October 26, 2009 by Stephen Hopkins
The $99 mark has long been the mythic point-of-entry for the masses still sitting on the Blu-ray sideline. While a few refurbished and extremely entry-level players have flirted with or crossed that threshold, we might finally be seeing some of the players that will really start big-time Blu-ray adoption.
Today’s deal is the newly released Insignia NS-BRDVD3 Blu-ray player, a Best Buy exclusive (since it’s their in-house brand) and currently available for $99 - down from the everyday $149 price.
What makes this cheap-o player of particular interest, other than the price tag, is that it carries Netflix streaming capabilities (via firmware update, currently available). While I wouldn’t expect DVD scaling performance to be much different than past Insignia models (read: mediocre), the point-of-entry and Netflix capabilities make this a very solid deal.
In lieu of a full review, I spent about 20 minutes playing around with one of these hooked up at my local Best Buy and found ergonomics, menu performance, and usability to be quite impressive. Menu functions are responsive and Netflix streaming via Ethernet started quickly and maintained the picture quality I’ve come to expect from most Netflix enabled devices.
One very nice feature not present in most Netflix implementations is the ability to browse the various Watch Instantly categories, not just what you’ve added to your queue from you PC. From my brief hands-on, I would definitely recommend this player for small displays (under 50”), bedrooms, or any application where DVD playback is not going to be the primary function.
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Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.
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