Best Cheap Blu-ray Players
Published on By Michael Sweet
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Review
From $130 Best
The DMP-BDT220 earns accolades for overall value from experts, and we can see why. This 3D Blu-ray player seems to have far fewer problems streaming video than some other budget players, it loads discs quickly, it's Wi-Fi ready, and the interface is user-friendly.
It's clear from the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 reviews we read that this Blu-ray player deserves a spot at the top of our list. CNET's Panasonic DMP-BDT220 review assigns it the "best value" moniker for 2012, citing the model's many features and sub-$150 price, not to mention its excellent video quality. The well-designed interface earns a shout-out in the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 review by Tech Review Source as does what consumers refer to in their Panasonic DMP-BDT220 reviews at Amazon as the easy set up. Additionally, users say the Wi-Fi capability seems to outperform the wireless connectivity on other budget Blu-rays, although several report the device has some difficulty maintaining a network connection. Users like the speed at which discs load, display menus, and eject, and the stable streaming and crisp, clear, and vibrant playback also draw oohs and aahs.
Compared to other lower-cost Blu-ray players, the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 (starting at $130, Amazon) is loaded with features. It's got built-in Wi-Fi and 3D capabilities and supports a variety of streaming services, including Netflix, Skype, Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, CinemaNow, as well as DLNA streaming from a PC. The player also supports the usual array of audio formats, including Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital True HD, DTS, and DTS-HD, and is compatible with Skype. For connectivity, the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 is outfitted with an HDMI port, an audio optical out port, an Ethernet port, an SD card slot, and two USB 2.0 ports. One demerit: no support for subscription music services.
It's a pleasant surprise to find a feature-rich and high-performance Blu-ray player like the DMP-BDT220 for less than $150. These days most Blu-rays can play back sharp-looking video but all too many budget players suffer from a variety of ills, like not being able to recognize discs and problems with streaming services. We came across very few complaints in PanasonicDMP-BDT220 reviews, which, for the most part, are packed with words of praise. This is the cheap Blu-ray player to beat.
LG BP620 Review
From $139 Best
Among the strengths of the LG BP620 are its ability to load discs quickly, solid Wi-Fi connections, Smart TV functionality, and an easy-to-manage interface. Experts and users are sold on this budget model despite some shortcomings, like no Amazon Instant streaming.
The LG BP620 is a competitively-priced Blu-ray player with features and performance that users appreciate and experts praise. PC Mag is sufficiently impressed to name this model an Editor's Choice. This expert LG BP620 review raves about the speed at which the player loads discs -- about 21 seconds, which passes for lightning fast in the budget end of the market. Even loading BD-Live discs, which is always a slower process, proceeds at a rapid clip; PC Mag pegs the time to get one up and running at just over 30 seconds, compared to the minute or so most lower-priced Blu-ray players need to load BD-Live discs. CNET says the user interface is well-designed and the player does a top-notch job of streaming Netflix content. But take note, the LG BP620 review continues, this model doesn't support Amazon's streaming services, which seems like a curious omission given the many other streaming services in its arsenal. One user who posted a LG BP620 review at Amazon likewise laments the lack of support for Amazon streaming and another gripes that the wireless couldn't connect to Netflix; a few complain about difficulty getting the BP620 to play nicely with their home networks. Still, excellent picture quality in 2D and 3D, an array of Internet and Smart TV apps, quick set up, and compact size win over the majority of consumers, according to LG BP620 reviews at Best Buy.
The LG BP620 (starting at $139, Amazon) is a 3D player with built-in Wi-Fi, an HDMI port, Ethernet port, optical digital audio output, and a USB port. The BP620 supports the usual array of audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. Streaming services include Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, YouTube, CinemaNow, and Hulu Plus. You can also stream content from your PC to the player thanks to its DLNA support. Additionally, a compatible smart phone can be used to control the device.
If you hate waiting for Blu-ray discs to load, you'll like the speed of the LG BP620 -- it's one of the fastest-loading low-cost players currently on the market. The LG BP620 is easy to use and includes a good selection of streaming services. We noticed a handful of complaints about streaming or network connectivity problems, but most users seem well satisfied with this Blu-ray player.
Where to buy
Panasonic DMP-BD75 Review
From $80 Good
If all you ask from a Blu-ray player is high quality video playback, this Panasonic model is the best bargain buy. It's short on frills -- no 3D or Wi-Fi support here -- but video quality is spot-on and you can't beat the price.
The consensus of Panasonic DMP-BD75 reviews: If you're looking for a super-cheap, no-frills Blu-ray player, this one is a solid pick. An expert Panasonic DMP-BD75 review by Pocket Lint reports that it loads discs quickly and plays high quality video with no discernible jaggies or other artifacts. Tech Radar is likewise impressed with video playback, especially the deep and lively color and crisp detail. This Panasonic DMP-BD75 review also commends the simple user interface. Most consumers who posted Panasonic DMP-BD75 reviews at Newegg like this player for similar reasons, although one says it's slow to respond to commands from the remote and another reports the player sometimes freezes during Netflix playback. Most users appreciate the picture quality, speedy disc loading, and easy set up, according to Panasonic DMP-BD75 reviews at Amazon but echo complaints about freezing and note other minor irritants, such as limited video streaming services and the remote's integration with only Panasonic TVs.
The Panasonic DMP-BD75 (starting at $80, Amazon) features the most modest specs among the Blu-ray players we researched. There's no Wi-Fi or 3D support, but it does have an Ethernet port so you can wire it directly to your home network; by doing so you can access Netflix, CinemaNow, and Vudu streaming services. Naturally, the DMP-BD75 has an HDMI output as well as a USB port. The player supports high-end audio standards such as Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS-HD but lacks a digital audio output.
