Sad to say the VHS era is now history as digital format takes over with devices such as the product forming the focus of this next review
The Samsung BD-H6500 is a Blu-ray player that has a range of built-in features. With its metal shell encased within a lacquered black casing, this multi-function device will not look out of place in a living room as it acts as the central point of a home entertainment system. This stylish looking box has dimensions of 196 x 360 x 40mm (D x W x H).
While desktop and lap systems usually feature an optical drive with burning capabilities, the supported format tends to be of the DVD variety. This next product includes Blu-Ray support.
Whatever others may state, size is important. However it does not really matter what the actual dimensions are as long as they are suitable for the user’s current needs. Currently the IT industry is throwing its not inconsiderable weight (and that is another issue that needs to be taken into consideration) behind mobility and the associated subject of miniaturisation.
A basic Blu-ray player did just that and played Blu-ray and DVDs and possibly also CDs. Now this offering from Samsung can update any TV that has an HDMI port to connect to the Internet and also connect to iPlayer and ITV Player etc.
The Samsung BD-F7500 blu-ray player measures 31x21x4cm. It is described as a Ultra viewing unit with 4K upscaling. Don’t be put off by that if like 99.9% of the country you only have a TV capable of 1920x1080 it works fine and even the 3D works (three display choices). I note that some other units do not support all of iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 but this product does. My own TV has the ability to connect via Ethernet but where it is means a very long cable.
Developed as different and competing formats, Blu-ray and DVD discs can now be played on the same device such as this next product which adds some extra features.
Opening the product’s box reveals the main player unit with a permanently attached power lead, remote control, two AAA batteries and various items of documentation including a printed User Manual. Coated with a highly polished lacquered black sheen, the player unit goes for a slim-line look with dimensions of 360 x 40 x 196mm (W x H x D) and a single rounded corner to add a touch of style.
This is a Blu-ray player and a sound system, Pioneer call it the BCS-SB626. The Blu-ray has some extra features including 3D. The 2.1 system includes a meaty sub woofer and a sound bar to sit in front of your TV.
While I suspect that you could put a sound bar and a Blu-ray combination together for a smaller part of the price I doubt that the sound quality would be as good. Often people rave about large cinema systems and if you have the room and can hide the multitude of cables then you can have a similar experience to that of a cinema. While TV has improved out of all proportion to even say ten years ago a sound bar offers much more, link it with a sub woofer and you are getting something even more.
Blu-ray movies always seem to carry a premium over the normal DVD version, so making the leap means first a new player and then to get the best from it, buying Blu-ray movies, Sony here offer a starter pack of a Blu-ray unit with eight Blu-ray movies.
Not content with offering a neat - small - unit Sony get it to perform a range of extras with the BDP S185 such as playing music and viewing Internet via Ethernet, this latter option also gets more features for some movies, however it stubbornly refuses to make the tea, do the hovering, or, even the ironing. It is 29x18.5x3cm however you will need around another 3.5cm to the middle figure the depth if placing on a shelf to allow for cable connections.
Often having a Blu-ray drive in a notebook or PC makes it a high price purchase and buying an external unit can be cheaper. I recently purchased a new PC and it came just with a DVD multi drive, add this Plextor unit and its complete.
The Plextor PX-B120U blu-ray player measures 19x16x3.5cm the first figure the depth, includes the USB inserted this adds 2.5cm to the total depth of the unit. The actual drive connection was just a matter of connecting the supplied USB lead to the drive and then to the PC, I used both USB2 and USB3 ports both worked without problem although when copying files from the drive the latter was of course quicker, in my various tests maybe three times as fast overall with a mix of file sizes.
On occasions a product can be rather shy when it comes to proclaiming aspects of its functionality from the user. This type of situation is definitely not the case with a new external drive from Plextor. The PX-LB950UE may give little away with its title but it is far more forthcoming with its appearance.
With dimensions of 163 x 51.5 x 224.7mm, this product is a 12X Blu-ray Disk Writer. It combines a lacquered black (just right for collecting fingerprints from all and sundry) body with a large blue logo on the top panel. If the presence of this logo was not enough indication to get the message across, Plextor has already placed the words “Blu-ray Disc” written large and in the same shade of blue beneath the logo.
As file sizes increase in size, so the media developed to store these files have increased in capacity accordingly. Blu-ray now holds the mantle of providing storage for those requiring even more space on which to store their media.
While various desktop and notebook computers now come with a Blu-ray drive as part of their standard feature set, these systems are still outnumbered by the majority of products that feature a DVD drive for optical media use. Plus there is a vast reservoir of legacy machines in regular use that do not have a built-in Blu-ray drive for playing movies and backing up important data.
Blu-ray players used to be rather expensive. Now a unit costs less than its predecessor and has more functions. So smaller neater cheaper and more functionality seems to be the way to go with the latest model from Sony.
Sony Blu-ray BDP-S370 is 43x23x3cm and weights only 1850grams with the hard wired 1.5metre long mains lead included in the weight. The rear of the unit has mains lead entry point, Ethernet port, Audio and Video out, Component out, HDMI, Coaxial, Optical and USB. The sides top and base are free of sockets while the front has another USB socket on a 1cm shelf protruding just four buttons, on the left on/off, in the centre open, play and stop. Not quite enough to control the unit.
