Does a cheaper PS3 make standalone Blu-ray players overpriced again?

The PS3 Slim's $300 price makes us reevaluate the value of standalone Blu-ray players.

Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
Matthew Moskovciak
2 min read
A $300 PS3 makes us reevaluate the value of standalone Blu-ray players.
A $300 PS3 makes us reevaluate the value of standalone Blu-ray players. CNET

For most of Blu-ray's existence, the PlayStation 3 has easily been the best value in home theater. Only recently have we reviewed Blu-ray players that come close to matching its performance, speed, and functionality, while costing about the same amount.

The $300 PS3 Slim changes the marketplace considerably. Standalone Blu-ray players that offer similar performance to the PS3, like the LG BD390 and Samsung BD-P3600, used to offer some savings over PS3, but now they actually cost a little more. How can these standalone players expect us to pay more?

If you want to use the PS3 with a universal remote, you'll have to pay extra for an IR-to-Bluetooth converter.

The standalone players have a few points in their favor. The most obvious is the ease-of-use, as they behave nearly identically to DVD players, making them easier for tech novices to use. The players also all have IR receptors, which make them easy to integrate with universal remotes without buying a pricey IR-to-Bluetooth converter.

Blu-ray players from Samsung and LG also feature Netflix and Pandora streaming, which are generally better options than Sony's pricey movie store. More expensive players, like the LG BD390 and Samsung BD-P3600, also feature 7.1 analog outputs, making them better choices for those with older, non-HDMI AV receivers who still want to experience Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio at their full resolution.

Even considering those factors, the PS3 Slim is an easy choice for anyone even slightly interested in high-def gaming or network media streaming. (Some Blu-ray players feature media streaming, but the PS3 offers a better overall experience.) We can still see the LG BD390 (currently our top-rated standalone player) being a better choice for some buyers, but we feel like the price is going to have to drop to stay competitive as the holidays get closer.

Standalone Blu-ray players may not be as overpriced as they were a year ago, but the PS3 Slim makes them seem like less of a value.

What do you think? Does the ease-of-use of standalone players, plus streaming features like Netflix, make them worthy competitors of the PS3 Slim? Or is the PS3 Slim now easily the value for the tech-savvy looking to get into Blu-ray?