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115 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 58927 23-Mar-2010 15:38
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Hi All,

Righto, with Easter on the horizon this means that amongst all the chocolate and other exciting things, there's likely to be the odd sale, in which I'm hoping to finally join the world of blu-ray player owners.

The setup I've currently got is a bit non-standard, in that I have a 32" Sony Full-HD LCD TV (KDL-32W5500) as our main general-watching display, but also a Panasonic HD projector (PT-AX200E), which is used primarily for movies.  Our current source for movies is a Sony DVD player (DVP-NS305), which is currently connected via S-Video (+left/right audio) to the TV, and component (+coaxial digital audio) to a Denon receiver, which in turn feeds component to the projector.  Only one display is ever used at a time - each switched on/off accordingly via a Logitech Harmony remote.

I'm aiming to replace the Sony DVD with a blu-ray player, but also want to get the best picture I can to both displays.  As far as I understand it I need to use HDMI to get 1080p/24, so that will be fed via the receiver to the projector (which will then downscale it to it's 1280x720 resolution).  I'll need to use HDMI to the receiver for audio anyway, as the player will need to do the decoding of the HD audio channels, and output via LPCM.

For ease I'm thinking of getting a 4x2 HDMI matrix switch so that I can HDMI to the TV also - since all HDMI sockets there are free, and the TV component inputs will all still be in use (so I can't do 1080i via component to the TV).

So finally, (after all that background!) to my questions:

1)  I've narrowed the blu-ray player down to the following options - any thoughts/comments etc on any of them?  Any others to consider?:
     a) Sony BDP-S360
     b) Sony BDP-S560
     c) Panasonic DMP-BD60
     d) Panasonic DMP-BD80  (although I don't really need the 7.1 analogue out, so overkill?)
     e) Oppo BDP-80

2)  My current DVD player is region-free, something which at the time I bought it I was advised all players in NZ are modified to be, and as I understand things is still the case, yes?  Are all of the above blu-ray players therefore region free too on both blu-ray and DVD discs, or only on DVDs?  (The Oppo is the only one that makes specific reference to being completely region free on the RapalloAV website).

3)  If the players are not region-free, do I really need to be concerned about it?  Has anyone used any region A or C blu-rays on any of the above players other than the Oppo?

4)  The Oppo is significantly more expensive than the others (especially compared to the Panasonic DMP-BD60, which JB Hi-Fi currently have for only $299!) - is it really that much better?  They state on their website also, that the BDP-80 is not recommended for home theatres with large screens - something which I find rather surprising, and suggests it's not suitable for the projector.  If the picture quality is that much better than the others, surely this implies that none of the others are suitable for projector use either (seems odd to me, as the projector does a great job of scaling the current DVD feed, in my opinion).

I think that's about it (for now).  The aim is obviously get as good a picture as I can to both displays, but I don't want to break the bank either, so I'm looking for the best bang-for-the-buck really.

Thoughts / comments welcome please, and sorry for the long post!!

Cheers,

Simon.

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85 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 310315 23-Mar-2010 17:38
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I have a Panasonic BD-30 and am using a Panasonic AX-100 projector.  Blu-Ray look absolutely fantastic even at 720p resolution.  I was completely gobsmacked when I watched my first Blu-Ray (Pirates of teh Carribean) on it.  Any Blu-Ray player as long as it is not right at the bottom of the range will look fantastic on a projector.

Maybe they were talking about the DVD upscaling abilities.

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  Reply # 310330 23-Mar-2010 18:27
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*I am not a troll*

Honest question (which will also help the OP).

Is the PS3 still one of the cheapest and best BD players?

Or have things now changed?

And yes, I am aware some people would a standalone "player" than a PS3, and the new format of the PS3 (square) may make it harder to fit into some setups.


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 310340 23-Mar-2010 18:50
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If I might suggest you may want to post the questions over at AudioEnz as well. They are a friendly bunch and there is a massive amount of knowledge on the sorts of questions you want answers to.
As for region free you may want to keep hold of the DVD player if you have DVD's that need it. So far not many bluray players can play all regions of DVD's and a much smaller (and for the most part much more expensive) range are region free for blurays.

@ahmad the PS3 does still rank quite well. I think over all the quality of bluray players has come up and it maybe is not quite so high up the list as it once was but still a most capable player.







