How Blu-ray models from Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic stack up
If you have been waiting to get on the Blu-ray bandwagon, now may be the time. Lower-end models now have some juicy extras, including access to extra clips released online by movie studios. On the other hand, they can take a long time to boot up. And the Sharp and Panasonic models don't use analog RCA connections, which are way better for surround-sound audio.
1. CLAIM TO FAME: WI-FI CONNECTION
Sony BDP-S560 The Sony BDP-S560 has Wi-Fi access, which makes it easy to watch extra online content or stream photos. It can also read photos off a USB drive. Another perk: It's smaller (at 8 inches deep) and lighter (at 5 pounds) than its competitors. COST: $350
2. CLAIM TO FAME: SUPERLOW PRICE
Sharp BD-HP17U Despite its low price, the Sharp BD-HP17U still comes packed with the latest Dolby and DTS technologies for generating surround sound. It has a quick-start mode that puts the player to sleep without shutting it down and can launch your movies in 10 seconds. COST: $280
3. CLAIM TO FAME: YOUTUBE ACCESS
Panasonic DMP-BD60K The Panasonic DMP-BD60K lets you watch YouTube videos, grab photos from Picasa, and check the local weather and Bloomberg stock reports. Plus, it provides access to the Amazon video-on-demand service, so you can stream movies and abandon discs altogether. COST: $300