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Old 9 Nov 2012, 07:58 AM   #1
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Default Looking for a new Blu-Ray player

I used to just use my PS3, but now that I took it to college with me, I need another alternative I can leave at home for my family to use.

Right now, I have this refurbished unit I bought on Woot a couple years ago, I believe it's by Samsung. It works fine for playing movies, but it's really really slow - you put in a disc and it takes literally an entire minute before anything shows up at all. The menus take forever to load, and so on.

I'm not sure if that's just because it's a cheap player or what.

So I saw this newer model on Woot:
Samsung Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi

Is that any good? Or would it have the same problem? The fact that it has Wi-Fi is nice, and it's only $50.

Or are there any other suggestions for inexpensive Blu-Ray settop players? I'm mainly looking for the fastest one, I don't care much about aesthetics or who makes it, I just hate that Blu-Rays take even longer than DVDs which took longer than VHS tapes to just get the movie started.
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Old 9 Nov 2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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I found a review for the player you linked to, and it has fairly good loading speeds, so I don't think you'll have any real issues. Samsung players though, in my limited experience, can be a bit quirky and have the odd playback bugs (that Samsung may or may not fix via firmware, for example, I have a BD-C6900 that skips audio via optical output). A better brand would be Panasonic.

As for speed, the PS3 still actually beats some of the mid-high range Blu-ray players out there, although some are now also faster. I find the PS3 still more responsive (eg. remote control commands) than most out there, even if it takes a couple of seconds longer to load discs.

Here's some comparison data for a Cnet roundup:

Comparison Data
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Old 9 Nov 2012, 08:20 PM   #3
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Yeah, the PS3 is really nice, I just don't want to buy a second PS3 and I'm using mine at college now.

Are Sony's settop players any good? My friend has one that looks a lot like the XMB when you press stop, it's just only got the relevant options.

The main thing I hate about my Samsung is how laggy the remote is. If I hit rewind and let it go, I have to press play about 20 times before it actually starts playing, and needless to say I usually end up rewinding it way too far as a result. I doubt any other players have a Bluetooth remote like the PS3, right?

Though, the one annoying thing about the PS3 remote is that since it uses Bluetooth and not IR, I can't program my TV's volume in there, meaning we have to use two remotes just to watch a movie. On the other hand, my cable box's remote has a function to program the TV so the volume keys will work for that purpose.

Panasonic is indeed good, I love their TVs - in fact, my current Samsung player has its own "fake" VieraLink that basically makes Panasonic think it's the official one. So if I turn my Blu-Ray player on, it automatically sets itself to the proper HDMI input, and vice versa. (That can actually get annoying if someone bumps the remote, but it's great for my parents who can't remember how to operate the TV )

So given that I want to spend around $100 or less, what would your suggestion be for a brand/specific model?
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 01:04 AM   #4
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Well, the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 that I linked to in the Cnet review is available from Amazon for $99 at the moment, so given that it actually has a fairly comprehensive review to back it up, I would probably just go for that. It also has 3D support, if you ever need it, but sadly misses out on DivX/Xvid playback (so not an ideal media player replacement). The Sony players should have similar support to the PS3 in terms of media playback (so MP4, but no MKV, for example), and they're also very solid players.

As I posted in the other thread, Panasonic's VIERA Link is just their trade name for HDMI CEC, and any device that supports HDMI CEC should be compatible with VIERA Link functions (despite what the manufacturer says), since it should all be based on the same HDMI standard. The PS3 itself can be made to work with VIERA Link or Samsung's Anynet+, but only the "Slim" variety (and the most recent super slim one), as the original did not support HDMI CEC via hardware.
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 07:55 AM   #5
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Well, what about something like this?
Amazon.com: Sony BDPBX39 Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi and HDMI cable (Black): Electronics

Sony's players seem to be a bit more compact, the Samsung I have as well as the Panasonics have really wide bodies, not that it's a bad thing but I don't have that much space on the shelf. Do those have the CEC thing? My friend's Sony player is pretty nice, but a little bit more square (as in, rectangular, not curvy looking) and it's an older model without Wi-Fi.

I would personally prefer Panasonic just to match the TV but I'm assuming it really doesn't matter in the long run, a disc player is a disc player. So what would you get if you were the one buying it?

