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Help me pick a blu-ray player for my TV
February 14, 2010 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose a blu-ray player for my TV... my head is spinning trying to compare features etc. I just want to watch movies! And if possible - also internet TV would be sweet.

We have 6-yr-old a 30" Sony TV "FD Trinatron Wega." The Sony DVD player we bought at the same time is dying and needs replacing.

We mostly watch regular DVDs (from our own library, the public library, and Netflix) and we think they're fine. Even though hi-def isn't high priority for us, I gather that buying a blu-ray player which will play both our regular DVDs as well as blu-ray DVDs (it will, right?) makes sense for "future-proofing."

Also - lately we have been watching old TV shows on Hulu and quite enjoy it. So that the family can all watch together, we've been connecting the laptop to the TV via the s-video cable to watch Hulu.

One child also watches streaming videos via Netflix on the PC (haven't succumbed to their demands to put silverlight on my laptop, but I suppose I will eventually).

Before I buy a blu-ray player, I was wondering - is there a player that could also be used to watch internet TV (Hulu) and / or streaming video (Netflix) on the big TV, rather than dragging the laptop over there and plugging it in via the s-video port? (Because that's now started to give us cable/connector issues.)

If there is such a thing - great. If not - I'll probably go with CNET's 'best buy" recommendation even though the blu-ray reviews are old.

As you may have gathered, ease of use trumps video quality for us.
posted by evilmomlady to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In almost all circumstances, the best answer to "what Blu-ray player should I get?" is "Get a Playstation 3." This is especially the case with respect to future-proofing, due to its regular firmware updates. And the PS3 supports streaming video via Netflix (that is, if you get the disc from Netflix that allows this).

It's dead easy to use--with respect to video quality, your TV will be the weak link in your set-up, not your PS3.
posted by Prospero at 5:49 PM on February 14, 2010


Even if you have zero interest in playing games, is a PS3 still the best choice? What if you want to temporarily store Blu-ray discs or DVDs on a hard drive and watch them later? Can you watch Hulu and YouTube easily on a PS3?
posted by grouse at 5:54 PM on February 14, 2010


If you don't care about hi-def, I wouldn't bother with a blu-ray. It's not future-proofing unless you want the thing that futureness offers. Just get another dvd deck for $50-75. This is doubleplustrue if your current tv doesn't have HDMI in.

If you did get one, I'd get a PS3. They are full of win. Play blurays and all that, stream lots of video and music files over your local network (mkvs need a usually quick and painless repacking), and also play games.

PS3s and some other players do Netflix directly. A PS3 or any connected bluray (or dvd?) player will supposedly play anything on the internet if you buy and install playon on a PC; everything goes over your network so you don't have to plug a computer into the tv.

But mostly in your shoes I just wouldn't bother.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:59 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if you want to temporarily store Blu-ray discs or DVDs on a hard drive and watch them later?

Define store. If you mean "rip to an iso," then no (but ISTR there are freeware server-side solutions for this). If you mean "rip to an xvid or x264," then yes.

Can you watch Hulu and YouTube easily on a PS3?

Apparently, but you also apparently need nonfree server-side software like playon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:03 PM on February 14, 2010


I have been meaning to ask almost the same question as this one. I considered the PS3 and the main issue that I have with it is that it's really expensive. You can get a Blu-Ray Player like this LG for half the price of a PS3. If you don't care about gaming, I'm not sure that the extra $150 is justified.
posted by octothorpe at 6:22 PM on February 14, 2010


Oh, I meant to link to this LG player that does Netflix.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The PS3 does have Flash, and you can watch Youtube with the built-in web browser without any additional software (dunno about Hulu, as I can't access it from my corner of the world). It's not the smoothest or fastest experience (and you definitely want to plug in a USB mouse for navigation), but it works. The PS3 also has some great family games (Buzz!, SingStar etc) as well.
posted by fearthehat at 6:29 PM on February 14, 2010


The PS3 is a great basic DVD player too, for that matter.

One downside: it lacks an IR receiver. The Sony branded remote control works by bluetooth wireless, just like the game controllers, but that makes using universal remotes a no-go without some other steps. Products like the Logitech Harmony adapter get around that limitation, and especially recommended if you use a Harmony remote. (They're great universals.)

