Time to pull the trigger on BluRay?

I am woefully ignorant about where we are with bluray. Is it time to buy? If so what are the SOTA players? I assume these players will play DVD and perhaps some other formats. I vaguely remember hearing that there are some features/quality issues still being worked out. Please educate the ignorant.
Right now the best Blu Ray player for the money is the PS3. Denon will have a universal Blu Ray player out in the begining of the year but it is 3800.00. Other than that I would say the 3800 by denon is probably the best.
Panasonic has a good one, rated about as good as the PS3 and for less money. The Panasonic DMP-BD 35 and DMP-BD 55 are their latest versions. Don't buy earlier blu-ray players since they have issues, including long load times and lesser quality and/or features. The only difference between the BD 35 and 55 is the audio outputs. If your receiver or av processor can receive auido via HDMI inputs then the 35 fits the bill. Prices should be no more tha $300. The 55 has analogue audio outputs (5.1) and sells for about $100 more. Comparable latest offerings from Sony don't have still frame by frame advance, and may or may not be as good in video quality, depending on the reviews you read.

Oppo is also supposed to be coming out with one that will no doubt best the current Panasonic and Sony offerings, and likely for $500 or $600.
In my view this is a system question rather then an individual component/technology question. There are a lot of standards that need to interact if you want to realize the potential of BluRay.

In my opinion the standards have now reached a point of maturity that is very high quality and will last for a few years because it is going to take that long for the manufacturers, content creators and consumers to catch up.

So yes, the best products are now mature enough to buy IF your HT system can take advantage of the BluRay format. Meaning:

- The BluRay player you buy is standard 1.2 or better
- The BlueRay output signal is carried on HDMI 1.3a or better
- Your receiver is HDMI 1.3a capable or better - both in and out
- Your receiver can decode the new uncompressed audio formats and you have at least a 5.1 rig
- Your display is 1080p and has an HDMI input
- You are prepared to buy premium HDMI cables for runs over 1 meter
- You are interested in the content that is currently available on BluRay
- You are prepared to have a separate DVD player

An awful lot of the BluRay players currently on the market do not meet these standards.

The Playstation is highly regarded by many - personally I find the controller/GUI clunky and gamery. If you like games its a no brainer.

The Panny BD 30/35 and 50/55 are all excellent. The BluRay 2.0 standard indicates that a device has an Ethernet port and can connect to and interact with online content that in theory the studios are rushing to produce to stimulate BluRay sales - this is called BD Live. Jury has not even been selected on this marketing inspiration.

As far as multi-channel audio output there is a practical matter to consider. If you cannot run HDMI into your receiver/display you are looking at 3 component cables plus 5-7 audio ICs. That is going to cost a whole lot more then one of these players.

Problem for the industry right now (and this was prior to the metdown which most likely will exaggerate it) is that a lot of consumers are very happy with their DVD players, especially if they have something which upscales well.

Expectations are that the Oppo BluRay will most likely be out Q1 if not at CES next month and if they run true to form will no doubt be the giant killer. With any luck at all they may even do a good job playing back DVDs.

Personally I am stunned with the quality of my all HDMI system. This is all very reasonably priced (less then $300) consumer gear.

I have a Pani BluRay, an Oppos DVD, a DirecTv HD-DVR and an Apple TV. All four of these pristine sources cost less then a modest turntable and cartridge, a reel to reel tape deck, a DAT or most anything we all used to aspire to.

The Pioneers of the world are still building magnificent cases with massive power supplies and tons of features to preserve their margins. But they don't seem to test any better then the carefully selected SOTA low end stuff.

These technologies are being rolled out globally. In many ways I find it much more useful to think about all this as computer technology instead of audio video technology.