Also, about the 3D thing - I wonder if there will ever be a way to force the 3D output on a 2D TV. I saw a little rig the other day that basically tells the player that you have a 3D TV, and instead it displays it as a red/blue 3D image on your regular TV. I would love something like that if it wasn't red/blue, but real 3D...
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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Personally as far as buying for myself I am looking at the Samsung BD-5900
Biggest thing that is selling me is it does everything else as the other players, but the playback formats are incredible. Check it out

Video Formats: H.264, MPEG-2/4, Xvid, MKV, HD JPEG, WMV, AVCHD, VC1
Audio Formats: MP3, AC3, LPCM, WMA, AAC, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio

With the price tag of about $115 seems like a good invertment.
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 02:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drfsupercenter View Post
Well, what about something like this?
Amazon.com: Sony BDPBX39 Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi and HDMI cable (Black): Electronics

Sony's players seem to be a bit more compact, the Samsung I have as well as the Panasonics have really wide bodies, not that it's a bad thing but I don't have that much space on the shelf. Do those have the CEC thing? My friend's Sony player is pretty nice, but a little bit more square (as in, rectangular, not curvy looking) and it's an older model without Wi-Fi.

I would personally prefer Panasonic just to match the TV but I'm assuming it really doesn't matter in the long run, a disc player is a disc player. So what would you get if you were the one buying it?

Also, about the 3D thing - I wonder if there will ever be a way to force the 3D output on a 2D TV. I saw a little rig the other day that basically tells the player that you have a 3D TV, and instead it displays it as a red/blue 3D image on your regular TV. I would love something like that if it wasn't red/blue, but real 3D...
The Sony player will almost certainly have BRAVIA Sync/CEC, so unless Sony have botched their implementation, it should work with your TV/receiver.

I would probably get the Panasonic if I was sure I wouldn't need DivX/Xvid playback, but it does seem like a quite important missing feature. The most recent Samsungs do have great format support (I now often skip using the PS3 as my streaming media player, and just use the built-in player on my Samsung TV), and if it's not a model that has odd quirks (check online first), then these are very good players indeed.

The Sony sounds like the safe bet, maybe not as fully featured as the Samsung (won't play MKVs for a start), but as good a brand as the Panasonic.

As for 3D, there's no real way of getting around getting a 3D TV, but you'll still be watching 2D 99% of the time even if you're a big fan of 3D (which I'm not).
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 02:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
I would probably get the Panasonic if I was sure I wouldn't need DivX/Xvid playback, but it does seem like a quite important missing feature. The most recent Samsungs do have great format support (I now often skip using the PS3 as my streaming media player, and just use the built-in player on my Samsung TV), and if it's not a model that has odd quirks (check online first), then these are very good players indeed.
Well honestly, I have never used anything but discs myself - The PS3 is one thing since it has a hard drive and I can store videos on it, but how would you even do it with a settop player? I can't really see the appeal to burning encoded video files to a disc, I'd rather just use the original disc.

So if all I care about is how long it takes to load discs and respond to remote commands, would the Sony still be better than Panasonic? I like Panasonic a lot better as a brand, and the remote would be similar to the TV one they already know how to use - I just know my friend's Sony Blu-Ray player is really nice; I have never seen a Panasonic one in use and first-hand experience means more to me than specs. (Since even the crappiest and cheapest BD player will play BD discs...)

Quote:
As for 3D, there's no real way of getting around getting a 3D TV, but you'll still be watching 2D 99% of the time even if you're a big fan of 3D (which I'm not).
And that's why I'm not buying a 3D TV, my current 50" Panasonic plasma works great and there's no reason to replace it when I only own a few 2D/3D Blu-Ray combo packs.

But there are a few movies I would love to watch in 3D again, like Tron Legacy, Transformers 3 etc.

Do you know the 3D conversion thing I am talking about? If not:
Amazon.com: 3D Video Wizard Console with 2 Pack of 3D Adult Glasses: Electronics

I haven't seen one of these in operation and I'm not going to spend 40 bucks on something that still uses really old 3D glasses technology, but I'm under the impression that it tricks your Blu-Ray player into thinking you have a 3D TV so you can watch the 3D stream of the movie. It then just converts it to a format your regular TV can display.
And I still don't understand why this isn't possible with polarized 3D. Yes, you need double the framerate, but isn't 1080p 60fps part of the spec? Whereas movies are only 24fps (30 if you convert them to NTSC), so that IS double the framerate right there.
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 04:31 PM   #9
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Today's 3D discs and broadcasts require the HDMI input to support 120Hz input, but non 3D TVs are only capable of 120Hz display, not input (input is limited to 60Hz, the 120Hz comes from the internal software upconverting the picture). The TV also needs to be able to detect the 3D stream (eg. in alternative frame sequencing, one frame for left eye, the next frame for right eye, at double the frame-rate of the video itself) and convert that into something 3D glasses (either passive, or active, depending on the TV itself) can interpret. There are no major technical advances or costs associated with 3D TV (it's not as if a new panel design or something like that is needed), but there are still lots of hardware and software differences between 2D and 3D TVs.

