Even cheap Blu-ray players are great performers
Like fine wines, Blu-ray players have only gotten better as the technology has aged. Experts largely agree that when it comes to playing back Blu-ray Discs, even budget players now perform like champs -- or at least close enough that all but the most eagle-eyed videophile will be hard-pressed to find very many faults. Blu-ray players can also play standard-definition DVDs, which means your existing DVD collection will be anything but obsolete if you choose to upgrade. Even better, when it comes to upscaling your DVDs to match the resolution of an HDTV, most Blu-ray players outperform all but the highest-end DVD players.
Reviewers tell us that many current Blu-ray Disc players are more capable and easier to use than their predecessors, with quick and responsive menu navigation, though some suffer from sluggish start-up times. Features that were once rare are also commonplace in current Blu-ray players. Those include 3D video support and the ability to run Internet apps, including streaming video services like Netflix or Hulu Plus and streaming music offerings like Pandora and Slacker. The icing on the cake is that Blu-ray player prices have plummeted.
Though you can still easily pay $1,000 or more for a premium player, excellent mainstream players can be had for just a little over $100. Performance is what most often sets these players apart, with the most highly regarded -- and highest-priced -- Blu-ray Disc spinners delivering reference-level video and sometimes audio that will please even the pickiest of videophiles and audiophiles. And while mainstream Blu-ray players don't quite measure up to those on the high end of the market, they don't fall that far short, either, especially when it comes to Blu-ray image quality. That makes them the best choice for most buyers.
To find the best Blu-ray players we looked at picture quality first, and also weighed lots of other factors. One of the biggest knocks against early-generation Blu-ray players was that they were slow to load and otherwise a general pain to use. That's why we also scored today's models on how quick they are to boot up and cruise through menus, how easy it is to access and use features, and how well those features work. We looked at expert reviews, of course, but also lots and lots of user reviews, in coming up with our recommendations.