Redefining "Universal Player"

I saw some mention of how the ability to play Blu-Ray is now part of what is meant by "universal player". It's not a big deal in the grand scheme, but how can any player be considered universal that doesn't have a digital input? Seeing the latest Denon release is frustrating to me - looks like a great player, but no digital input. It just seems short-sighted to me.
Hmmm. I've had much more than a dozen players, including universals and BluRay players, none have had a digital input and I never even noticed.

And today, there's even a decreasing need for it as more and more players are simply transports which output digital signals to an AVR or prepro. So, we can just us another input on said AVR or prepro. No problem.

I was under the impression that the term universal player described a unit that played all sliver disc formats, i.e. CD, SACD, DVD-A, CD-R (etc.), and now Blu-Ray.

I never thought it had anything to do with having a digital input.

Why would a source component have a digital input? I can understand a digital output, but the digital input requirement has me puzzled.
Tvad, you look at a digital output as understandable, because it is a transport which could use an external DAC. To others, a multi-silver-disc-playing box with an excellent DAC can be used as an external DAC when the next new silver disc or "transport" technology comes along (like BlueRayII or a HDD- or memory-based server).
T-Bone, is there any commercially made universal player produced in the past five years that has a digital input? I'm thinking specifically about the players from the major companies: Sony, Panasonic, Marantz, Denon, etc.?

Do the universal players from Ayre or Esoteric have digital inputs?

My universal player has a digital input, but only because it's a modded player that has an optional digital input available as part of the modification.

I agree it's handy.
I've also never owned a player with a digital input and don't understand the expectation for one. They are certainly the exception rather than the rule, and I can only think of a few off the top of my head that actually offer that option. If you are looking for the ultimate conversion the obvious solution is to get an external DAC with its own power supply, rather than a DAC sharing the box and power supply with the transport. In doing this you can simply plug in the next latest greatest format when it comes out. The newer DACs like the Berkley Alpha are sure to keep up with anything you're likely to find to feed to it. The only reason I could see for wanting to use the internal DAC of a player (assuming you like it of course) is the convenience of using a single box for memory-based playback and disk-based playback. I suppose it's one less set of IC's (or digital cord) and one less PC to purchase and deal with as well.
I am looking for high-quality conversion for a music server, with the ability to play the occassional SACD, DVD or Blu-Ray, and newly purchased CD without ripping it to my music server. I agree, Kr4, that if there is a pre/pro in the system, you can use a digital input and its internal DACs, but my goal would be to get the pre/pro out of the system. In my LR, space is limited, and I have an excellent setup for 2-channel sound, but I'm perfectly content with 2-channel movie playback and therefore don't need all the pre/pro functionality.

There are several examples of high-end, multi-format players with digital inputs. Simaudio, Linn and Wadia all provide players that do at least SACD and Redbook, plus a digital in, and the Linn SC does them all (minus Blu-Ray) with digital in. Esoteric and Ayre do not make players with digital inputs.

I would think a digital input would be one of the least expensive "formats" to support - no licensing, etc. - and provides a level of flexibility that many would want. In my case (and I'm sure others'), I would like to keep box count as low as possible, sound quality as high as possible, cost as low as possible, and flexibility as high as possible. Okay, I want it all :-)
I see your goal Kthomas. I recall that perhaps PS Audio is coming out with something like you describe, but I'm not certain.

FWIW, I have never considered SACD/CD players universal machines. IMO, a truly universal player must include DVD-A, but that's nit picking since DVD-A an SACD formats have been marginalized.
I would like to keep box count as low as possible, sound quality as high as possible, cost as low as possible, and flexibility as high as possible. Okay, I want it all :-)

My Oppo 983H is a universal player of sorts and has USB 2.0 input for PC based digital media. CD, DVD-V, DVD-A, SACD, CDR...probably missing something else too. Oppo should be coming out with their BD-83 pretty soon, though its release has been pushed ahead several times at this point. That player is supposed to add BluRay capabilities to the foundation of the 983H (which is also a superb DVD video player which rivals, though falls just short of, BluRay when upsampled via HDMI to 1080). I cannot comment on the actual analog audio output of the player, but others seem to like it. I use it only as a transport and run the digital out to an external DAC. Oppo prices relative to the Billet'N'BlueLED crowd are relatively affordable.
I would think we have to add netflix and pandora streaming to "such a universal player";NO???
How about LP?

C'mon Kal - I'd have plenty of shelf space if I didn't already have a TT :-)

Part of my point is the functionality it offers, but the other part of my point is that a digital input should be a very simple, very inexpensive thing to include, and it would make the box useful in another way that is becoming increasingly common. While I realize that the Netflix and Pandora sugestions are in jest, they're not in the same vein, IMO. The would require a network connection, software and storage, which would be a substantial addition in complexity and cost. A digital input would just be a small addition to feed the already necessary DAC circuitry.

Thanks, Jax2, for the Oppo suggestion. I have seen small writeups on it, but it's not clear if they will include the digital input. I know the new Denon mega-player does not.