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Bluray Players and Home Theater
#1
The 2013 brands haven't been that great and the 2014 models are actually worse. Here is a Breakdown by Brand:

Lg/Philips/Magnavox/Any other Brand not listed here:
Don't buy them!!!!!!!!

Samsung:
Players less than $100 are really limited and have lots of issues that require unplugging them to reset. The Players that are $100+ were pretty good and had a large selection of Apps. While it was very slow, having Dropbox and other cloud services that competitors didn't have were pretty cool too. The box forgets settings a lot though and you have to login a lot. Very poor wifi, but good ethernet. It had really good DLNA features too and the best appstore, but the other shortcomings just made it annoying. If you can find the older Dual Core 2013 model grab it!

Panasonic:
2012 and older players were the best made. The older players even had a 1.5x speed with audio which was awesome. Panasonic makes the best Plasma TVs too, but at the cheap prices their balance sheet was bleeding red. This hemorrhaging showed in their 2013 Players which added ad banners and other crazy stuff along with removing a lot of the cool options. Like Samsung the less than $100 models are limited on apps...and what it does have barely works other than Netflix. They also share the occasional unplug after a freeze along with broken promises for Amazon Instant video and a smartphone Remote. They do keep good audio on the low range though which Samsung didn't. The $100+ models are ok other than ads. They did leave 2-3 2012 high end models in mix in 2013 that weren't replaced, but they still have a few of the same issue and more...plus aren't worth the high price tag. They are also dropping their Plasma TV lineup which is sad since they were good. 2014 didn't bring any improvements either.

Sony:
Sony has 3 main players in 2013- S1100, S3100, and S5100. The S1100 will probably work for 90% of the people out there. It is right up there with Samsung for number of apps, but Samsung still had some apps/capabilities it didn't. The S3100 Adds Wifi, DLNA, a lame Browser, and Gracenote (A Pointless lookup of what disc you have in to get a picture of the case that pauses the interface while it loads...DVD and Bluray already store what the disc is and this still shows on the S1100). Sony lost the meaning of Gracenote- My 4 year old Panasonic that died had it and there was a button that you could press at any time to lookup what song was playing over the audio like SoundHound does...now that was useful! The S5100 just adds 3D, an extra USB port, and Super Audio CD (Yeah, I don't use it either). They all three have issues linking to routers automatically though and need IP, Gateway, and other options manually set to link properly. Other than the router issue, I never had any other annoying issues for basic content. 2014 models are very buggy though and have all kinds of issues...although some things like DLNA improved.

Good Mix:
I ended up getting a Samsung Dual Core mentioned above and a Roku 3. I've used a Roku 2 before and the 3 is even faster plus the headphone RF remote (Some new Roku 2's are starting to come with the remote though). The Roku has tons of channels to supplement any gaps and even has some Samsung missed. Only issue with it is audio downsampling and conversion- You end up going into settings a lot to switch between Stereo and 5.1 since the channels only output one or the other and for some reason there is no conversion. DLNA paired with an ASUS Router and hard drive is amazing on the Roku 3. For my Surround Sound system I tried every unit sold by Walmart, Sams, Target, Best Buy, and even a couple from Amazon. The only one even worth mentioning from the retail shops was the Bose thing Target sells meant to sit under a small TV- Excellent sound if paired with a Sub (Bose sound fills room, but no Bass). My Final pick though was a Yamaha- cut to fit wires that had plenty of length, sub with separate power to not take away from the amp, good networking, apps (On device and a nice Smartphone app), and firmware updates (Over network or USB).
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