* Prices may differ from that shown
Something of a caveat, first - I'm no technohead. I like my technology, but I could no more give you an account of the dark arts that occur behind the shiny cover than I could talk you through brain surgery. This is the Layman's perspective, with added Laymen.
We hadn't really planned on getting a Blu-Ray player - I'd always considered them a bit of a frivolous extra; nothing you'd actually need when it came down to it. A few demos that I'd caught piqued my interest, though - with the right film, the results are hugely impressive, and the difference is enormous. When films are shot to take advantage of the technology, they look stunning. So, when we came to upgrade our TV, the temptation to take advantage of a bundle-offer was substantial. I wilted, and I'm glad I did.
Installation's easy as anything, and - I'll be honest - I haven't glanced at the manual, conforming to the gender stereotype neatly. I haven't needed to, though - this is more or less plug and play technology; it plugs into the back of the TV and the mains, and that's it. A peek at the instructions suggests that there's a lot more than can be done with the model, including Youtube functionality and a curious-sounding kareoke feature, but I didn't buy the Blu-Ray player for that. I bought it to take advantage of our new TV's potential, hoping it would deliver an impressive picture, and it more than does that.
Even standard DVDs look good on this, but pop in a Blu-Ray disc, and the quality's absolutely top-notch. Everything's so crisp and sharp, and colours shine through brilliantly. I wouldn't have considered that something missing beforehand, but now I really appreciate just how good a picture can look. Movement is smooth and clean, light/dark balances are great, and the level of detail and resolution is fantastic.
Combined with its easy-to-use, intuitive design - and the fact that this is a nice, sleek-looking piece of kit that'll fit in with any of the latest and greatest-looking technology - this all adds up to make this a great purchase it my eyes.
Do I have any quibbles? Barely, but for completeness's sake, I'll confess that it can be a little slow to start up sometimes, and it tends to ignore your button presses the first few times while it's waking up. If I'm being hyper-critical, the buttons are also kind of diddy, but that's probably the fault of my monster hands more than anything else. Occasionally, the machine also switches itself back on after it's been turned off, but this is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and takes nothing away from the quality of the picture - which is, of course, why you bought it.
All in all, then - this comes highly-recommended. I've seen them on sale for under £100 now, and for me that's exceptional value. If you're still using DVDs, I'd suggest the upgrade's well worth it. It opens up a world of quality that I didn't realise was out there, and if you're the kind of person who spends a lot on your TV and uses it a lot, this really helps get the best out of your equipment.