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A Look at the Latest Blu-ray Disc Players on Display at CES 2013

January 09, 2013 - 1:51 pm   |   By 

With this year’s Consumer Electronics Show now in full swing in Las Vegas, savvy early adopters and home entertainment consumers are getting their first look at lots of hot new gadgets coming in 2013. As usual, among these offerings are new Blu-ray player models from all the major CE companies.  But whereas in past years these players have introduced significant new capabilities or features, this year’s offerings tend to focus on dramatic styling, smaller footprints and incremental improvements in speed, connectivity and A/V quality, including 4K “upscaling” and built-in 2D to 3D conversion.

Sony has planned four new models for 2013, including the BDP-S5100, the BDP-S4100, the BDP-S3100 and the BDP-S1100.  All feature sharply angled lines, integration with the Sony Entertainment Network, Quick Start disc loading, access to Netflix, LOVEFiLM and Internet browsing, and support for TV SideView which allows the devices to be controlled by an Android or Apple iOS app.  The BDP-S5100 and BDP-S3100 will include built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, while the other two are Wi-Fi ready.  The BDP-S5100 is also Blu-ray 3D compatible and will offer built-in 2D to 3D conversation.  Sony’s new players are expected to start arriving on store shelves next month.

Sony BDP-S5100

Panasonic also has four new Blu-ray models on the way for 2013, available starting in February.  Again, the styling tends towards the angular.  All will feature Panasonic’s VIERA Connect integration.  Both the DMP-BDT330 and DMP-BDT230 will be Blu-ray 3D compatible, have built-in Wi-Fi and offer Display Mirroring which allows them to display media content from select Android devices, including tablets and smartphones.  The flagship model, DMP-BDT330, will also offer 4K upscaling for use with the company’s new lineup of 4K TVs.  Both of the lower-end models – DMP-BD89 and DMP-BD79 – are compatible with regular 2D Blu-ray titles only, though the DMP-BD89 does include built-in Wi-Fi.

Panasonic DMP-BDT330

Samsung’s primary BD offering at CES is a new flagship model, the BD-F7500 Smart Blu-ray player, which was awarded a 2013 CES Innovation Award at the show.  It offers a dual-core processor and Samsung’s Smart TV compatibility, including Smart Hub and AllShare.  It’s also designed to upscale SD and HD content into simulated 4K for viewing on the company’s announced line of 4K displays.

Samsung BD-F7500

Two of LG’s three new Blu-ray player offerings include a rather surprising new feature – the ability to listen to your movies in a “private sound mode” via Bluetooth through a smartphone app.  In addition, the BD730 offers 4K upscaling, Smart TV integration, Blu-ray 3D compatibility and 2D to 3D conversion.  The mid-range BP530 is also a Blu-ray 3D compatible model and features Smart TV integration.  The BDP330 is Samsung’s entry-level model, though interestingly all three players feature built-in Wi-Fi.

Toshiba seems to have shifted their focus to media streaming with this year’s offerings at CES, which perhaps isn’t surprising as they’ve never been particularly enthusiastic BD format supporters.  They have four new models on display at the show, all of which are being billed as “Media Boxes” that just happen to feature Blu-ray playback as well.  The line-up includes the BDX6400, BDX5400, BDX3400 and BDX2400, all of which have “server access” designed to allow the units to drive digital media content streaming.  The 6400, 5400 and 3400 also have built-in Wi-Fi and Toshiba Miracast support.  In addition, the 6400 and 5400 are Blu-ray 3D compatible, while the BDX6400 alone features built-in 4K upscaling.

Pioneer’s offerings at CES this year are focused in other areas than Blu-ray, including in-dash car navigation and AppRadio.  They do have one fairly recent addition to their Blu-ray line however – the BDP-150.  It features Blu-ray 3D compatibility, fast disc loading and Wi-Fi ready connectivity to online streaming movie content services.  It debuted in Q4 of 2012 and is now available for $149.

Finally, enthusiast-favorite OPPO Digital has launched their latest entries in the BD player market – the BDP-103 and the BDP-105. Both are Blu-ray 3D compatible, will convert 2D content to 3D and will upscale native HD content to 4K.  For audio fans, both models continue to offer high-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio disc compatibility.  Both include dual HDMI inputs as well, allowing you to connect external set-top boxes and network streaming players.  To all of this, the BDP-105 adds a number of additional refinements specifically meant to enhance the experience of audiophiles, including more rugged construction and engineering, reference-quality Audio DACs, a toroidal power supply and even a dedicated stereo output with XLR balanced connectors.  Both models are now available.  The BDP-103 sells for $499 while the audiophile BDP-105 will set you back a whopping $1,199.

OPPO BDP-105

I’ll be back tomorrow to wrap-up our CES 2013 coverage with some thoughts on the newly-announced 4K Ultra HD displays, developments in autostereoscopic 3D and all the latest home video industry sales stats from 2012 via the DEG.  Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

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