Once considered something only for well-heeled videophiles, Blu-ray has now become a part of many home theater setups. Home Media Magazine quotes research that reports 18 percent of homes with a TV will have a Blu-ray player to go with it by the end of the year. There are plenty of reasons for that. Prices have dropped dramatically, and manufacturers have heaped loads of features into even budget Blu-ray players -- such as the ability to get more movies, music and other content directly from the Internet. Picture quality with Blu-ray Discs is very good, even on budget players, and the best Blu-ray players overall approach visual perfection. You can learn more about the top choices in our updated report on Blu-ray players.
And they play Blu-ray Discs, too
Though the pricy Oppo BDP-83 remains a top pick among those who want the very best picture quality from Blu-ray Discs and DVDs, there's a bevy of less-expensive Blu-ray players that deliver quality that's good enough to please all but the pickiest of viewers, and throw an almost dizzying array of extra features into the mix.
For example, lots of Blu-ray players have the ability to pull in additional content. The LG BD590 goes one step beyond most. In addition to content partners like Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, Pandora and others, the BD590 can stream content from your networked computer and store it on its built-in 250 GB hard drive. Things don't always work seamlessly, it's pretty easy to use once you get the hang of things. Blu-ray picture quality is among the best, and most say that DVD performance is not far behind.
One thing that the LG BD590 can't do is display 3D content. If that's a must, the Sony BDP-S570 can get that job done in addition to being very capable otherwise. The BDP-S570 is fast, leaving many other Blu-ray players in its dust. Streaming from the Internet and from your PC is part of the package as well, but there's no built-in hard drive for local storage.
Those looking for a basic Blu-ray player might be drawn to the Panasonic DMP-BD65K. Though the DMP-BD65K has some quirks, like asking owners to spring for a sub-$10 memory card if they want Internet features, its picture quality is excellent. Internet streaming is included, though the roster of content partners isn't especially broad. You can get more information on these players and a host of others that are worth consideration in our freshly-updated Blu-ray players report.