One sign of a rosy future for Blu-ray disc is the number of new vendors we've seen at CES and the weeks before and after jumping into the Blu-ray player game. Today, or in the not so distant future, you'll be able to find a wide range of Blu-ray players, not just from the mega CE vendors like Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, but from smaller niche manufacturers like Integra and OPPO. Even TV maker VIZIO is jumping into the fray with their first Blu-ray player this spring.
And though Pioneer has been in the Blu-ray game since near the beginning, most of their players have lacked BD-Live functionality and have been priced well above the competition. All that changes with Pioneer's new 2009 line of players, starting with the BDP-120, a full-functioned BD-Live-enabled player that will sell for under $300 MSRP.*
While the BDP-120 does not include any on-board storage, it will ship with a 1GB USB flash drive in the box for BD-Live use. The step-up models BDP-320 (under $400) and the Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD ($599) will both feature one GB of internal on-board memory, as well as the ability to upgrade the memory via a USB port. All players feature an Ethernet port for connection to the internet for BD-Live and firmware upgrades.
All players will also include on-board decoding of all surround sound formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The BDP-320 and BDP-23FD will provide full 7.1-channel analog audio outputs for use with older home theater receivers and preamp/processors which lack HDMI audio support.
All models are expected to begin shipping in April.
Where to Buy:
*[editor's note: 1/27/09 - Pioneer contacted us today to say firm pricing on the BDP-320 and BDP-120 has not yet been announced so we updated our pricing above to "under $300" for the BDP-120 and "under $400" for the BDP-320 at their request].