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Master Geek
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  Reply # 310440 23-Mar-2010 22:41
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Thanks for your replies so far everyone.

@Rhygar - great to hear that the blu-ray performance on your Panasonic gear is as good as you say it is.  With your projector essentially being a slightly earlier model of what I've got, and your player being an earlier model of the BD60 (I think?) that is definitely on the consideration list, it's reassuring to read.

@Nety - Following your comment re AudioEnz, I had a quick look over there, and found a couple of interesting things that do indeed answer some of the questions, as follows (numbered according to my original post):

2)  The Panasonics can apparently be made region free on DVD at an authorised Panasonic service agent, and only takes 10 mins or so.  No mention of cost though, but I've emailed Panasonic in relation to region-free and will see what they say are available solutions.

4)  In a review of the Oppo BDP-83 (the next one up from the Oppo BDP-80), they sum up at the end by saying that "For half the Oppo’s price you can get just as good BD playback from the latest Panasonic BD player", following on to say though that as a one-box solution it's in a class of it's own, since it can do CD, SACD, DVD, DVD-Audio, and Blu-Ray, so clearly a very versatile player.  The BDP-80 can do the same, but since I have no need for SACD of DVD-Audio, then it looks like a Panasonic machine could well be the machine of choice.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 310501 24-Mar-2010 07:29
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It is a free service from Panasonic to make their Blu-ray (for viewing DVD) and DVD players region free , we've had both of ours done.
The load time for Blu-ray discs on our BD60 is a lot slower than on our 60GB PS3, other than that it is a great player.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 310525 24-Mar-2010 08:20
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clevedon: It is a free service from Panasonic to make their Blu-ray (for viewing DVD) and DVD players region free , we've had both of ours done.
The load time for Blu-ray discs on our BD60 is a lot slower than on our 60GB PS3, other than that it is a great player.


That's good to know that it's a free service (on the DVD side, at least), as I do have a handful of other-region DVDs.

Would it be possible for you to give an example of the differences in load times, using the same disc in both the BD60 and the PS3?  As I understand things, the PS3 is generally much faster as it's got more powerful hardware in it, but it'd be interesting to see an example of the actual difference.  I guess we have to take into account the amount of data being read off a blu-ray vs a DVD too, so it's always going to be slower than DVD.

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  Reply # 310538 24-Mar-2010 08:39
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I see in the latest JbHifi flyer that they have a Panasonic player advertized for $299. As per normal no model numbers. Just with that they would drop the corny Australian sales speak and put in model numbers of items..




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  Reply # 310572 24-Mar-2010 09:16
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ahmad: *I am not a troll*

Honest question (which will also help the OP).

Is the PS3 still one of the cheapest and best BD players?

Or have things now changed?

And yes, I am aware some people would a standalone "player" than a PS3, and the new format of the PS3 (square) may make it harder to fit into some setups.



the ps3 is no longer the cheapest nor the best.
- it's about twice the price of a reasonable player

can't comment about the quality of ps3 VS the ones half its price.
but it's far from the best nowadays, although at least above average.
it uses 100W when idle and 25W switched off whereas a BD player would use 20W tops and 0W when on standby. just my 2c!

(BUT the ps3 plays other formats which bd players dont - or at least someone please correct me so i can get rid of my ps3 and buy the bd player that plays everything! ps3 doesnt play sacd)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 310597 24-Mar-2010 09:53
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My question is how big is your DVD library and do you want great DVD upscaling?

The comments I have read say that all Blu Ray players produce near identical Blu Ray quality pictures. The main differences are in load times, ability to play SACD DVD-A etc and DVD upscaling. If you just want Blu Ray then the Panasonic is a great buy for $299, if you want the best of everything then the Oppo is the way to go. As for not suited to big screens they are just saying if you want the best then buy thier more expensive BDP-83 but the 80 is excellent also.

Here is a link to help.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=16678116#post16678116



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 310651 24-Mar-2010 11:27
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old3eyes: I see in the latest JbHifi flyer that they have a Panasonic player advertized for $299. As per normal no model numbers. Just with that they would drop the corny Australian sales speak and put in model numbers of items..


