Whether you go for an entry-level Blu-ray player or a more expensive midrange model mostly comes down to whether you need one feature--built-in Wi-Fi. Samsung's BD-C5500 lacks built-in Wi-Fi (although it can be added with an $80 USB dongle), but comes in about at $65 cheaper than the step-up BD-C6500
and still offers up the same excellent image quality. The BD-C5500 also features Samsung Apps, the company's expandable platform for streaming media and other Internet services like Twitter. While it may not achieve the same popularity as Apple's App Store, the platform is already well-stocked with names like Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and YouTube. The BD-C5500 is also one of the few entry-level players to also be DLNA-compliant; both the LG BD550
and Panasonic DMP-BD65K
lack the ability to stream digital media over a network.
On the other hand, the BD-C5500 lacks many of the extra features that give the more expensive BD-C6500 its edge over the competition, such as 7.1 analog audio outputs and onboard memory. It also shares its step-up's other flaws, namely sluggish operational speed and the fact that last year's Samsung Blu-ray player seemed to have reliability issues. Overall, the BD-C5500 stands out from the entry-level pack with Samsung Apps and DLNA-compatibility, but if those features are not a priority for you, you might be happier with a faster entry-level player.