Though it's not the $50 Blu-ray player that some thought would be out there for Black Friday this year, the $78 Magnavox NB500 that Wal-Mart is offering as a doorbuster is still the cheapest Blu-ray player we've seen to date. This Funai-made player has been around for quite a while now under various brand names, including Philips and Sylvania, and has earned pretty good user feedback. Of course, there's a catch or two.
The NB500 is about as basic as Blu-ray players currently come. Disc load times are super long, and the player is one of the very few still around that can't play back the extra BD-Live content found on many Blu-ray Discs. That said, it can play back Blu-ray movies just fine, and picture quality is terrific. DVDs are said to look pretty good as well. If all you care about is watching high-def discs at the lowest possible cost, the NB500 at Wal-Mart is certainly worth considering.
For those looking to spend just a little bit more for a more capable machine, Best Buy will offer its Insignia NS-BRDVD3 for $99 and throw in a free Blu-ray Disc (either "Superman Returns" or "Beetlejuice"). That's some $50 below the NS-BRDVD3's everyday selling price, but the store has offered the same deal in the past, albeit minus the free Blu-ray movie. In terms of features, the NS-BRDVD3 has some nice goodies, including BD-Live compatibility and the ability to stream Netflix videos. We haven't spotted a professional review as of yet. User reviews at BestBuy.com are a mixed bag, though the majority seems pleased enough.
Costco will likewise be offering a $99 Blu-ray player for Black Friday, in this case the Vizio VBR110. Like the NS-BRDVD3, this is a BD-Live capable player, but Neflix streaming isn't part of the package. What is part of the package is a free HDMI cable, which can cost $30 or more if bought on its own. We haven't seen any user or professional reviews of the Vizio VBR110, but the earlier Vizio VBR100 has drawn some mixed reactions.
If you have still more to spend, don't forget about the Panasonic DMP-BD60K. We name that Blu-ray Disc player as the best budget choice in our report on Blu-ray players. We haven't seen it offered on its own as a Black Friday special (it is included in one bundle with a plasma TV at Best Buy), but while prices vary by quite a bit, we have seen it at regular prices as low as $130 at several retailers, including Amazon.com. Reviews from experts and users are generally solid.