PlayOn can stream Hulu and Youtube and other such services. Hulu and the PlayOn software do seem to get into occasional-to-frequent periods of some kind of arms race, where Hulu changes on their end break playback, Playon patches to restore, wash rinse repeat. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can stream their instant-watch catalog through the PS3 natively; currently that requires a special disc in the drive that netflix will send to you free on request--it should be able to do that without disc later on in the year sometime.
posted by Drastic at 6:34 PM on February 14, 2010


Another vote for the PS3, and also to comment that I hear the "needing a disk for netflix on demand" is going away soon, due to a software update.
posted by Joh at 8:57 PM on February 14, 2010


You can get a Blu-Ray Player like this LG for half the price of a PS3. If you don't care about gaming, I'm not sure that the extra $150 is justified.

The primary thing a PS3 would get you in that circumstance is a pretty good but not really stellar media streamer. I gather that there are server-side solutions for some of this, but without assistance a PS3 won't stream dvd isos. And the PS3 can't handle mkv files, but nearly all mkv files can be unpacked and repacked into x264 avis in a few minutes with no transcoding.

Anyway, this is probably our biggest use of the PS3. Download stuff, rip it, whatever, and it just sits on a machine upstairs and gets zapped over wireless to the PS3. The 802.11g is, in our house, good for up to 720p files, but at 720p there's probably going to be a little bit of stuttering once or twice in high-bitrate points. 1080p stuff I just download to the PS3 when we're not using it instead of trying to stream it. I assume that if I ran some cat5 I could stream 1080p.

Is it worth it? Dunno. The extra $150 is marginally less than the current Popcorn Hours, but the Popcorn Hours do more, but having a Popcorn Hour is another thing to plug in and control and work around.

Also you may well find, with a PS3 in the house, that you don't care as little about gaming as you thought. I'd had little interest in console gaming since about 1983, with a few exceptions here and there, but I have to admit that bashing stuff in Lego Star Wars is a fun way to spend a half hour, and sitting down with a stupid fake guitar and playing Rock Band -- AKA "Missile Command synchronized to a soundtrack"-- is a nice way to decompress for ten or twenty minutes. Or three hours.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2010


But again, if I were evilmomlady, I'd just get a new cheap dvd player.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2010


Seconding octothorpe's recommendation of the LG BD370 or BD390.

Playstation 3 sucks as a media player.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2010


Thirding an LG that does Netflix.
posted by intermod at 10:03 PM on February 14, 2010


PS3 is getting 3D capability via a firmware update later this year. If you're thinking of a Blu-Ray player, you want to make sure you've got 3D capability. I don't know which others will have that, but the PS3 definitely will.
posted by smersh at 12:26 AM on February 15, 2010


I just got a PS3, primarily for BluRay (on a 37" LCD HDTV) and I heart it lots and lots. The games are a nice bonus, too!
posted by Alterscape at 7:22 AM on February 15, 2010


Thanks everyone, this was really helpful.

Also you may well find, with a PS3 in the house, that you don't care as little about gaming as you thought.

That's *exactly* what I'm afraid of! Though the arguments for the PS3 are compelling, we've resisted game consoles so far, and hope to go on doing so. (We promised the kids we'd never get one; hate to break a promise to the little ones :-) )

So now I know that I'm looking for a "Network Blu-ray Disc Player" and have decided to get either the LG BD370 or the Sony BDP-N460. Probably Sony, since the TV is Sony. (Initially I wanted wireless, but after thinking about it realized that I can get an ethernet cable to the cabinet without too much trouble.)

The TV has HDMI input so connection should be easy. And by "future-proof" I mean the eventuality that they stop making plain old DVDs and make only Blu-rays. Could happen.

Thanks again. I'll come back and let you know how it went.
posted by evilmomlady at 8:57 AM on February 15, 2010


And by "future-proof" I mean the eventuality that they stop making plain old DVDs and make only Blu-rays. Could happen.

Not for decades if ever, and if it does bluray players will be as dirt cheap as dvd players are now.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:50 PM on February 15, 2010


Also too and as well, it is a virtual certainty that any bluray player you get now will break irreparably long before studios stop offering dvds for sale, so this purchase isn't going to be future-proofing anything.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2010


Got the Sony BDP-N460 (and the HDMI cable, sold separately). Connection - painless (after throwing away a dozen no-longer-needed cables from the old DVD and other components). Plug HDMI to player, other end to TV. Insert ethernet cable in player. Turn it all on. TV displays a registration code to enter on the sony website, and another one to enter on the Netflix site... and we are watching Netflix on the TV. Yay. 11-year-old son is thrilled.

The player promises that my DVDs will look better on the bluray player but I haven't tested that yet.
posted by evilmomlady at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2010


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