If you're looking to buy a Blu-ray player, the most important thing, in our book, isn't image quality anymore. The fact is, nearly all of today's players can put out identically fantastic images.
How quickly a player can boot into Netflix or access a disc varies widely, and if you can shave up to a minute off waiting for a disk to load that's gotta be a good thing right?
Of the seven players we compared, the Sony BDP-S6200 blitzed the other players in the field. It's no coincidence that both have dual-core processors. The Samsung showed slightly faster disc speed and a better user interface between the two, making it our favorite overall.and the
NB: Theand are included as reference only as they were not technically released in 2014.
One of the best innovations in Blu-ray player design in 2014 has been the integration of dual-core processors, as they have helped halve wait times over those of last year's players. While companies will tell you these processors also enable 4K upscaling, no one should really care about that -- your expensive TV most likely does a better job than your ~$120 disc player.
We tested seven different Blu-ray players and one gaming console, with prices ranging from $90 to over $1,000. Price wasn't always a good indication of speed. For example, theis $280 and includes the "eight-core" Cell processor, but it was the worst performer in the tests it could complete. In its defense, this is an eight-year-old player, and its processor was designed primarily to service games, not apps or Blu-ray disc menus.
We put the players against three tests: 1) the speed of loading Netflix from the main menu; 2) how long it takes to load "Mission: Impossible III" when off and the Play button on the remote is pressed; 3) how quickly the player can run the Java-intensive "Vantage Point" after first ingesting the disk.
Blu-ray player speed test
|CNET's 2014 Blu-ray players speed chart||LG BP540||Panasonic DMP-BDT360||Samsung BD-H5900||Samsung BD-H6500||Sony BDP-5200||Sony BDP-S6200||Sony PlayStation 3 (reference)||Oppo BDP-105 (reference)|
|MI:III (Off,quick start)||-||14.71||6.62||5.47||12.25||11.09||-||-|
|Netflix (until menu)||20.58||13.67||17.31||10.01||19.18||9.53||24.4||11.68|
Three players were unable to complete the second test. Either they weren't able to power up when the Play button was pressed (), lacked a Play button (PS3) or simply behaved erratically (LG).
The LG BP540 responded to the Play button by powering on but would stop at the main home page, and pressing Play again immediately would cause the disk to eject! Playing a disk from the main menu of the LG worked, however.
The competition for the best budget player of 2014 ended up being between the Samsung BD-H6500 and the Sony BDP-S6200. While the Sony beat the Samsung in two scores it was very close, and the Samsung's superior interface (and cheaper price) became the deciding factor. If you're looking for the best mix of price versus performance, however, the BD-H5900 looks like an excellent value.