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CNET overhauls its Blu-ray player reviews

CNET Reviews has overhauled its Blu-ray testing for 2010 by adding inline charts, more systematic image quality tests and a detailed spreadsheet for easy comparison.

CNET's Blu-ray player AV rack.
CNET's Blu-ray player AV rack. Sarah Tew/CNET

Every year, before the deluge of new products begins, CNET editors have a chance to revisit testing guidelines and procedures for their product categories. Usually the changes are gradual, but in the case of Blu-ray we saw plenty of opportunities to improve on our coverage of the category.

For 2010, we're aiming to make Blu-ray testing more systematic and objective, while also making it easier to compare the models available on the market. To do this, we recently rolled out two new features: a new spreadsheet that makes it easier to compare all the testing we do and a complete revision of our Blu-ray testing procedure.

Link to the full spreadsheet

We've always kept a master spreadsheet of Blu-ray products we review for our own purposes, but this year we cleaned it up for public consumption. Our best Blu-ray players list and the individual reviews are still the best way for the average reader to make a buying choice, but if you're a home theater enthusiast interested in the nitty-gritty details, the chart gives you a detailed look at all the testing we conduct on each player. (We use this spreadsheet to track all our testing, so occasionally there will be testing data available for players before a full review goes up, as there is now.)

Our new Blu-ray testing procedure can be seen in full on the new "How we test Blu-ray players" page. Some highlights of the new testing procedure include:

  • Inline charts: We've created charts that summarize the most important features for Blu-ray players, making it easier to see exactly what a player does and doesn't have. We'll still add our editorial comments about how a player compares with competitors, but we'll spend less time writing about the basic facts.
  • CNET's speed rating: A composite score determined by six operational speed tests CNET conducts on every Blu-ray player. The score is normalized against last year's speed champ, the Oppo BDP-83, which has a score of 100.
  • More standardized image quality tests: CNET's always conducted in-depth image quality tests on every Blu-ray player we review, but for 2010 we've made several changes to improve our testing and make it more transparent. With the inline charts and comparison spreadsheet, it should be easier than ever to see the image quality differences (or lack thereof) between players.
  • Power consumption testing: Blu-ray players don't use nearly as much power as HDTVs and desktop computers, but it's still useful to know how much juice your new player will use. Our tests also let you know how much power your Blu-ray player's quick-start mode ends up costing you over a year.

And if you're looking to see the new reviews format in action, check out our recent review of the LG BD570. More Blu-ray reviews using the format will be coming soon.

Comments or suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

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