The device you linked to simply converts 3D signals to anaglyph (red/cyan glasses, from days gone by). Blu-ray 3D players don't usually support anaglyph 3D because the quality is quite poor, but also because if they added it, then it wouldn't help drive sales to 3D TVs. Software Blu-ray players, like PowerDVD or ArcSoft TMT, do support anaglyph 3D though.

The only problem with the Sony player is that there's a chance it might not be fully compliant with CEC, and so the sync feature may not work. For CEC, the safest bet is still with a player from the same brand, which is Panasonic.
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Old 10 Nov 2012, 05:14 PM   #10
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Thanks, I'll go with Panasonic then. Are all their players VieraLink compliant? I don't know if that $100 is the cheapest they have, I will have to look around some more - if so, I guess that model will do.

As far as 3D, I still don't understand *why* it needs to be 120Hz for 3D to work, considering that movies are only 30fps. Or does 60Hz equal 30fps?
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Old 11 Nov 2012, 02:35 PM   #11
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Panasonic DMP-BDT220 definitely has VIERA link, and I'm fairly certain all their players would have it. Just be warned that it doesn't support AVI/DivX/Xvid, not even via streaming, but oddly enough, it does support MKV/MP4 I think.

Films are actually encoded in 24p, but in the US, they are displayed in 60 frames (well, 59.94 Hz) on TVs. It's like how computer games can be 30 FPS, but are displayed on your computer monitor at 60 Hz. This is because 24 frames per second (and 30 FPS) isn't actually enough to give you a smooth picture (think back to movies from the early days of silent cinema, and how jerky they were).

The actual process takes 24 frames and convert it into 30 frames (called 3:2 pulldown), and then split each frame into odd and even fields (so each field features other all the odd lines or all the even lines in a particular frame), and then displays this at 60 fields per second (60Hz). This process is called Telecine.

But because 24 doesn't go into 30 or 60 evenly, the process actually reuses frames in an uneven manner (some some frames are used more than other frames to create the fields). This is what produces uneven motion, or telecine judder.

With Blu-ray, some TVs now have a mode call cinema smooth (I think Panasonic calls it Smooth Film), which takes the 24 frames and then simply display it at a multiple of this (eg. 48, 72, 96 or 120Hz). Without the uneven duplication of frames, playback is smooth, and it's what cinemas use as well.

But all of the above still means that the actual input to the TV is 24p or 60 Hz. They may then display the input as 120Hz or even 240Hz by simply duplicating the frames more times (or intelligently creating new frames based on the difference between two frames - called frame interpolation), but their input is still limited to 24p/50/60Hz. For 3D, remembering that each eye is seeing something unique at all times, so each eye actually needs at least 60Hz for the picture to be smooth - so 120Hz all added up. So the 3D TV needs 120 Hz input and the software/hardware to decode the input into something 3D glasses can understand (plus also sync with active glasses, the left/right eye shutter needs to be timed perfectly to allow each eye to be seeing the right image, at 60Hz, at any one time).

So to sum up:

2D TV:
- 24p, 50Hz or 60Hz input
- Displays at 60Hz, 120Hz or more

3D TV:
- 24p, 50Hz or 60Hz, and 120Hz input
- Displays at 60Hz, 120Hz or more
- Sync with 3D Glasses for active 3D system, or display in polarized fashion for passive systems
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Old 18 Nov 2012, 01:36 PM   #12
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So a guy at Best Buy told me that 60Hz is the same as 60fps, is that wrong? I know that video game consoles like the Xbox 360 use 60fps HDMI at 1080p and work fine on my regular 2D TV.

