While we are still not sold on this whole 3D thing, it's pretty clear that the consumer electronics industry is of a different mind. One of the barriers standing in the way of mass-adoption of 3D for the home has been high price. This year, equipment makers seem to be doing their part in at least lowering that hurdle. As blogged about earlier, we saw that when we updated our report on LCD TVs. Now that we've looked at the 2011 crop of Blu-ray Disc players -- many of which are 3D Blu-ray Disc players -- it's clear that the story is the same with those. Add in the Internet-streaming features that many Blu-ray players bring to the table -- eliminating the need for a separate digital media player (such as the Roku XDS) -- and the value becomes even more compelling. You can get the full Blu-ray Disc player story in our just updated report.
Blu-ray players are the best choice for most
Not long ago, there was legitimate debate over whether DVD or Blu-ray was the best choice for most families. That debate is now pretty much over. Except for those on the very tightest of budgets and those that don't have and don't plan to buy an HDTV, there seem to be few remaining reasons to not opt for the latest technology.
As an example, the Panasonic DMP-BD75 costs about the same as a mainstream upconverting DVD player and can handle standard DVDs just about as well. However it can also play Blu-ray Discs with aplomb and brings a small assortment of must-have Internet streaming content (Netflix, Vudu and CinemaNow) to your TV screen. It's a great budget option among Blu-ray players. Still, for a few dollars extra we'd suggest stepping up to the Panasonic DMP-BDT110 3D Blu-ray Disc player. In addition to future-proofing your purchase -- just in case the 3D bug bites -- the DMP-BDT110 offers a fuller Internet experience, including Twitter, Skype support, Amazon Instant and more.
If your budget is a little bigger, the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 brings wireless Internet connectivity (the two lower priced Panasonic players require a hard-wired network connection or an optional and extra cost adapter) and a handful of other features -- such as a touch-free disc loading mechanism. We think it's one of the best choices right now for most families looking for a good performing and feature-rich Blu-ray player.
Experts say that these Blu-ray disc players -- as well as most competing ones from makers such as Samsung, Sony, LG and others -- will please the vast majority of users in terms of picture quality (with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs), features and performance. For those that demand just a little bit more -- and are prepared to pay the price to get it -- Oppo's latest offerings deliver the goods. Most -- though not all -- reviewers can't lavish enough praise on the Oppo BDP-93, especially its handling of standard definition DVDs, and it's performance with Blu-ray approaches perfection. Audio performance is good enough to wow all but the pickiest of audiophiles; for them, Oppo rolls out the BDP-95. Though very expensive, the BDP-95 provides audio performance that strains the limits of even the most sophisticated testing equipment, according to one report. Both players also offer great 3D performance. One shortcoming is that while Internet streaming with built-in Wi-Fi is included, the number of content partners is very small.
For more information on these players and others -- including the Sony PlayStation 3 (still a great choice if you also want a sophisticated video game platform as well as a good performing 3D Blu-ray player in one unit) -- check out our Blu-ray player report.