One last thought - unless you have a stocking to fill, why not wait until the smoke clears after CES and the current stuff is obsolete even though it hasn't been delivered for more then a few months. Presidents Days Sales are usually a good time to buy last years stuff... Amazon refurbs are another good way to go.
There is a another thread "denon bluray" running right now that address the new universal blu ray. Might gather some more infor there. Just as an FYI.
Dont forget about fan noise, some of these units are pretty lud and can be annoying, as for "High Quality" HDMI wire I think thats a joke, HDMI is HDMI. It will be fun to see the new Oppo when it finally hits the market, I have HDDVD player and an upsample DVD aswell as Lexicon DVD unit but have not went Blu as my Projector is only 720P so when I upgrade that I will likely go Blu too.
Also as others mentioned if you go HDMI for video but cant go HDMI into reciever/Processor then make sure your unit has built in decoder to output multi channel RCA connections if you wish to get most up to date sound.
Check out the Marantz BD-8002 Blu Ray player.

At $2k, it ain't cheap, but its performance makes it a bargain. The upscaled picture with the Realta chip is outstanding. The Blu Ray picture is incredible.

There are several other offerings for less money that are good. But, for a big screen like yours...the Marantz is the way to go.
The issue with HDMI cables is how long it is. There is no shortage of posts from people having problems with their HDMI signal over longer runs.

Pretty consistently the problem is resolved with a better cable.

There are also booster boxes for very long runs.
Chadnliz said "HDMI is HDMI". Not exactly. There are important differences between different versions of HDMI (1.1, 1.2, 1.3a). In particular only 1.3a handles the latest discrete 7.1 channel audio formats, and Deep Color ( not really in use yet, but just wait...).
No, just buy a PS3 with 160g, Blu-Ray audio on a large scale is waiting in the wings. Sony is in the process of mastering many SACD's into blu-ray. I've heard the blu-ray audio disk and it will be the format of the future. I am sure Sony will have a feature laddened unit for the next Christmas season. Most likely it will show up first at the CIDEA show in the Fall.
Yeah I would just go with the PS3 , since it is upgradeable friendly compared to most standalone players. You can get a remote for it here PlayStation 3 Blu Wave Remote.

If your SXRD is 1080P you'll see the benefits of Blu ray. If it is not..you'll still have a great picture. It will be just short a million pixels or so in resolution. Which does make a difference.

You can pick up a decent 1.3 HDMI from www.monoprice.com. It will do everything you need.

If you need to run the cable over long distances and the spaces to where your PJ is mounted are tight or your processor/receiver are in a confined location . You can use CAT5 cable and HDMI extenders. They'll convert the signal over the CAT5 and then reconvert it back before it goes into your PJ. You can run HDMI up to 150 ft or so this way without any loss in sound or picture quality.

I've seen a few SXRDs hooked to Denon Blu ray players. The picture quality is breathtaking. I doubt you'd see a major difference if any using the PS3 on the other hand.

I would save that money for a new PJ, if your current unit isn't 1080P and for Blu Ray rentals or purchases. ;-)

By the way, for the ones that haven't seen "Band of Brothers" on Blu Ray...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

Watching this movie on a full 1080P display is like watching a live play through a window! Definitely one of the best PQs and sound I've seen or heard from Blu Ray.
"12-07-08: Ghostrider45

Chadnliz said "HDMI is HDMI". Not exactly. There are important differences between different versions of HDMI (1.1, 1.2, 1.3a). In particular only 1.3a handles the latest discrete 7.1 channel audio formats, and Deep Color ( not really in use yet, but just wait...)."


In order for deep color to be of any use to the consumer the deep color specification not only has to be implemented on the disc,but also on the equipment side. ie; the cameras in use as well as the film and lets not forget the actual play back gear that would have to be purchased and, an agreed spec, with the powers that be. For this to come together would be one mighty expensive endeavor(changing alot of perfectly good equipment) with all of the media concerns.
Bottom line,don't hold your breath for high bit deep color any time soon,if ever...

[Also about hdmi and audio from Kurt at Blue Jean Cables]

"Just to clarify a point or two:

1.3 does not signify greater bandwidth than 1.2. 1.3 Category 2 does (although, in any particular case, it's entirely possible that the 1.2 cable has just as much bandwidth as the Cat2 1.3); 1.3 Category 1 is tested to exactly the same bandwidth as 1.2.

