How to buy a Blu-ray player

The Feedster

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Jun 26, 2007
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Just as there are £150 home cinemas and £70,000 custom installations,Blu-ray players exist to satisfy various hi-def desires.
There are threedistinct standards of Blu-ray players in shops, all of which treat discsdifferently.
Early adopters who bought a Blu-ray player last year are nowfaced with the latest crop of decks that are cleverer – and often cheaper –than their own.
Some might cry foul and wonder why they should be expectedto buy a Blu-ray player that could (and probably will) be considered ‘obsolete’in the not too distant future.
It’s a fair point, but how many of us havereplaced our DVD players for one that can play Divx files? Or even upgraded ourTVs to models with digital TV tuners?
It’s not unusual to have a tiered market for consumerelectronics, and the Blu-ray market is no different.
Blu-ray: the story so far

Blu-ray players releases up until October last year were allProfile 1.0 machines. Big-sellers from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Loewe, LGand Sharp all sported HDMI outputs and offered a range of high-end features.
Thekey advantage of any Blu-ray machine, of course, is that they supply yourHD-ready television with sparkling high-definition pictures.
Whatever Blu-ray player you plump for, this innate skillremains, and if you’re the type of person who never watches the ‘extras’ discsin your DVD collection, you’ve absolutely no need to worry about thedifferences between Profile 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0.
The main reason for buying aBlu-ray player is to enjoy cutting-edge, uncompressed, high-definition picturequality for movies – and all players are capable of doing just that.
It’s those of us who do want to access as much extra content– whether embedded in discs or available online – that should take note ofwhat’s on offer on the new machines.
BonusView and BD Live

The ever-evolving Blu-ray disc format has two distinctplatforms: BonusView and BD Live.
BonusView, otherwise known as Profile 1.1, is a minimumspecification that all new Blu-ray players must comply with.
Often called‘interactive’ features, in reality BonusView material found on new Blu-raydiscs includes items like new camera angles, director’s commentaries and otherextras.
Picture-in-picture display of certain extras is also only possible withProfile 1.1 (or later).
If your Blu-ray player is Profile 1.0 (part of the firstwave of decks up until October 2007) you will not be able to see what extracontent is on a Blu-ray disc – so you will not know what you’re missing!
BD Java

You’llsometimes see the terminology ‘BD Java-compatible’ applied to BonusViewplayers. This relates to the software in a player that can read extra content ona Blu-ray disc that a Profile 1.0 player cannot.
As an aside, there’s absolutely no reason for a Profile 1.1player to have an Ethernet port for connecting to the Internet.
Some do, butthese are used more for features such as updating firmware, or (more impressively)plugging-in to a home network and playing MP3 music files or JPEG photos fromstored on a PC on the same network.
Profile 2.0

The second set of specifications which are starting to creepinto the market are Profile 2.0 players. Better know as BD Live, these playersmust be able to connect to the web.
The idea is to slip in a Blu-ray disc,which will invisibly access a website and either stream exclusive content offthe Web to your Blu-ray machine, or download it.
The former requires anEthernet port and for your machine to be connected to the Internet. The latterdemands a hard disk drive on a Blu-ray machine for storing that content.
We’reyet to hear about players with built-in hard disk drives, but several are inthe offing that have SD card slots which should do a similar job. Such playersthat promise BD Live functionality include Marantz’ BD8002 and Panasonic’sDMP-BD50. Specs on both maybe subject to change.
Blu-ray loading times

With Profile 1.1 on the market now, and Profile 1.0 playersstill capable of impressing most of us, there are a lot more important things tothink about when buying a Blu-ray player than the various Profiles.
Buildquality varies enormously, while disc loading times can be frustrating – we’veeven see a disc take over two minutes to load on some machines!
And Profile 3? It doesn’t exist yet, but it’s sure to come.We’re sure that gaming, online shopping and even phone calls will soon becomepossible from a Blu-ray player.
One thing’s for sure: there’s going to be a lotmore to Blu-ray than high-definition movies – but it’s a fine place to start.