In 2011 we are seeing a trend that started to emerge a couple of years ago. And that is consumers moving away from traditional physical media to online streaming digital content. This may signal bad news for the Blu-ray format. But instead of fighting the trend, most Blu-ray Players have embraced it. Making Blu-ray Players just as much about online streaming media services as it is about playing high-definition discs.
Online Streaming and networking ability has quickly become one of the key factors in making up a good Blu-ray Player. Almost every player manufactured today is Profile 2.0, meaning it can connect to the internet, either through an Ethernet Port or via a wireless connection. Although streaming services, such as Netflix, offer content output at 1080p; the actually image quality is no where near that of Blu-ray discs. But no one can argue the convenience factor of streaming content. And with Neflix available on most models, even the ones listed under $100.00, it is almost worth getting a new player just because of online streaming.
However, every manufacturer has their own set of online services and their own user interface to access them. The four major ones are from Samsung Smart Hub, LG Smart TV, Panasonic Viera Cast and Sony Bravia Internet Video. It can get a little confusing to know what streaming services are offered from each manufacturer. The chart below is a guide to help you distinguish between easy Blu-ray content portal. These are by no means the only services offered, but they are the main or the most important ones consumers use the most.
The other key factor when it comes to online services is how easy the user interface is to use. While most players will offer similar services, you will want to look at how easy it is to use each interface. Right now, most experts agree that Panasonic’s Viera Cast and LG’s Smart TV are the two clear favorites for their simple interface which is easy and quick to use.
If you are looking for as much online content as possible, the Sony’s Bravia Internet Video would be the choose for you. It has a wider array of services than any of its competitors such as Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant. The downside to this, is that Sony’s interface is the hardest to use of all the players. Samsung also, has quite a few streaming services and a better user interface. But it is no where near as easy to use as Panasonic’s Viera Cast and LG Smart TV.
Bedside Online Streaming Media Services, another factor to consider when looking for a good Blu-ray Player is DLNA capability. Like Online Streaming, most of today’s player have this feature; but not all. And the functionality of this feature can vary from player to player. For example, DLNA capability means that the player will allow you to streaming content from other DLNA devices, like your computer, so you can view the content on your TV screen. This content can be music, videos or pictures. But how DLNA is implemented and what types of content can be stream will vary from each player. Therefore, a good Blu-ray Player will be DLNA Certified, you just have to do a little research to find out how it functions on each player.
Lastly, you will want to know if the Blu-ray Player has wireless capability. Most Blu-ray Players will be use in the consumers living rooms, where an Ethernet cable is not always readily available. So finding a player with built-in WI-FI would definitely be worth the effort. Some players will offer you the option of connecting a wireless LAN Adapter or “Dongle” to achieve a wireless connection. While this is great, it usually comes at an extra cost. If having a wireless connection is important to you, you are better off purchasing a player with built-in wireless capability; it will save you some money.