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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 Read More…

My new connected TV, LG 60PS80

Well, well, guess what, I got myself a new TV. With the reluctant acceptance of my wife, I went on Amazon (which at the time had a pretty good deal including free shipping and interest free for a year) and I bought the LG 60PS80 Netcast connected TV.

Without going into details about image quality, sound and so on (there are already a number of sites concentrating on this aspect and I am not the type of person to hunt for minor differences) I want to talk a little bit about the connected part. According to some recent articles, about a quarter of the TVs sold/launched this year are connected. That means they have wired/wireless network connection and a number of clients embedded that support popular services.

This particular TV supports the following clients:

NETFLIX – Arguably the most popular movie streaming service in the world. NETFLIX can be accessed currently on a large number of   TVs, set-top boxes and it might come very soon on iPhone.

There are two main interfaces implemented to access NETFLIX. The so-called Version 1.0 displays your current queue and that’s about it. If you want to see something not currently available in your instant queue, you need to go to your PC and add movies to it. Not necessarily a hard thing to do but I don’t want to access my computer when I am watching TV.

The NETFLIX interface version 2.0 (similar with the one implemented on XBOX 360, PS3 and 7MC) allows you to browse and select movies from multiple categories, so you are not limited only to the movies from your instant queue.

Well, unfortunately LG 60PS80 has only NETFLIX 1.0 so you are stuck with the old style interface. Version 2.0 is available on LG 2010’s TV line and they don’t seem willing to update the firmware for 2009 line (even if the price paid, around $2000 would entitle someone to better support, at least during the first year of ownership). From this perspective, LG as a company seems to not care too much once they sell you a product. I have seen this behavior on their DVD/Blu-ray players as well. However, while I can imagine buying a new Blu-ray player every year, especially with the costs going down, I’ll certainly won’t get another TV for the next 5 years (my wife could read this post 😀 ). OK, enough ranting.

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