Updated: May 9, 2015

Blu Ray Player Reviews and Buying Guide:

Blu-Ray players were fighting with HD DVD players for top billing and now manufacturers and movie studios are only supporting the Blu-Ray format. That's a win for consumers so now you can focus your attention on one type of machine and not worry that you are investing in something that will soon be nonexistant (like the Betamax players). Blu-Ray players are not cheap but the picture quality (1080p) is what you are paying for and movie lovers can't say enough about the latest blu-ray disc players on the market. It used to be that Blu-Ray players were unstable and didn't work that well with all discs, but now they are almost error free and serve up high definition footage. If you don't already have an HDTV then don't bother buying a Blu-Ray player since the high definition capability will be lost. Also, if you have standard DVD discs, your new Blu-Ray player will play them just fine. Upscaling is another term that you may hear when learning about Blu-Ray players. That is the ability of the DVD player to bring regular DVD's up to HD quality. Blu-Ray players do an excellent job of this.


The big news to most consumers is that the price of Blu-Ray players is much higher than regular DVD players which sell for less than $50. A Blu-Ray player will cost you a minimum of $100 for the most basic models like the Panasonic DMP-BD65 and some will go beyond $200 or $300. They have come down in price over the last year and further price drops are expected as the holiday season approaches. If the economy continues to struggle along, you could see prices slide another 25% or more. Is now the right time to buy a new Blu-Ray player? Experts say going with the Sony PlayStation 3 ($300) is still your best bet since you get high definition movie quality and the PS3 game console. For families that wanted to buy a PS3 it's a no brainer, but for those that already own a game console like XBox, they may want to go with a standalone Blu-Ray player like the Panasonic DMP-BD30 which gets a top rating as well. If you are someone who went out and bought a bunch of HD DVD discs and want a player that is compatible with both HD DVDs and Blu-Ray discs you are in luck. It will cost you though, the LG Super Blu BH200 plays both formats for around $500. The top brands are Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, LG, Philips, Insignia, Sylvania, and Magnavox. Two features in current Blu-Ray players are becoming must haves if you have see all aspects of movies and use the machine to its fullest. The first is the BonusView (picture in picture playback capability) which very few players seem to support and then the BD-Live feature which the PS3. The PS3 can get content via the Internet which is what BD-Live is all about. Other features worth considering are how fast the unit will start up and play the movies. Some were excessively slow based on tests done by PC World. Of course you can't go without great picture quality, brightness, contrast, and audio. We found some great reviews online at PC World, Slashgear.com, Blu-ray.com, and in several audio/video forums where you get hardcore movie enthusiasts who expect the most from their Blu-Ray players. Consumer Reports really should do an article on the latest Blu-ray players but nothing has appeared in recent magazines to help the average consumer figure out their purchase. CNET is perhaps the best website in doing reviews of techie type products and their comprehensive list of Blu-Ray players with expert reviews and owner feedback is priceless if you are in the market to buy a new one. Renting Blu-Ray movies from Blockbuster and NetFlix is commonplace and will become the dominant source very quickly. We have tried to supply some of the best options for buying a Blu-Ray player down below with the "best picks" in each category. You can browse the best selling Blu-Ray disc players here.

Best Blu-Ray Player:

In almost all reviews we read online and in magazines, the Sony PlayStation 3 ($300) was the top choice in terms of value for what you get. The important thing to consider is that you get a complete gaming system from Sony and a near perfect video performance in high definition movies on Blu-Ray. One of my neighbors has the PS3 and I watched a movie over there and was amazed at the crisp, clean picture quality on their HDTV. I have a 1080p Panasonic 50 inch plasma and play HD videos on it all the time and thought ours was pretty clear, but the Sony PS3 Blu-Ray player was incredible. If you are in the market to buy a gaming console for your family, then the PS3 is a "no brainer" for what you get. The BD-Live (Profile 2.0) and BD Java capabilities are what make this Blu-Ray machine top notch in performance. With the recent drop in price of the Xbox 360 we are hoping to see the PS3 console drop in price as well for the Christmas season or at least get reduced if the economy doesn't pick up. All major electronics retails like BestBuy sell the PS3 or you can pick it up online at Amazon.com.


Top Rated Blu Ray Player:

Not everyone wants the PS3 game console so we can understand consumers searching for a standalone Blu-Ray player like the Panasonic DMP-BD65 ($120). Several sites posted this player as an overall good purchase for an excellent picture, ultra fast startup, wireless ready, compact design, and energy efficient. Most other sources, said the BD65 was one of the fastest players on the market and could bitstream Dolby TrueHD. Another option is the Panasonic DMP-BD85K ($200) which is considered a midrange model in this field. The Panasonic Blu-Ray player is WiFi enabled and features a super sensitive antenna. It will deliver full HD 1080p output and the video and audio performance is superior to most brands. LG blu ray players are top sellers on Amazon as well as those made by Samsung and Sony. The OPPO gets the best reviews, but at close to $500, it's hard to justify the purchase. The OPPO BDP-83 features SACD, DVD-Audio, and VRS Technology.


Dual Format Blu Ray and HD DVD Player:

As we mentioned, there was a battle going on for a while between HD DVD players and Blu-Ray players before the manufacturers and movie studios decided on Blu-Ray going forward. There is one standout Blu-Ray player that has a dual format playing ability and it will also play your HD DVDs. The LG Super Blu BH200 will cost you about $500 and it can be bought in stores like BestBuy or online at Amazon.com. It will play high definition movies on both HD DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Amazon had it listed at close to $800 but many people said you could buy it straight from LG for much cheaper. We saw a sale on Bestbuy.com for this unit at $399. It's the "best of both worlds" says one owner and a "great dual format hi-def player" says another. Probably not worth the premium in price unless you currently have a large collection of HD DVD movies you own.