The choice of audio format does not affect the data rate at all. Accordingly, while cable bandwidth might be relevant when you're dealing with differing resolutions, color depths, and frame rates, it is entirely irrelevant when dealing with the various different supported audio formats. What'll determine which audio formats will work will be the equipment at either end of the cable, not the cable itself."
Blue Jeans Cable
Yes, its time to buy. I just bought the Panny BD-35 online for $229 with free shipping. Amazon had the player at $199 at one point, but i missed that sale. I also have the Panny BD-30, but it lacks an ethernet connection, which I wanted. However, both are excellent players and Panasonic supports their players well with firmware updates, etc. The BD-35 is also excellent with standard DVDs, which has historically been the downfall of blu-ray players. With blu-ray now as cheap as the Oppo players, for example, its time to get in the game.
If you have a 1080P display, are the sort to watch the 'making of' & assorted extras on the added discs accompanying the DVD, can connect to the internet one more device, like commercials, and don't mind the near $30 per copy disc prices, then definitely get a BR player.

Given the nature of HDMI has changed several times in just the recent past, it is likely another itteration is forthcoming.

And just when is 1080P content coming for TV? it'll be a good long while.

I liked the nod to upsampling SD DVD content best. SD DVDs are plentiful and inexpensive. The title choices there are plentiful as well.

IMO the BR & HDMI stanards are still not fixed, nor are there sufficient titles at decent priciing to necessitate a huge investment right now into Blue Ray discs & gear.

If you truly wish to get in, get in cheap. Things are still evolving.

Oppos' BR player was originally slated for about this time last year, but they went with a reference SD DVD player instead, the 983. Some sort of hold up with the processing chip and/or rights from Sony. I will say though, if and or when oppo does come out with one, it will surely have to be on one's short list of Blue Ray players to check out given their track record for performance and value.
YES and on the cheap too. I bought the Panasonic BD 55 ($325-Amazon) for an older no HDMI HDTV to taste Blu Ray. I was less than overwhelmed looking at Blu Ray through video components. (Let that be a warning everybody!) However, I was forced to look for a 32" flat screen for a second room HT system. I discovered I didn't need to pay for the added cost of 1080i/p or even 120Hz refresh for my smaller flat screen purchase. I got a 32" Sony flat screen from Best Buy just priced down to $500 from $650 the day after Thanksgiving and it paired up with the BD 55 magnificently. I discovered for screens under 36", a 740i capable screen is fine. Above 36" you will want 1080 capability but I saved at least $3-400 for my screen size revelation. Also, the Panasonic BD35 (w/out video components) would have been fine for my needs and cost $100 less. In short, you can enjoy Blu Ray HD for under $750 without a problem with a Panasonic BD 35 for $225 (Amazon)and a 32" HD flat screen in the $500 and less range. If nothing else, seriously consider the Panasonic BD 35/55. They're not "universal" players - no SACD or DVD-Audio but will give you all the current state of the art Blu Ray-HT audio formats to enjoy high definition images. Seeing Batman Begins and 2001 Space Odessy in high def is worth it. Also, the upconvert feature for regular DVDs is outstanding and won't make you want to rush out and rebuy your entire DVD collection. However, you will want to get Blu Ray releases clearly identified as "outstanding". (Sadly not all Blu Ray movies are equal, just as not all early CD audio releases of favorite vinyl recordings are sonic gems.)
As respects HDMI lenght: I have a 75 foot monster hdmi cable running from the sat box in my sound room to my pc room and 1080i is no problem at all (direct TV to dvdo Iscan VP30 to PC monitor).
Thanks for all the responses. I do need a machine that does both BluRay and DVD well. I surmise from the responses that if one does not have HDMI connections that it may not be worth doing. I need to check the access to my projector.
i bought pioneer's elites bdp 95fd. By far the best picture quality out there. And also fully upgradeable with software.
More importantly find out if it's 1080P capable. If so that signal can be carried on RBG component cables. HDMI allows for both video and audio if 1.2 or higher on one cable, AND video upsampling.... component cables won't allow for this upsampling. it's not really an issue with the wires... it's the copy protection imbedded on the disc and which way Hollywood wanted it to be conveyed to keep it protected/manipulated.

My FPJ has HDMI INPUT. It's only 720P though, which for me is good enough.
Jim most modern displays I know of..including projectors don't allow 1080P transfers through RGB. With RGB.. 1080i or 720P is as good as one can get. As nice as 720P looks..it isn't 1080P by a long shot.