A telephone call alerted me to the possibility of being one of the first to check out a new Blu-ray drive from Buffalo.
With more and more companies providing support for Blu-ray technology, it is perhaps time to consider adding a Blu-ray drive to your computer system. You could, of course, opt to just add a drive with read capability but why stop there when there is the greater storage capacity available with Blu-ray burning calling out to you. Maybe a drive with read/write features would be more appropriate. One solution could be the Buffalo Blu-ray product.
When I requested this it was the only Blu-ray recorder for use with a TV, as far as I know it still is. However it also has dual Freesat receivers built in as well as a hard disc and it is even possible to transfer items via SCART from another PVR.
My first task was to get items from my PVR onto the hard disc of the Panasonic unit (real time) and then transfer them (real time) to a Blu-ray disc. The second part allows several items to be transferred at a time so I used to move six to eight hours of recordings in a single day while working elsewhere. You can even do it while watching something else on the TV. The unit is long and thin at 42x30x5cm.
Continuing my report on the recent Panasonic event brings news of some Lumix digital cameras, camcorders, Blu-ray devices and a product to capture your own 3D content.
Following on from my earlier Panasonic report that featured televisions and the company’s push towards 3D content, it seems appropriate to begin with another product belonging to the company’s 3D family. Panasonic has developed the world’s first professional, fully integrated Full HD 3D camcorder. The lenses, camera head and the dual Memory Card recorder are all built into a single lightweight body.
Having recently looked at a LG offering that had Ethernet options, I now see the latest Sony offering the BDP-S360 that also allows Ethernet to play a part. However first and foremost it is a rather nice full featured Blu-ray player.
The BDP-S360 measures 43x22x5.5cm and weights less than two kilos. It is matt black with the exception of the drop down front and top front edge that are both shiny black plastic that of course shows every finger mark. Somewhat surprisingly you do have to visit the unit not only to insert and remove DVD’s or Blu-ray discs but also to open the door to insert and remove as much to my surprise there is no open/close button on the remote control.
With all the Blu-ray drives I have reviewed somewhere I have mentioned that Blu-ray is not only about picture quality but Dolby sound as well. Here not only do you get the Blu-ray player but also a rather nice set of speakers.
It is 43x30x7cm with cables inserted. It weights just under 5kilos. All but the front is matt black; the front is shiny black and electric blue. The left side of the front is where the drawer for inserting discs is, Blu-ray, DVD and even CD’s. The central area has a pop out iPod holder and the right side has six illuminated (when on) buttons and a large volume control knob. The sides, top and base have nothing leaving a very full back of connections. The left side has the hard wired 1.
I always enjoy reviewing a Blu-ray player, one because I do not own one but do have several Blu-ray discs including several that will not play in a PC with a Blu-ray player, even experts do not know why and two its an excuse to watch Blu-ray movies.
Half way through the review period I got a new TV in for review from Sony (review in a couple of weeks) so this has been tested not only with my 32inch TV but a brand new 40inch Bravia as well. In a short space of time The Blu-ray player has developed a lot and indeed I hear that stand alone recorders are soon to hit the shops. There are of course a number of stand alone Blu-ray player/recorders available for the PC but they need a powerful PC to run them.
This is the second Blu-ray drive notebook from Asus that I have reviewed recently. Outwardly it seems to have everything you could want providing you have transport to ferry it about as the weight of just over 3kilos might make public transport a chore.
It is 36x28.5x4cm the depth is a maximum at the back and it is .5cm less at the front. The exact weight is 3.070 kilos. The front has headset and microphone sockets front and centre along with an E-Sata slot. The right side has the multi DVD drive (including Blu-ray) a single USB port and Kensington lock socket. The rear has nothing as the edge of the screen ducks under the back so this area needs to be clear.
This is the second notebook I have seen recently that has a Blu-ray drive. The drive itself is not that special but its the power needed in the notebook to drive it so you can watch the latest movies with the special Dolby sound quality and therefore the speakers provided are.
The Acer Aspire 6935G measures 38x27x4cm and weights 3.2Kg. It measures 28cm from front to back with the lid open this may sound strange but the hinge opens behind the rear of the unit. The left hinge is where the power plug goes in – novel – in front of this is the modem port (anyone still use dial up?) VGA port, Ethernet port, E-SATA and HDMI along with three audio ports complete the left side. Under the front edge is a card port.
This Blu-ray player was the one I used with the recently reviewed Samsung Series 6 Full HD LE32A656 however any full HD TV should allow you to see the full glory of Blu-ray. To hear the full cinema sound quality you will need a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system.
The Samsung BD-P1500 is 43x31x6.5cm with leads inserted in the rear. It has matt black top and sides with grey back and base, the front is shiny black. The following connections are on the back a hard wired (1.35metre) power lead, HDMI out socket, USB socket, Ethernet socket, Optical out and a set of six Component Out and A/V out.
Video projectors are not new although they have only recently started started to appeal as
an option for those (with the room) that want the full cinema experience in their own home. With
the advent of high-definition, new projectors are required, spurring Sony to announce the VPL-HW10.
Whether you're a fan of the high-definition broadcast systems now on offer or have hailed the end of yet another format war and opted for a Blu-Ray DVD player there's just one problem... All the components are there - all the technology you need to create your own cinema. But how do you get the effect of a huge screen in your home? Well, the answer is to get a huge screen.