Here is my comparison of the Pioneer BDP-80FD and three other blu-ray players.
I purchased and compared four different blu-ray players (Sony S6500, Sony S5500, Panasonic DMP-BDT460, and the Pioneer BDP-80FD) trying to find the best bang for my buck. I also tested the DVD upscaling ability of each player. All tests were done with the 'Standard' or 'Auto' setting on each player.
Display: Panasonic TC-P60ZT60 on THX Cinema Mode
Test Discs: Pixar's Toy Story 2 Blu-ray, Pixar's Toy Story 2 DVD
Scenes: Woody's Restoration, Jessie's Song (Flashback Scene), Buzz's visit to Al's Toy Barn
In Woody's Restoration, I looked for the details on Woody's face and body, depth and realism on the restorer's face, and the texture on the surface of pump.
In Jessie's Song, I looked for the ability to differentiate between the color of Jessie's hair and her hat. I also looked for the difference in the texture between her braided hair and the felt of her hat. The scene where Jessie plays with Emily in the park, with the constantly changing light and the 'lens flare', was a litmus test for the players.
In the Al's Toy Barn scene, you see a wall of green and blue from the Buzz Lightyear packages on the shelf. I looked for the ability to display the colors in a controlled way, without any color 'bloom' or smearing.
The Pioneer did the best job of displaying accurate, lifelike color. I found very little 'banding' or color 'bloom' on even the most challenging scenes. In addition, the images were 3-Dimensional, with a lot of depth and texture. It clearly showed the texture of Jessie's hair and the felt in her hat. The restorer's craggy face was stunning with excellent contrast and clarity, without any false-sharp edges. In the Toy Barn scene, it controlled the colors very well, with absolutely no smearing. Other players did not control the colors as well as the Pioneer or convey any depth in that scene.
My ranking of the players: The Pioneer was the overall winner by a wide margin.
1. Pioneer BDP-80FD: Excellent performer. Brilliant, lifelike picture. Very 3-Dimensional. Excellent color rendition. Excellent DVD upscaling, with no visible artifacts.
2. Sony S6500: Very good. Lacked the depth and 3-Dimensionality of the Pioneer. DVD Upscaling is also a step below the Pioneer.
3. Panasonic DMP-BDT460: Very good DVD upscaling, but fell short on color accuracy.
4. Sony S5500: The worst of the lot. Poor color rendition, and clearly lacking in depth and 3-Dimensionality.
This exercise took a lot of time and almost exhausted my wife's patience. But, it was very enlightening. It put to rest, once and for all, the lie that all blu-ray players 'put out identical images'. The difference was most stark when comparing the Sonys (even the picture setting options are different).
I kept the Pioneer for my main system (because I wanted the best), and the Sony S6500 for my bedroom (because I wanted a more economical alternative for the less demanding system).
I hope this review helps anybody who is on the fence .....