Haven't been around for three or four years. I can remember when nothing could play anything but DVD format, then VCD, SVCD, divx, and xvid started creeping in ... first on more expensive units that made a big deal of what they could play, then on cheap models like the Philips 642.
So where are we now? Has the progressive path continued, with more players able to handle more and more formats? Can some of the cheap players now handle many versions of .mp4 or windows meta formats?
What's the highly recommended, yet cheap suggestion these days?
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Today's good players are good. The better players are better. The really pricey stuff is, for the most part, mostly excellent and, in some cases, just overpriced period.
The cheap stuff that was junk four years ago does handle a few more formats today. But it's still junk. Whatever they played 4 years ago looked like crap, and they look like crap today.
Cambridge Audio Azur
Panasonic (midstream and up)
That should be plenty of choices to read about in the better price brackets. Anything else is a step down in either quality or reliability or both. And you should always avoid the bottom-of-the-line in any brand name. As for the cheapies, they haven't improved.
Last edited by sanlyn; 16th Feb 2014 at 22:53.Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
$70 Philips or $500 Oppo - decisions, decisions.
Forget plastic discs. Use a media player like the Western Digital WDTV series. Though the better LG Blu-ray players do fairly well playing media files off discs, USB devices, or network shares.
Exactly. I still use plastic discs, but mainly for archiving or as an intermediate step when I move material off my DVD recorder. Any discs I buy/record pretty much get ripped straight to my NAS where they are searchable (by title) and streamable across the network to any of my TVs, tablet or phone. I can't imagine that I would want to use a DVD player to play a divx, MP4 or MKV etc. WD units are much more flexible and compatible (and no cinavia etc to contend with).
Other than playing the odd blu-ray (in a region-free unit) I almost never play a plastic disc directly any more.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
As was already mentioned, media players are superior to Blu-Ray players for playing media files, being immune to Cinavia protection, as well as playing a wider variety of containers and formats. For example, most Blu-Ray players play XVid but not DivX. if you have DivX files, you may have to change the extension to AVI and the FourCC ID to XVid to play them.
That being said, if your needs are limited, an inexpensive player may meet them just fine. I bought an LG Blu-Ray player for my parents about 15 months ago, and it does fine playing DVDs or Blu-Ray discs, and my HDTV captures as media files from USB devices. It can play files via a wired Internet connection too, although I never tried it.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 17th Feb 2014 at 10:03. Reason: grammar
Better option for playing (S)/VCDs on a settop is buying a still-decent-quality $20 DVD/VCD player at a pawn shop, garage sale, flea market, or Goodwill store. I got one just 2 months ago - works great those very few times I actually want to play a deprecated format on my main TV (using a CE box).
For SACDs and DVD-As, it's best to do some research. Those would be few & far between as catches in those places I just mentioned. However, you can still get an older-model PS3 (a version that supports SACD in hardware) for ~$150 if you look carefully enough. I'm sure there are other bargains like that out there. eBay is good for this.
However, if your priority is VARIETY of acceptable formats, and ALL IN ONE unit, you best bet is (in order):
2. Generic Media Player (WD, Roku, etc)
3. High-end universal Disc player (Oppo, Denon, etc)