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Blu-ray player buying guide

Get a picture-perfect home cinema experience.

Blu-ray discs offer a higher-quality movie-viewing experience and have all but taken over the DVD space. But to play them, you’ll need a special Blu-ray player or compatible game console.

To choose the best system for your home theater you’ll want to look size, Wi-Fi connectivity options and — of course — price points.

Compare some of the best Blu-ray players

NameAverage priceDimensions (inches)Wi-Fi connectivityPurchase
LG UBK90 4K Ultra-HD
LG UBK90 4K Ultra-HD
$27516.9 x 8.1 x 1.8 YesBuy now
Samsung BD-J5100
Samsung BD-J5100
$12011.46 x 1.57 x 8.7YesBuy now
Sony UBP-X700
Sony UBP-X700
1.8 x 8.5 x 12.6
YesBuy now
Panasonic DP-UB820
Panasonic DP-UB820
$5002.4 x 8 x 16.9YesBuy now
Samsung UBD-M9500
Samsung UBD-M9500
$4001.8 x 8.9 x 16YesBuy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is Blu-ray and how is it different from DVD?

DVD took over the home-video space from VHS tapes in the 1990s, but Blu-ray has since come along and offers even better video and sound quality.

Blu-ray has a few key advantages over DVD:

  • Better image quality. The latest Blu-ray players can play movies in Ultra HD (UHD) 4K, while DVDs are limited to a much lower resolution. This means you get sharper and clearer pictures on your TV.
  • Better sound quality. Because DVDs offer less storage capacity than Blu-ray discs, surround-sound audio is compressed in order to fit on them. This results in some audio information being lost. Meanwhile, Blu-rays allow for the use of lossless audio formats, meaning you get to hear every line with crystal clarity.
  • Additional content. The extra storage space on Blu-ray discs means they can store more additional content — like cast interviews, gag reels and deleted scenes — than DVDs. And with most models also offering Internet connectivity, you can download extra features and content and stream video from services like Netflix.

While DVD players are still sold by most home electronics retailers and can be purchased a fair bit cheaper than Blu-ray players, Blu-ray is the way of the future and is likely well worth the investment for anyone looking to get a better home cinema experience.

What types are available?

Major electronic brands like Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and more offer Blu-ray players, which can generally be split into two categories:

  1. Standard Blu-ray players. Get a HD 1080p view on your HD TV with a standard player. They’re now quite affordable and can be purchased for less than $100.
  2. 4K Blu-ray players. These allow you to view UHD content on a 4K TV. They provide the best picture quality and can complete your entertainment experience if you’ve upgraded to a UHD TV.

How to compare Blu-ray players

Several considerations should be taken into account when you’re picking out a Blu-ray player. Here are the factors to compare:

  • Price. You can pick up a standard Blu-ray player for well under $100. While 4K models are more expensive, prices have dropped in recent years and they’re generally available for between $200 and $300. If you choose a Blu-ray player that also features a built-in HDD recorder, prices start at $400 and can push up towards $1,000.
  • Ease of use. Take a close look at the instruction manual and reviews from other buyers to find out how easy the machine is to use. Is connecting it to your TV simple and straightforward? Is its user interface intuitive and easy to navigate? Is the remote well laid out and does it provide easy access to all essential functions?
  • Connectivity. You can connect your Blu-ray player to your TV using an HDMI cable, but some also offer composite RCA connection in case you need your player to work with an older TV. Models with dual HDMI outputs allow you to send audio and video to separate equipment if needed.
  • Wi-Fi. Most Blu-ray players on the market have Wi-Fi connectivity, and many also feature an Ethernet port for a more reliable connection. This may allow you to stream content from services like Netflix, so check which apps the Blu-ray player comes with to ensure easy access to the streaming platforms you want.
  • BD-Live. If any of your discs have BD-Live functionality, you can access online bonus content like trailers, deleted scenes and more as long as your Blu-ray player can connect to the Internet.

Additional factors to think about:

Bottom line

If you enjoy watching high-quality movies from the comfort of home, investing in a Blu-ray player might be well worth it. While basic models are now relatively affordable, higher-end players can be on the pricey side. Compare a few of the most popular models in your price range before splurging on this tech item.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best Blu-ray players, we conducted online research to determine some of the most popular players currently available, comparing the price, size and Wi-Fi connectivity.

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