Introduction to Video Player Reviews

As physical media is slowly replaced by streamed content, it’s important to understand just how you’ll get the very best video source material to that shiny new display. Whether it’s a television or a projector, you’ll need some way to feed it. In the past we had scores of DVD players to choose from but now Blu-ray is the gold standard when you’re talking about shiny discs. And Ultra HD Blu-ray is just starting to appear on the market and with it, expanded color gamuts like Rec.2020 and extended contrast from HDR encoding.

Audio formats are equally important. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D represent the latest technology that seeks to make movie sound more realistic and enveloping. Knowing how to get the most from them is a key factor in our reviews of players, AV receivers and surround processors.

For those looking to stream their content, we include coverage of media servers and streaming devices. A wealth of content can be found on the Internet and no technology has been left out here. HDR, Ultra HD and advanced audio codecs are just as prevalent as they are on Blu-ray disc.

Once you’ve decided on a new display, be it television or projector, we can show you the best sources to use for your ultimate home theater experience.

Review Categories

Video Players Reviews

Pioneer BDP-62FD Universal Blu-ray Player

Every year Pioneer updates their Blu-ray players, and every year I wind up happy yet disappointed with them. Each year performance and features seem to improve only to have a flaw, like edge enhancement or poor colorspace support, derail the Pioneer from being really top notch. This year Pioneer is offering the BDP-62FD, a $400 universal Blu-ray player that carries the Elite badge and features dual HDMI outputs among other features.

Oppo BDP-103 Universal Blu-ray Player

For years now, Oppo has dominated the high-end of DVD and Blu-ray players. Virtually every other reviewer and enthusiast I know has at least one in their system, if not more. I've personally been using their players going back to the DVD days, and have had every single one of their Blu-ray players, including their new BDP-103, reviewed here.

OPPO BDP-105 Universal Blu-ray Player Review

OPPO continues its tradition of being leader of the pack with the introduction of the BDP-105 Universal Player. It has every type of input that one could want, making it truly a player that can handle all types of media and sources. The video quality is superb (video results coming in Chris Heinonen's review of the 103 which has the same video circuit as the 105), and the audio quality (tested in this review) is what we have come to expect from OPPO: audiophile-grade.

Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player

The Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray player does a good job of performing at a high quality level, but at an affordable price. Dual HDMI outputs, Original Resolution mode, and multiple video settings are available to work well in any system.

Sony BDP-S590 Blu-ray Player

Sony was the inventor and chief advocate of Blu-ray and has probably put more players into homes than any other company with the PlayStation 3.  However when we ran a pair of their players through our HDMI Benchmark, one of which is the subject of this review: the Sony BDP-S590.

Cambridge 751BD Universal 3D Blu-ray Player

In a bit of a surprise, the Universal Blu-ray player market has gone through a big upswing recently. While DVD-Audio and SACD might be considered dead audio formats to the mainstream media, more and more players for home are including support for them now. One fairly recent addition to the group is the Cambridge Audio 751BD Audiophile Blu-ray player. It also supports 3D Blu-ray, and I was quite excited to have the chance to try out this unit myself.

Pioneer BDP-52FD 3D Universal Blu-ray Player

Of all the new equipment that I saw at the CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis in 2011, my favorite booth visit was to Pioneer. Showing me around their booth and their new products, it was obvious they had read our review of their last generation of Blu-ray players. So, here is another one, in this case, the BDP-52FD, which is 3D-capable, and will play DVD-A as well as SACD, making it a universal player.

Toshiba BDX5200 3D Blu-ray Player

To compare today's Blu-ray players with the very first models that shipped back in 2006, one would find those early players to be a mere shadow of what's available today. Early adopters had to live without full lossless sound support, no 24p, no Internet apps, terrible ergonomics, glacially slow load times, and of course, high prices. Now we have models like Toshiba's BDX-5200 that give you everything but the kitchen sink for under $180. Ain't technology great?

Panasonic DMP-BDT210 3D Blu-ray Player

Sales figures for home theater components are not something I really pay attention to. I'd much rather own something that works great than to have what's popular, or to have my opinion influenced by sales numbers. However, I'd be willing to bet that Panasonic has done pretty well with their 3D Blu-ray players this year because of one huge advantage they have over everyone else: The ability to include Avatar 3D for consumers. And now, you can get a 3D Blu-ray player for $200: the Panasonic DMP-BDT210.

McIntosh MVP881 Universal Blu-ray Player

McIntosh is one of the most distinctive, and iconic, brands in all of Hi-Fi. Sporting a look that seemingly has never changed, they are most well known for their two channel amps and preamps, but also have a full line of home theater components as well. The MVP881 is McIntosh's contribution to the world of universal players (CD, DVD-A, and SACD). At $8,000 there is a lot of less expensive alternatives as competition. How did the McIntosh compare? Read on.

Samsung BD-D5500 Blu-ray Player

At the CEDIA Expo last fall, the big push for everyone was 3D and online connectivity. We all knew that 3D was going to be everywhere, but also, everyone seemed to have an iPhone or Android Application, and was trying to offer as much online content to the user as possible. Samsung's new BD-D5500 is 3D-capable, and does a pretty good job with regular Blu-ray movies as well, all for less than $200.

Pioneer BDP-43FD Blu-ray Player

The first Blu-ray players that I reviewed for Secrets many years ago were Pioneer models. Up until then, the only player I had used was a PlayStation 3, and was looking forward to a regular box that my universal remote could control and would be easier for my wife to operate. While the Pioneer players did fulfill those requirements, they were also far slower in use than the PS3 was, and as was common for most players then offered no online capability at all. Skip ahead a few years and at the CEDIA Expo, Pioneer was displaying players that were not only much faster and smaller that those early models, but had online streaming capabilities and other features as well. I asked them to send along a unit as soon as they could, and they happily provided me with their BDP-43FD model from their Elite line.