When you opt for a budget product rather than a name brand, it usually means you're looking for "good enough" instead of perfect. The Insignia NS-2BRDVD, from one of Best Buy's in-house suppliers, is a classic example of the former. The Blu-ray player lacks step-up features (such as Profile 2.0 compatibility and full high-resolution soundtrack decoding) and speedy, glitch-free performance seen on top players like the Samung BD-P2500 and Sony BDP-S550. At the same time, those flaws aren't enough to spoil the NS-2BRDVD's main draw, which is that it plays Blu-ray Discs competently for only $230. If you're cash-strapped and just need basic Blu-ray playback, the Insignia NS-2BRDVD fits the bill, but be sure to check out the competing Samsung BD-P1500 which offers more features and is heavily discounted online to about the same price.
The Insignia NS-2BRDVD has a traditional boxy shape, with the front faceplate covered in glossy black. The gloss doesn't extend beyond the very front, which makes it less slick than the Samsung BD-P1500's "block of obsidian" look. Front panel controls included the handy chapter forward/backward buttons, and the nicely sized LED screen was easily readable from about 8 feet back. There's an illuminated blue Blu-ray logo right in the center of the unit, which unfortunately isn't dimmable. Overall, it's not the kind of player you'll want to show off, but it's not an eyesore either.
The included remote will look familiar to anyone with Samsung home theater gear (it's a near clone), which means button placement and differentiation is pretty good. One nice touch is that the main playback buttons glow in the dark, which makes it easier to use in a darkened home theater. We've seen reports online that the remote tends to have a weak signal--meaning you have to point it directly at the unit to work--but we didn't have any problems during our testing.
The NS-2BRDVD is Blu-ray Profile 1.1 compatible, but, unlike most recent Blu-ray players, it lacks Profile 2.0 compatibility. That means you won't be able to access Internet-enabled BD-Live features available on some Blu-ray movies. We haven't been impressed with BD-Live features so far, but there have been some promising early attempts, such as director Christopher Nolan's live chat on The Dark Knight. Insignia is promising a firmware update to make the NS-2BRDVD Profile 2.0-compatible in March 2009.
The NS-2BRDVD's high-resolution soundtrack decoding options are below-average also. While it does feature the Dolby TrueHD logo on the outside, closer examination reveals that it can only support the format in stereo; it supports the step-down Dolby Digital Plus in full surround. It also lacks DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, although it does support the step-down format, DTS-HD High Resolution. Lacking full Dolby TrueHD compatibility is especially annoying because all recent Blu-ray players we've tested have it, but the reality is most buyers probably won't hear the difference with the step-down surround tracks. All soundtrack formats are supported in bit-stream output mode.
Connectivity is standard. There's an HDMI output, capable of outputting high-definition video up to 1080p resolution, upscaling standard DVDs to 1080p, and handling high-resolution multichannel audio. There's also a component-video output, which can output Blu-ray Discs at 1080i and DVDs at 480p, along with a legacy composite-video connection. Audio connections include both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as a stereo analog audio output. There's a USB port on the back, too, which can be used to access photos and music from a USB thumb drive. There is no S-Video output, nor are there 5.1/7.1-channel analog outputs--not surprising at this price point.