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There's been a bit of a race to the bottom in the Blu-ray market, with every manufacturer trying to get as much quality as they can as cheap as they can. It's great for spendthrift consumers, but it does mean the selection between the $300 and $1,000 range is a bit limited. Regardless, we've pulled together the ones worth looking at, including one player you might not have even thought of.
Onkyo BD-SP 808
Onkyo's 808 was released just last a few months ago and it's been very well received. At an MSRP of $599, the BD-SP 808 packs design features only found on ultra-high-end players just a few years ago. In addition to everything on the inside, it boasts a rigid chassis and a center mounted drive drastically lower interference from vibrations.
The BD-SP 808 is THX certified which is almost certainly thanks to the Marvell Qdeo video chip that handles video processing and scaling of less than HD content. Unlike a lot of players in the price range, the Onkyo 808 also offers access to streaming services like Netflix, Blockbuster on Demand and Roxio CinemaNow. You'll find the BD-SP 808 for an MSRP of $599.
Yamaha launched its Aventage line earlier this year, promising a complete redesign from the ground up. The 3D ready BD-A1000 is the first Blu-ray player in the line and it definitely earns the privilege. At $699, it streams from a variety of online sources including Netflix and Blockbuster on Demand but specializes in the playback of physical media.
The A1000 isn't just a Blu-ray player – it's a universal player. That means it will let you play back all those SACDs and DVD-Audio discs you've got lying around in addition to your more traditional CDs and DVDs. It boasts Control4 certification, and supports RC-232C control for those that want to get fancy and offers a simple setup wizard for those that don't.
This is the only player on our list that you'll have to track down, but if you do it will be well worth it. It's also an entry level player, bridging the gap between low-end and high-end. It's been the darling of Blu-ray enthusiasts since launch, but with a replacement on the horizon, the BDP-83 is getting harder to find.
It may not have all the features – internet streaming, 3D capability - of the upcoming BDP-93, but the 83 has a definite advantage in that it's available now. It's an amazing player that packs VRS Anchor Bay video processing for the best picture you're going to see on a player at this price.
Here's one that's a little out of the box, but definitely a contender for those that like to travel. The Samsung BD-C8000 is a portable Blu-ray player with a 10.3 inch screen, built-in WiFi and the ability to access Internet@TV. That means you can watch your Blu-rays and stream from Netflix while you're on the go. Sound pretty good? It gets better.
When you've arrived at your destination, you can plug it in and use it as a 3D Blu-ray player. That's right, the BD-C8000 is the first portable 3D Blu-ray player and it's selling at an MSRP of $499. Sadly, the C8000 can't do 3D without plugging in to an external display, but if you're the type that travels a lot, the BD-C8000 will kill two birds with one stone.