Do you have an HDTV? For the best viewing, you'll need an HDTV with 1080p resolution. Some HDTVs only have 720p resolution, and with those, the HD images will be scaled down to fit the television's available pixels. However, the image is still HD, and picture quality should be terrific. If you don't have an HDTV, save your money and buy a DVD player as a Blu-ray player's higher quality image output won't be visible on a standard-definition television.
Do you want to watch movies in 3D? For 3D viewing, you'll need a Blu-ray player capable of 3D output, a TV capable of displaying 3D images and a pair of 3D glasses for each person.
Does you other home theater hardware include streaming Internet apps? One way Blu-ray players differentiate themselves is with their selection of Internet-enabled apps. If you already own home theater equipment with Internet capabilities -- such as a smart TV, a media streamer like the Roku box or a gaming console like the Xbox 360 -- then the streaming offerings will mean less to you.
Do you want to use the Blu-ray player to stream music, movies and pictures from your PC to your TV? If so, be sure to select a Blu-ray player with DLNA compatibility. Again, your other home theater gear may already have DLNA functionality built in.
How will you connect the Blu-ray player to the Internet? Wi-Fi helps to get to all of that streaming content in case you don't have a convenient wired (Ethernet) connection. Many Blu-ray players now have Wi-Fi built-in. Others will include a USB Wi-Fi adapter in the box. The least expensive choices might only be Wi-Fi ready, which means you'll need to purchase a separate Wi-Fi adapter (*Est. $80) if you need to use Wi-Fi to connect to the net, or might not offer a way to add Wi-Fi at all.
Do you have a lot of DVDs? Blu-ray players can also play standard-definition discs, but some do a better job of it than others. That's something to consider if you own a large collection of standard-definition DVDs.
Shop around. Prices for Blu-ray players can vary greatly, especially online. Watch out for unauthorized dealers, however. While they will often have the lowest prices, many manufacturers reserve the right to not honor their warranties if the player is not purchased from an authorized reseller. Some dealers will offer their own warranty as a substitute.
Buy your HDMI cords online. Unless you're looking for a cable of exceptionally long length, any high-speed HDMI cord will be able to display a Blu-ray player's 1080p video just fine. You can often buy those cords at online retailers like Amazon.com, Newegg.com or Monoprice.com for much lower prices than you can at brick-and-mortar locations.