Not blue about Blu-ray

January 18, 2010

The revamp of my home theater started last year when I replaced my Sony rear-projection set with a Samsung 52″ LCD (more on this later). While the Samsung was a huge upgrade, I was not exploiting its potential with the sources I had. Introducing a Blu-ray player was the best way to realize that potential. Endless research then ensued to find the right player.

I had narrowed it down to two players: the Samsung BD-P3600 and the Panasonic BD80. I needed a player that had analog outputs since my receiver could not handle HDMI. The problem was that folks kept complaining about a high failure rate on the Samsungs and firmware problems with the Panasonic.  I finally settled on a Pioneer BDP-320, which had a similar price point. While it did not have all of the streaming and Internet connectivity features of the Samsung or Panasonic, it did a really great job of playing both Blu-ray and DVD discs. It’s interesting that most of the companies seemed to be more focused on marketing the video streaming services of their players instead of the fact that the Blu-ray is currently the BEST audio and video source.

I also thought about the Playstation 3.  Once again, having the older receiver not having HDMI precluded the PS3.  Unfortunately, the PS3 does not have analog outputs and you need to use an optical audio cable or regular RCA cables.  When you do this, you don’t get the best sound  (mind you what you get is still good).  Blu-ray disks present audio using Dolby TrueHD which provides the best sound possible and you need HDMI or the full set of surround analog outputs.  I will do another post on Dolby TrueHD but one of the reasons for the format’s superiority is that the format is “lossless”.

So far so good with the Pioneer. When I opened it during the holidays, I immediately upgraded the firmware and enjoyed a viewing of the new Star Trek flick. Now the big decision is what Blu-ray disks to buy!

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