Well, now it is time for me to go back to SQUARE ONE, back to the drawing board and rethink my priorities on what I want.
Originally, I wanted a BD player that could bitstream and do great DVD upscalling. I tried these:
Sony S300/S500 - horribly sloooooow, and as so long ago, can't remember if they could bitstream DTS HDMA or not, but they were slooooooow! Returned both.
Panasonic BD30 - nice, liked it a lot. As it would bitstream everything (yipeeee), I didn't have the LFE problem, the BD looked great, had a good info screen (sort of important to me, got spoiled by the PS3 one), but DVD was not so good. Returned it also because the BD50 was coming with BD LIVE.
Samsung 2550 - was ok with BD and could bitstream, poor info screen though, very good DVD upscale, but sort of clunky, and had weird problems with Resident Evil Apocolypse with screen corruption. As I also had the Sony S350 (see next), which I liked much better, was cheaper, did not care for the quality of the Samsung unit (it feels cheap, even the remote!!!), and honestly could not tell the DVD PQ being all that much different between the two, I returrned it.
Sony S350 - I liked this one a lot, and thought it was going to be a keeper. But when I heard about the price drop, decided to return it and get it later (maybe). Had good BD PQ, excellent (near PS3 ammount) info screen, could bitstream, pretty fast loading (though the 2550 was a touch faster, but perhaps why it had screen corruption - on how it was pre-loading?), and seemed to have a pretty good DVD PQ. But I have heard others say it is soft, and the new S550 will have a different chip in it (S350 is NEC, S550 is Sigma). So I returned it to maybe get it later after the price drop, or get the S550 which *should* be even better (???) with DVD PQ.
Then I went a WEIRD route . . . . started to try out dual format players:
LG BH200 - I had heard this was a quality player, and being a dual format, just this one player could do EVERYTHING, so I could remove 3 players off my rack for just this one (and sell the others - PS3, Tosh A35, and old Pio 59AVi). Well, I DID fall in love with this player. Everything about it says it was very good quality (cost $1000 when they first came out). Great looking box, not very heavy, not loud, never got hot, EXCELLENT eye candy and nifty bells & whistles, awesome PQ in HD, BD, and WOW PQ in DVD (I think the QDEO in the BH200 was supperior to the Reon in the Samsung!). It could bitstream, load times were quite fast (BUT AFTER the initial internal loading time it would take to determine what disc it was - HD or BD or DVD or CD), everything was GREAT about this player, except!!! When I was using my Onkyo 805 everything would be ok through bitstream, though would get an occasional HDMI audio handshaking problem with some HD DVD DD+ movies during pause/play/chapter changes (805 would show it was getting a stereo signal instead of DD+ and play loud modulating static from all my speakers). But when I bought a new Pioneer SC-05 AVR, all movies (BD & HD) except for normal DVD's had the "stereo" signal problem
Replies back from both LG and Pioneer made it feel like this problem would not be looked into. From further research, it is NOT the Pio's problem, but LG's as it appears the HDMI audio handshaking may have been broken in their last FW update. Also, there was no 100% positive feedback whether this would ever get a BD Live capable FW update. So I returned it, SADLY. This was one very high quality player!!!!!
Samsung 5000 - after going back to the PS3 again, I did more research, and wanted to go back and find another BH200 to try it again, and this time REALLY try to make it work. But, the only 2 available now in my local area BB were two totally TRASHED open box ones. So I ended up finding a good deal on this Samsung dual format 5000 with HQV in it. In one word - RETURN! This may have been Samsung's direct competition to the LG BH200, but it loses hands down to the LG in every checklist and quality of build. It is clunky, it is slow (menu in HD DVD Transformers takes near 45 seconds to jerkily slide up - on the Tosh A35 it smoothly glides up!), cheap remote (near same as my old Samsung DVD/VCR combo recorder), DVD menu is slow though the PQ is very good (but still the LG QDEO is better I think!!!), same poor info screen as the 2550, has slow DVD layer changes (watching LOTR2), and no one also knows if it will ever get BD Live support. So back it goes shortly.
***** Also of note!!!!!!! Both Samsung 5000 and 2550 have NO settings to get 4:3 DVD to play right. They come stretched out on the screen. The LG BH200 also does the same, but there is still hope that might get fixed, as the new LG BD300 appears to share some common elements that would make a new FW update for the BH200 a posibility
So that brings me to now. What to do? Well, if I can never find another BH200 to try and get it to work right with my new SC-05 AVR again, then I have to re-think my priorities. For HD DVD I will now go back to using the Tosh A35 which workd great anyway for HD DVD, and it does a pretty good job at DVD upscalling (and plays the 4:3 perfectly without needing to change any settings!). So what to do with choosing the next BD player??? My choices are:
LG BD300 - can't argue with getting NetFlix streaming movies, as I am already a subscriber! Should have just as excellent BD PQ and AQ as the BH200, but as there has been no mention of QDEO in it, not sure how DVD upscaling would be with it. But can always fall back to the A35 for that, and enjoy the added feature of the NetFlix online with this!!!! The BH200 had a fair info screen, hope this one would have a better one though?
Sony S550 - WILL the new "Cinema" chip in this really be different, better than the S350? Will it upscale DVD better? Should have similar, if not better info screen to the S350, which is near as good as the PS3 one.
Panasonic BD35 - no need for the more expensice BD55 for me, as I have HDMI 1.3a AVR and don't need analog. But will the UniPhier chip really be THAT improved over the BD30/50 for DVD upscalling? The older one was considered too soft for many. The BD30 had a decent info screen, should be the same or better on this one.
So, which one will it be? And NO! The PS3 is not an option. I will be selling it as soon as I find which one of the three up above will be on my rack. I have a 360 for consule games, but prefer playing most games on my computer. So the PS3 was only used for BD movies. And though the new Pioneer SC-05 breathed new life into the sound quality of LPCM coming out of the PS3, it still sounds better to me hearing the actual bitstreamed out DTS HDMA soundtrack!!!!!! Testing the movie Rambo (the latest one) with the PS3 (LPCM), Samsung 5000 and LG BH200 (bitstream), there was just a touch more "surround" feel to the bitstream signal, and it was also a touch crisper in detail, and the PS3 LPCM seems just a wee bit muffled *TO MY EARS*.