+1 on the model numbers!  I'm taking a guess that this is the BD60 - I was in there last weekend, when it was advertised at $343, so to see that they've reduced it to $299 is even better.  Especially so since the RRP on the Panasonic website is shown at $649.99.

joker97: (BUT the ps3 plays other formats which bd players dont - or at least someone please correct me so i can get rid of my ps3 and buy the bd player that plays everything! ps3 doesnt play sacd)


Looks like you need one of the Oppo's - they can play SACD.  My question though, where can you buy SACDs?

ToPGuNZ: My question is how big is your DVD library and do you want great DVD upscaling


We've got around 60 DVDs, and I'm impressed enough with how the projector scales the 576i signal from the current Sony DVD player, to leave the scaling to that (unless, say, the Panasonic BD60 is better).  I don't think I can justify the extra $500 for the Oppo BDP-80, since by the sounds of it the blu-ray side of things is pretty much the same between players, especially if I have to factor in around $300 for an HDMI matrix switch also.

That link's useful for speed test information - looks like the BD60 is around the same as the PS3, so can't complain there, I don't think.

All useful stuff - thanks everyone!

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 310732 24-Mar-2010 13:36
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Anyone considered the Philips BDP3000? Apparently it starts up reasonably fast. Cheap (currently $247 @ DSE). Picture quality is pretty good for Blu-Ray and DVD according reviews I read. No DTS-HD decoding, but can bitstream via HDMI and let the av receiver/amp decode (if it can). Recent firmware update fixes 24p stutter issue - apparently. I have been considering it, but would prefer buttons on front as it would be used as a CD player also. Anyone tried it?

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  Reply # 311291 25-Mar-2010 14:29
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joker97: ps3 doesnt play sacd

Mine does...

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  Reply # 311528 26-Mar-2010 09:22
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grolschie: Anyone considered the Philips BDP3000? Apparently it starts up reasonably fast. Cheap (currently $247 @ DSE). Picture quality is pretty good for Blu-Ray and DVD according reviews I read. No DTS-HD decoding, but can bitstream via HDMI and let the av receiver/amp decode (if it can). Recent firmware update fixes 24p stutter issue - apparently. I have been considering it, but would prefer buttons on front as it would be used as a CD player also. Anyone tried it?


I tried to respond to this, but my post disappeared.
Start up is fast with the BDP3000.  For disks without complex menu, loading is in a few seconds,only some disks take 20-30 seconds to load to top menu.
I don't know if there was a "stutter" issue - the players Dick Smith are selling are loaded with firmware version 700, and need to be updated to ver 800 immediately as with some recent discs (2012 is one) the (java?) menu will not load correctly.  Firmware update is straight forward (I d/l from PC to USB, then installed via player menu)
BD picture quality is excellent.  DVD upscaling is supposed to be very good, but given the choice (BD vs upscaled DVD) there's no comparison in my opinion.
CD audio out is perfect.  DVD load time is very fast, and tracking of old scratchy DVDs seems very good.
Disk playing noise level (mechanical) is extremely low - it makes less noise than  the fan on my laptop.
There's play/pause buttons on the front as well as power/eject.  It might depend on connectivity of your system, with mine (Sony Bravia TV) the TV remote works via HDMI for control of the BD player, so after initial setup, the Philips remote isn't really needed - leave it sitting by the player if audio CD navigation is needed.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 311531 26-Mar-2010 09:29
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Thanks for the info Fred99. Does the DVD upconversion/upscaling compare well to a standalone DVD player? We have a Pioneer DV-400V DVD player which upscales nicely - but looking for an all-in-one player. Thanks.

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  Reply # 311549 26-Mar-2010 10:23
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grolschie: Thanks for the info Fred99. Does the DVD upconversion/upscaling compare well to a standalone DVD player? We have a Pioneer DV-400V DVD player which upscales nicely - but looking for an all-in-one player. Thanks.


The upscaling is good in that whatever algorithm they use for removal/mimimalising of aliasing is effective - and I think that's the worst part of DVD playback on HDTV.  But the initial impression that it looks "much" better fades once your expectation level is raised by viewing 1080p bluray disks.
I can't compare the BDP3000 with anything else - you'd need to set up a side by side test with everything optimised to suit the characteristics of each player.
I hate to say it, but comparing two different upscaling DVD players is a little bit like comparing two brands of no-frills budget cheese - in the end it's not what you're going to want to eat for lunch.

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