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Monday, May 20, 2024


One cold and wet British summer, a Home Cinema reviewer was growing old waiting for a Blu-ray player to play his copy of Zombie Strippers — for review purposes only, of course — when an idea came to him. Some sort of ranking for how fast Blu-ray players load discs.

This way, when we review a new player, we can pop its results in here, and everyone can look back in five years and laugh at how slow everything was in the old days. Of course, by then we won’t be watching Blu-ray movies anyway, because we’ll all be too busy flying our rocket packs and dating robots.

To benchmark the players, we use a copy of the movie Vantage Point. The testing procedure is as follows: first we turn on the player and open the disc tray. We then pop our Vantage Point disc in the tray. From there, we time how long it takes for a player to ingest the disc and start playing it — for the PS3 we started the clock at the point the mechanism started to draw the disc in. We stop the clock when the Sony Pictures logo appears on screen.

So, here are the players, listed from slowest to fastest with their current retail prices and their review score.

#7 Pioneer BDP-LX71

Price: £600
BD Profile: 1.1
Time to load and play test disc: 1 minute 54 seconds
Our score: 8.5

A great player, with some of the best picture and sound quality we’ve seen. A shame then it’s slower than a one-legged horse with bad knees. Of course, we would still happily include this player in our home cinema, we’d just factor in a little extra time at the start of movie night to compensate.

#6 Panasonic DMP-BD35

Price: £215
BD Profile: 2.0
Time to load and play test disc: 1 minute 16 seconds
Our score: 9

Another one of our favourite players with plenty of extra functionality, such as profile 2 support. The Panasonic loads discs quickly enough, but it’s still a long way from taking the top spot.

#5 (joint) Samsung BD-P1500Price: £180
BD Profile: 2.0 (via firmware update)
Time to load and play test disc: 1 minute 9 seconds
Our score: 8.3

The DB-P1500 was a genuine surprise — it might not be the fastest on the block, but it’s the cheapest stand-alone player we’ve seen, and it supports profile 2.0. A definite one to consider, we think.

#5 (joint) Sony BDP-S350Price: £155BD Profile: 2.0Time to load and play test disc: 1 minute 9 secondsOur score: 9

Everything about this player is likeable. Sony has seen fit to implement the full 2.0 profile on its stand-alone players and it’s as cheap as chips. If you don’t want a PS3, or you can’t afford one, this is almost certainly the best-value stand-alone player on the market.

#4 LG BD370

Price: £220
BD Profile: 2.0
Time to load and play test disc: 47 seconds
Our score: 9

The LG BD370 is one of our favourite Blu-ray players. Its support for MKV format video means its half way to being a media streamer and the design and other features make this a really, really good choice. Okay, its not quite as snappy as the two new Samsung machines, but it’s certainly taking a step in the right direction with these decent load times.

#3 Samsung BD-P4600

Price: £270
BD Profile: 2.0
Time to load and play test disc: 43.5 seconds
Our score: 8.7

The 4600 was so close to kicking the PS3 into touch we could taste it. But it couldn’t quite beat the speedy games console. That said, there are other advantages to it — such as a very rapid disc eject time and interesting styling. This is a good player, but we think Samsung’s other machine, the BD-P3600, is a better buy.

#2 Sony PS3

Price: £300
BD Profile: 2.0
Time to load and play test disc: 42 seconds
Our score: 8.7

No real surprise here: the PS3 is essentially a supercomputer, so we’d expect it to load Java content rapidly. Having set the stand-alone players a target to reach and been king of the hill for so long, it’s finally been surpassed as the Blu-ray master.

#1 Samsung BD-P3600

Price: £250
BD Profile: 2.0
Time to load and play test disc: 41 seconds
Our score: 8.7

At long last, a player that can beat the PS3. The BD-P3600 even manages to play our test disc quicker than its big brother, the BD-P4600. Impressive stuff — and a very likeable Blu-ray player as well.

Note: We’ve updated this list as and when we’ve tested new Blu-ray players.

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