HDMI has its advantages, like lip sync correction.

Revision History:

HDMI 1.0 -Single-cable digital audio/video connection with a maximum bitrate of 4.9 Gbit/s. Supports up to 165Mpixels/s video (1080p60 Hz or UXGA) and 8-channel/192 kHz/24-bit audio.

HDMI 1.1 - Added support for DVD audio

HDMI 1.2 -Added support for One Bit Audio, used on Super Audio CDs, up to 8 channels. Ability for PC sources to use native RGB color-space while retaining the option to support the YCbCr CE color space.

HDMI 1.3- Increases single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbit/s)
-Optionally supports 30-bit, 36-bit, and 48-bit xvYCC with Deep Color or over one billion colors, up from 24-bit sRGB or YCbCr in previous versions.
-Incorporates automatic audio syncing (lip sync) capability.
-Supports output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams for external decoding by AV receivers.

-Availability of a new mini connector for devices such as camcorders.

Do I need HDMI 1.3:

You will still get incredible HD picture quality with HDMI 1.1 and 1.2 and all versions support 1080P. HDMI 1.3 is backwards compatible with previous versions of HDMI. Getting HDMI 1.3 display and HDMI sources will enable you to take advantage of the extra feature enhancements available. If you are in the market for a new HDTV, then it would be advisable to get one with HDMI 1.3 support. However, you should look for the specific features that is supported.

HDMI 1.3 – what is different:

On the physical layer level, all HDMI versions utilize Transmission Minimized Differential Signaling, TMDS and the physical connector looks identical. The major enhancements of HDMI 1.3 are:

Expanded Data Rate Support
HDMI 1.2 supports aggregate data rate of 4.95 Gbps.
In order to ensure that HDMI is the connectivity of the future, HDMI 1.3 has provisions to eventually double the bandwidth from 4.95 Gbps to 10.2 Gbps. For comparative purpose, USB 2.0 has a maximum data transfer rate of 480 Mbps, 1/20 of the data rate of HDMI 1.3.

Although, HDMI 1.3 has provision for up to 10.2Gbps, the transition will be gradual with the first devices available to achieve 6.75Gbps initially.

Deeper Color and higher resolution
The increased bandwidth in HDMI 1.3 enables higher display resolutions beyond the typical 1920x1080P resolution and improved color depth. For example, HDMI 1.2 allows 8 bits/ pixel to be allocated for color information. In version 1.3, HDMI has provisions to support 10, 12 and 16 bit color/ pixel thus allowing for even improvement in picture quality.

Lip Synch Correction
The modern HDTV performs complex digital processing to the incoming video signal such as de-interlacing, format conversion, noise reduction and etc. The digital video processing takes finite time to execute and must be synchronized with the audio portion of the incoming signal to ensure that both video and audio are synchronized and no delay is perceived. Most HDTV have compensation to ensure that the audio and video are properly synchronized However, many consumers will likely process the audio separately in a surround sound system. HDMI 1.3’s lip synch feature allows the audio and video signal to be synchronized to external HDMI devices.

Mini Connector
HDMI 1.3 has also added an optional mini HDMI connectors so handheld HD video devices such as HD video cameras can also utilize HDMI for HD connectivity.
My projector is 1080P and likely has HDMI (need to crawl up there to confirm). I need to check the prepro. It is a 2 year old Theta Casablanca III. Cost a fortune, hope it has the connection!
I thought I might post my observations as I recently bought a Panasonic bd-35. The HD looks great, but the SD up conversion going to my 1080p 100" projector is okay at best. It does not compare in any area to my Toshiba HD-A30 with the more advanced up scaling. If you have a lot of DVDs a better upscaler is still a good idea IMO. BTW, the sound is great out of the Panasonic.
I recently got a sony bdp s550. The picture is very good on my 51" crt rear projection tv, but what really blew me away is the sound. Way better placement of things happening in the surrounds and fronts.You might call it holographic.
I am decoding the sound in the player and sending it straight through my anthem avm50 via hdmi.
Very pleased!!