices are finally at the level where everybody should be able to afford them. Streaming movies becomes increasingly popular and the mighty NETFLIX appears on more and more connected devices. Today, we will take a look at the latest and greatest mainstream connected Blu-ray players from major manufacturers as LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony.

Before going into details, we’ll talk a little bit more about what a connected device is and what you need to take full advantage of its full functionality.

As more and more entertainment Internet services started to get popular, and I am talking about movie/music streaming and pictures, a lot of people figured it out that it makes a lot of sense if they somehow can be integrated in the home theater systems. At the beginning, the most technologically gifted consumers used HTPC (and they still do) but having a PC in the living room is not for everybody. A lot of media streaming doesn’t require a lot of tinkering and configurations so the big electronics manufacturers  looked to embed various clients into their connected Blu-ray players or TV lines. The first big company to push for such clients was, you guessed, NETFLIX. The first NETFLIX set-top-box was provided by Roku, and made history, but nobody likes too many boxes laying around (if it would be up to me, I would integrate everything in the TV, but we are a long way from that).

Anyway, NETFLIX began the revolution and figured out that is possible and also convenient. More services as they became popular started to be integrated as well, like Picasa and Flickr for pictures, Amazon Video on Demand, CinemaNow and VUDU for movies, Pandora and Last.fm for music.

Obviously, you need broadband internet access to take advantage of these features. Some sets will include wireless adapters, but for those who doesn’t, you’ll need a wired network connection (recommended if it is possible inside your home)

You will also need a good TV set, 1080p recommended to take advantage of the full movie quality that Blu-ray standard offers. A newer receiver is recommended, because the old ones, as good as they might sound, don’t have HDMI ports nor support the latest sound standards.

Last but certainly not less important is the addition of 3D movies capability for 2010 models for many manufacturers. While the content is not here yet, and it will take a while until the 3D TVs will become mainstream, 3D capability addition will certainly push its adoption. If you build it, they will come.

LG continues its 2009 trend offering good connection capabilities (their 2009 BD390 Blu-ray player set the standard in terms of internet connectivity) and adds additional clients.Notable mention, BD590 model includes a 250GB hard drive where you can store music, photos and HD Movies purchased from VUDU.

Model Number BD550 BD570 BD590 


Wireless NO YES YES
Audio/Video Formats Supported MPEG4 AVC, HP@L4.1, MPEG2, HP@ML, SMPTE VC1, AP@L3, MPEG2, HP@ML, AVCHD DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG4 AVC, HP@L4.1, MPEG2, HP@ML, SMPTE VC1, AP@L3, MPEG2, HP@ML, AVCHD, MKV DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG4 AVC, HP@L4.1, MPEG2, HP@ML, SMPTE VC1, AP@L3, MPEG2, HP@ML, AVCHD, MKV
Audio/Video Formats Supported from Home Network DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG2 TS/PS, MPEG1 SS, XVID, MKV, AVI, WMA, MP3, AC3, AAC, JPEG, PNG DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG2 TS/PS, MPEG1 SS, XVID, MKV, AVI, WMA, MP3, AC3, AAC, JPEG, PNG
Internet Services Supported Netflix®, Vudu™, YouTube™, Roxio® CinemaNow, Pandora®, Picasa™, AccuWeather® Netflix®, Vudu™, YouTube™, Roxio® CinemaNow, Pandora®, Picasa™, AccuWeather® Netflix®, Vudu™, YouTube™, Roxio® CinemaNow, Pandora®, Picasa™, AccuWeather®
DLNA NO YES YES
3D Capable NO NO NO
MSRP $230 $300 $420

Samsung’s 2010 Blu-ray line adds 3D support, thin sets and 15 seconds boot time. Making a departure from their “BD-P” model number prefixes, the 2010 model names now begin with “BD-C.” Models range from the entry level BD-C5500 to the 3D capable BD-C6900.

Model Number BD-C5500 BD-C6500 BD-C6900 


Wireless Ready, not included YES YES
Audio/Video Formats Supported DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA
Audio/Video Formats Supported from Home Network DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA DivX®/DivX HD, XVID, MP4v3, H.264 BP/MP/HP, VC-1 AP(wmv1), VC-1 SM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3, WMA
Internet Services Supported BlockBuster®, Netflix®, YouTube™, Facebook®, Twitter®, Flickr™, Pandora® BlockBuster®, Netflix®, YouTube™, Facebook®, Twitter®, Flickr™, Pandora® BlockBuster®, Netflix®, YouTube™, Facebook®, Twitter®, Flickr™, Pandora®, Associated Press and USA Today.® Also includes Monopoly from EA, interactive card games, etc
DLNA YES YES YES
3D Capable NO NO YES
MSRP $179.99 $249.99 N/A

Sony tries to complete the home theater equipment needs of consumers with these 2010 Blu-ray Disc Players. They come in a monolithic design concept along with built-in WiFi which should allow you to channel through the web and explore a huge choice of online content and services.

Model Number BDP-S370 BDP-S470 BDP-S570 


Wireless Ready, not included Ready, not included YES
Audio/Video Formats Supported DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV
Audio/Video Formats Supported from Home Network DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG, WMA, WMV, MPEG1/2, MPEG4, WAV
Internet Services Supported Netflix®, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Slacker® Internet Radio, Pandora®, NPR, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and over 25 total providers through the Sony BRAVIA® Internet Video platform Netflix®, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Slacker® Internet Radio, Pandora®, NPR, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and over 25 total providers through the Sony BRAVIA® Internet Video platform Netflix®, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Slacker® Internet Radio, Pandora®, NPR, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and over 25 total providers through the Sony BRAVIA® Internet Video platform
DLNA YES (firmware update)
YES (firmware update)
YES (firmware update)
3D Capable NO NO NO
MSRP $179.99 $199.99 $249.99

With superior sound and stunning HD-quality images, Panasonic Blu-ray disc players provide a Hollywood experience in your home. In addition to viewing movies with the quality intended by the filmmaker, the line offers a variety of interactive features designed to allow consumers to enjoy content that is streamed directly into their homes and well as self-created content from a Digital Still or High Definition camcorder. One of the notable features is ultra-fast 0.5 seconds booting.

Model Number DMP-BD45 DMP-BD65K 

DMP-BD70VK 

DMP-BD85K 

Wireless NO Ready, not included NO YES
Audio/Video Formats Supported AVCHD, MPEG2
JPEG, MP3
MP3, JPEG (HD), DivX® MP3, JPEG (HD), DivX® MP3
JPEG
DivX® /DivX HD
Audio/Video Formats Supported from Home Network N/A N/A N/A N/A
Internet Services Supported VieraCast – Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube™, Picasa™, Bloomberg TV VieraCast – Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube™, Picasa™, Bloomberg TV VieraCast – Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube™, Picasa™, Bloomberg TV
DLNA NO NO NO NO
3D Capable NO NO NO NO
MSRP $159.95 $179.95 $399.95 $249.95

What Blu-ray player you ultimately choose will have to satisfy your particular needs. LG was a pioneer in offering DLNA but now, everybody except Panasonic offers it. Everybody offers NETFLIX streaming along with a plethora of other services, so you can also base your buying decision of whatever services are a must-have for you. I didn’t go into particular details about HDMI outputs, sound, etc. because in 2010 all the main manufacturers offer more or less the same capabilities.

I posted the MSRP prices, but not the Amazon prices because the latter ones tend to change almost daily. Amazon also offers free shipping and no tax in most of the states, so in my opinion is the best place to buy at this point.

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