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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Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 06:02.
$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.
Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 06:02.
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 09:03. 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)
Scott"When will the rhetorical questions end?!" - George Carlin
OK, so from what I am hearing, everybody is moving away from the DVD players to play media files on their TVs ... and I am fine with that.
I just got an HD TV (finally), and though it is reasonably small (32") it is nicer than anything I've had before.
If worse came to worse, I could just run an HDMI cable from my laptop to the TV, and let the laptop provide the files, but I'd really like to be using it for separate things.
So I am more than willing to consider a media player ... I just don't have any idea what I am looking for.
I glanced at Roku and Fire, but they seem to be more for Hulu and Netflix and streaming media, rather than media files.
Jagabo and Chopmeister seem to recommend WDTV models, but I don't know enough yet to know what to look for.
What I would most like to get is something that will let me play media files. And I mentioned things like SVCD and such just as an example of the progression of what some devices could play. At least 90% of my stuff is xvid with small percentages of divx, mp4, and mvk. Almost nothing older than that.
So I would like something that can play from either a data dvd, or perhaps a memory stick, USB drive, or memory card ... though it -also- having the ability to stream from amazon live or netflix type of sources would be a nice bonus. Just saying ....
And I'd like to keep the expense low. I don't need a lot of fancy stuff, and I am more than willing to hold off on playing blu ray until some day when I might break down and buy a cheap blu ray player. Understanding exactly what I want to use them for, can anybody recommend two or three exact models of things to look at, to try and figure out what would meet my needs?
So far my experience has been with 2 blu-ray players. My first one was the LG BP-125. It played everything but DVIX. It played from a 1TB external HD plugged into the USB port on the front. It played AVI, MP4, and MKV video & AAC, AC3 & MP3 audio. I now have a new Sony BDP-S1200 and so far it has also played all the same formats as the LG, also from the USB port. The only difference I can see between the two is that the upscaling on the LG looked better then on the Sony. Both have played the few blu-ray discs I have without any problems.
The Lg is no longer available, but I think it has been replaced by the LG BP-135, which I understand will play everything that the 125 played.
However, it can also stream your media files from your main computer as well if you have a decent wireless router. You install Plex Media Server (free) on your computer, and the Plex "channel" on the Roku. Plex channel entails a one time charge, or better, install the nearly identical and free RARFlix channel.
I find the above to be very convenient, as there are many TBs of media files on my HTPC, and using Plex we can stream in other locations in the house (we have 3 Rokus). Even my techno-phobe wife likes that setup.
All our Rokus are Roku 2s. I think you can directly connect a powered external hard drive (via USB) to a Roku 3, but I'm not sure what formats are supported.Pull! Bang! Darn!
The WDTV series can play most common containers and codecs (including Divx, Xvid, h.264, MP2, MP3, AC3, AAC in AVI, MP4, MKV, M2TS, TS, etc.) from USB devices and network shares. They have some online streaming ability but not as much as Roku. We have several TB of video files on a NAS. The WDTV gen 2, an LG BD670 Blu-ray player, and all the other computers in the house can browse those shares and play files from it. The BD670 isn't quite as robust as the WDTV but plays most of the same files.
Regarding Divx/Xvid, the WDTV can handle most of those encoders' features including packed/unpacked bitstream, QPEL, and Divx's single warp point GMC. It chokes on Xvid's 3 warp point GMC (playback gets jerky and the picture may get corrupted) which is rarely used -- I'm not aware of any standalone player that can handle 3 warp point GMC..
The WDTV can play 1080p encoded within Blu-ray specs (24 to 30 fps) and beyond. It can play some 1080p 60 fps videos but not all.
The WDTV Live gen 2 consumes about 5 watts when sleeping, 10 watts when playing HD video. It takes about 5 seconds to wake from the sleeping state. 20 seconds to boot if you've remove power (as with all devices that respond to power up from a remote control, it's never really "off" unless you unplug it).
Thank you all, very much.
Poking around the information out there, and with the information and suggestions provided here, I expect I will probably go with the WDTV as doing most of what I want in the simplest way possible.
Again, thank you!