AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco - East Bay area
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I've seen about 15 or so Blu-ray players in my system so far ($129 to $3500, from Gen 1 to one that came out in December 2009), and the only time the picture from Blu-ray has ever looked different in any way is if the player has a setting that "messes" with the data on the disc and once that setting is identified and changed so that the player doesn't dink with the data (or at least not as much), the picture returns to so similar to every other BD player that there are essentially no differences.
Another situation in the Blu-ray disc player world is that manufacturers aside from the Japanese giants, simply don't have the resources (engineering and $$$$) to design a Blu-ray disc player from scratch. So there are just a few companies supplying ALL the Blu-ray disc players on the market at any given time. Even some of the giants share components... for example, the first Sony and Pioneer Blu-ray players have identical circuit boards inside - they are moved around a bit, but the drive and circuit boards were all the same (and Pioneer charged $500 more for putting an Ethernet port in a spot that was empty on Sony boards).
The biggest differences in Blu-ray players now is DVD upconversion quality and whether or not the player will play SACD and DVD-Audio. And whether they have analog outputs or not - and if they do have analog outputs, are they stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 - and how comprehensive the menu us for setting up the analog outputs to be used in your system (distances, speaker size, subwoofer settings, etc.).
Bear in mind... it is SIMPLE to fool the human brain when it comes to images. If ACCURACY is the reference, you can't really evaluate a player unless you have a known accurate reference. And that accurate reference means that if there's a player with a picture you like BETTER than the accurate reference, it's very likely you are having a trick played on you by the manufacturer of the player with the "better" picture doing something to make you like the picture better in spite of it being less accurate. I KNOW that the Sony Playstation 3 and Oppo BD-83 are "accurate" Blu-ray players in that they faithfully reproduce what is on the disc (it's not 100% perfect in either case, but very very close). So when someone says the "picture is better" than either of these 2 players, it gets my attention - with skepticism until I've had a chance to investigate myself.
Keep in mind that there is a standard of accuracy for retrieving data from BDs... the bits are right there on the disc - and the video has to be converted from 4:2:0 stored on the disc to 4:2:2 to be transmitted to the display. This conversion process isn't that tricky - but a manufacturer who wanted to mess with your head might cheat a bit during that conversion process and throw in some edge enhancement or other subtle "enhancement" that makes the data less like what was on the disc, but which might lead you to decide that player has a "better" picture.
In the old days of analog it was almost given that each new generation of tape or disc player or video display would produce a better picture in ways that are/were demonstrably better. In digital video - the 1s and 0s can only be accurate or inaccurate and being MORE inaccurate might be misinterpreted as "better" if the inaccuracy was premeditated and well-implemented. It would be kind of cool if we could get a tool with known video data on it and be able to analyze that data for inaccuracies (with software of course) - it would tell you right away who was giving you more accuracy and who was fooling around. It might be possible to have such a tool some day.
"Movies is magic..." Van Dyke Parks
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