I can't see any added benefit to duplicating frames - if it's shot at 24fps, making it 48fps won't help anything, which is why the upcoming Hobbit movie is such a big deal because it's actually *filmed* at 48fps. Simply duplicating frames doesn't make it any smoother at all...

But related to TVs, I saw this at Walmart earlier:
http://i.imgur.com/NWQ1D.jpg
Notice how it's 3D and says it has a 60Hz refresh rate? So I'm pretty sure 60Hz *can* indeed do 3D, the movie industry is just trying to prevent people from stealing polarized cinema glasses and watching 3D movies without paying for overly expensive equipment.

Unless that TV is labeled wrong.
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Old 18 Nov 2012, 07:31 PM   #13
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It's not wrong, although you'll find that most 360/PS3 games are running at 30 FPS. This makes the motion not as smooth on plasma screens (on PCs, try playing a game at 30 FPS and another one running at 60 FPS, and you should be easily able to tell the difference, even though your monitor is always displaying at 60 Hz), many of which do not employ some kind of frame interpolation that are more common with LED/LCD sets.

Hopefully the next-gen of game consoles will be powerful enough to output 60 FPS all the time.

The benefit from frame duplication (for film content) comes from not having to do 3:2 pulldown, but you're right, 24p still isn't enough for perfectly smooth content (especially on plasmas), which is why The Hobbit is being shot at a native 48p (so no frame duplication, actual native shooting) - but some will complain it looks less like film, and more like video, since we're all used to the shimmering/juddering that defines the film look.

3:2 pulldown is bad, and why it's bad is explained by this graphic:

http://wiki.digital-digest.com/image...32pulldown.gif

Note that the top field of frame "A" and "C" are being duplicated, while this isn't happening with frame B and D - this actually makes the movie flow slowly (by an extra frame), and then quickly again, and then slowly again ... hence the uneven motion. It's most noticeable during slow panning shots. Frame duplication (24p to 48/72/96/120 Hz) duplicates all frames evenly, so the motion is even, but during fast panning shots, you still start to see the problem with shooting film at a low 24 fps framerate. Frame interpolation (creating new frames based on the differences between two sequential frames) can solve this latter problem, but it also creates other artifacts.

I think the TV label is wrong, because this CNET review for the same TV (?) shows 120Hz as a "main feature":

Vizio E3D320VX Review - Watch CNET's Video Review

Also, those polarized glasses require a passive 3D TV, like the ones LG makes. And RealD 3D glasses from the cinema may work on these TVs, at least some people have posted saying so. Passive glasses (the ones used in cinemas) won't work with active 3D TVs, as the active glasses are battery powered (they are made of LCD panels that flick on/off for the left/right eye).
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Old 19 Nov 2012, 04:31 PM   #14
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Right, I know the difference between active 3D and passive 3D.

So basically, why couldn't you force a 60Hz TV to display passive 3D content at 30fps per eye? I realize it would look blurry, but it beats shelling out cash to buy a new TV.


As far as 3:2 pulldown, I know inverse telecine filters for video encoding can undo that, and I was under the impression that TVs do the same thing - at least if you have a 1080i or 480i input. Really, wasn't the whole 3:2 pulldown thing for CRTs where the picture had to be interlaced, and the frames were progressive to start? I didn't think anyone still used that.
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Old 20 Nov 2012, 12:08 AM   #15
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Passive 3D needs a special coating on the screen itself (usually silver oxide, at least in the cinemas) in order to allow the polarization effect to work. In many ways, this is a more expensive exercise than active 3Ds (with active 3D, the glasses are the most expensive component in the system, with passive, it's the display itself).

As for 3:2 pulldown, TVs still mostly expect a 60Hz signal, so the 24p film content on Blu-rays for example has to be converted to 60Hz somehow, and 3:2 is used. By default, all Blu-ray players output at 60Hz, I guess because when they designed it, most TVs were still limited to this (and also backwards compatibility and stuff). 60Hz is a fairly arbitrary number these days, especially since most mid-high range displays can do 100-240Hz easily (depending on the technology) - which is why "cinema mode" or frame duplication (preferably @ at least 96Hz - some Panasonics only do 48Hz, which can be quite flickery) is, in my opinion, a must-have if you watch a lot of Blu-ray movies, as this will get you as close to the original cinematic presentation as possible (frame interpolation, that is creating new frames to pad the framerate, is not a personal favourite of mine for movies - it makes the motion look funny and too video like. But it's really good for sports).
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