Sony PlayStation 3 Slim
It may come as a surprise that the first pick is a gaming console first and a Blu-ray player second, but that is exactly what makes it so valuable. The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim costs around $300 and is a top-performing, gaming console/Blu-ray player hybrid. One of the drawbacks to choosing the PS3 Slim is that it only has streaming access to Netflix and the PlayStation Network. However, this will give you access to tons of movies, TV shows and games. The console is also DLNA-compliant so streaming content from a networked PC is a breeze.
Other great features of the PS3 Slim include support for Profile 2.0 Blu-ray discs, easy firmware updates via Wi-Fi (including a future 3D capable update) and excellent video quality for Blu-ray discs and great upconverting for old DVDs. Those who use universal remotes will be disappointed that this unit lacks IR support without an external accessory. However, the PS3 Slim is a firm pick for best Blu-ray player given the combination of features and the great price.
Panasonic DMP-BDT210 Wi-Fi 3D
Hardly just a Blu-ray player, Panasonic has stuffed their DMP-BDT210 with features and tagged it with a budget price of less than $200. With Wi-Fi, 3D capability, and content streaming through the Viera Cast interface from Netflix, Pandora, Amazon Instant, Vudu and CinemaNow, there is little this Blu-ray player doesn’t do. If you’re a member and devotee of Hulu Plus or MLB.tv, you may want to opt for a different player as these services aren’t offered. Another great feature is the DLNA certification which grants access to files such as MP3, MKV and JPEG via a networked PC or USB.
An interesting feature is the touch-free sensor which ejects the disc tray with a wave of your hand, but it can be disabled if you find it more annoying than convenient. Though movies have a much faster load time than with other players, the DMP-BDT210 slows a bit when navigating menu screens. In terms of older technology, this player does a great job of upconverting DVDs, but misses the mark on connecting to older HDTVs. This player will only connect through an HDMI port, so if you’re television isn’t equipped, an AV receiver is needed. There’s also no on-board memory, so storage must be done via a SD card. Given the few minor drawbacks, this is still a top player that delivers great video and audio output at a price most consumers can afford.
LG BD670 3D Wireless Network Blu-ray Disc Player with Smart TV
Multimedia fans on a budget will be hard-pressed to find a Blu-ray player that meets their needs better than the LG BD670. The built in Wi-Fi delivers on internet TV and LG’s Smart TV offers streaming content from popular providers such as Netflix, Amazon Instant, Vudu, CinemaNow, YouTube, Pandora, Napster and more. This BD player is ready to playback h.264 AVCHD files in addition to MKV, DivX, MP4 and other standard file formats. The high definition media output ensures that video and audio quality are high and it supports lossless audio codecs such as Dolby TrueHD. One drawback is that you’ll need a receiver with an HDMI port if you want to take advantage of the full 7.1 channel sound output. It also doesn’t come with on-board memory meaning that a USB is required to access BD-Live content. The sheer versatility combined with a price that can easily be found below the $200 mark make his BD player is a clear front-runner in the long line of competitors.
Other top players include the high-end OPPO BDP-93 and Sony’s BDP-S580. The OPPO is a great choice for videophiles looking for a universal disc player with superb audio and video output, while this mid-range Sony delivers outstanding video and audio quality and the includes the Sony XMB interface. There are several great Blu-ray players on the market outside of the ones on this list. When shopping for your own, remember to take into account not just what you can afford, but also the features and performance you get for the money.
Guest article written by: Katie Campbell is an editor for Bestcovery.com where she writes electronics and computer reviews. Her interest in Blu-ray started from the very first time she saw that bright blue light, and has been devouring Blu-ray news and Blu-ray player reviews ever since.