This is a low-end Blu-ray player that plays Blu-ray movies, pure and simple. What it does, it does well, and holds great appeal for a particular swath of frugal consumers. That said, thrifty shoppers eager for access to a variety of streaming options and keen on the convenience of Wi-Fi connectivity should check out our other picks for best cheap Blu-ray players.
From $131 Good
There are plenty of reasons to like the Sony BDP-S580, including its price, built-in Wi-Fi, and support for 3D video. Experts and users praise the player for the wide selection of streaming services, although a few report occasional struggles when streaming Netflix video.
Although this inexpensive Blu-ray boasts a number of strong points, Sony BDP-S580 reviews by experts and users come with a few caveats. At Gadget Review and CNET, Sony BDP-S580 reviews state that the web browser and array of streaming services are most welcome, but the former cautions that attention must be paid when aiming the remote and the latter considers the interface "tedious" to use. Video performance comes in for high praise in a Sony BDP-S580 review by PC Mag, where 3D playback is commended for its smooth display and the absence of juddering effects. Speed is another stand-out quality, the Sony BDP-S580 review continues, noting that regular Blu-ray discs load in less than 5 seconds with Quick Start enabled, although BD-Live discs can take more than a painstakingly slow minute to load. Most Amazon Sony BDP-S580 reviews report that the BDP-S580 streams content well, although some users report experiencing problems streaming Netflix content and gripe about the lack of features such as closed captioning.
The Sony BDP-S580 (starting at $131, Amazon) has more input and output options than most low-cost Blu-ray players, including a component output along with the familiar HDMI and Ethernet ports and two USB ports. The player comes with built-in Wi-Fi and can play back 3D content. It supports Dolby True HD and DTS-HD and streaming services include Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Slacker, and Pandora.
Sony's BDP-S580 is a good, solid player at a reasonable price. It loads most Blu-ray discs very quickly, but be aware that BD-Live discs may take considerably longer. Although most users find that streaming performance is above average, several users report problems streaming Netflix content -- a common complaint about budget Blu-ray players in general.
Toshiba BDX2200 Review
From $85 Think Twice
Toshiba's cheap BDX2200 garners lots of criticism from users for its annoying tendency to freeze, particularly when trying to stream Netflix video. Others complain that the player is prone to break downs, is slow to load, and features a difficult user interface.
Toshiba's BDX2200 Blu-ray clocks in at less than $100, but Toshiba BDX2200 reviews indicate that experts and user are less than satisfied despite the player's low cost. The biggest gripe expressed in a Toshiba BDX2200 review by PC Mag is the unhurried pace at which this model loads Blu-ray discs -- often more than a minute from the time the disc is inserted until it's ready to play. The Toshiba BDX2200 review also notes that the player suffers from some judder during playback, which isn't normally a problem, even among budget Blu-rays. Users' Toshiba BDX2200 reviews at Amazon posit a variety of complaints, ranging from slow loading speed to freeze-ups during playback and streaming (often requiring a reboot) to the device's occasional refusal to recognize the loaded Blu-ray disc; users say these problems seem to get worse as time passes. Users shared similar grievances in Toshiba BDX2200 reviews at B&H, where one user reports the player stopped working altogether after a week. At Overstock, another Toshiba BDX2200 review says the player gave out after four days and another asserts the interface is not user-friendly.
The Toshiba BDX2200 (starting at $85, Amazon) lacks a built-in wireless connection but is wireless-ready, which means you can go the Wi-Fi route by adding a wireless LAN adapter to the network. Obviously, it has an Ethernet port for a wired connection to your network. The Toshiba BDX2200 provides access to a few streaming services, including Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, CinemaNow, and Pandora. There's also an HDMI port, and unlike most cheap Blu-ray players, this one comes with an SD card reader. It supports the usual audio standards, including Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS-HD.
Based on the Toshiba BDX2200 reviews we found, low price doesn't compensate for the operational weaknesses of this model. The number and variety of user complaints is a red flag for us. As our buying guide points out, there are more reliable budget players on the market.
Where to buy
Vizio VBR122 Review
From $120 Think Twice
Although consumers report the Vizio VBR122 is a cinch to set up, many say the streaming feature disappoints because the player often freezes up during playback. Users generally like the keyboard on the back side of the remote.
Vizio makes a lot of good, low-priced TVs but hasn't quite mastered the ability to produce a good, low-priced Blu-ray player. A Vizio VBR122 review at Tech Hive comments approvingly on the image quality and the remote control with a keyboard built into its back side. However, the review continues, the remote is small and feels uncomfortable in the hand and set up with this Blu-ray player is more difficult than with other models. Other flaws pointed out by Vizio VBR122 reviews include the comparatively slow load speeds and the lack of 3D support despite its $120 starting price. At Amazon and Walmart, consumers' Vizio VBR122 reviews indicate they, too, like the keyboard on the remote, which makes typing in search terms a snap, but many grouse that playback is unreliable: video often freezes, skips, appears ragged, or doesn't display at all; streaming services don't always work; and response time for online apps is slow. Some Vizio VBR122 reviews also assert that the player's lifespan is extremely limited, as in days or weeks.
The Vizio VBR122 (starting at $120, Amazon) features a built-in Wi-Fi connection as well as an HDMI port, a USB port, and an Ethernet port. You can also connect the player to your stereo system using the player's audio optical output. The player does not support 3D playback but provides access to a few streaming services, such as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Amazon, and YouTube. The player supports Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS-HD, among other common formats, for surround sound playback.
The profusion of user complaints about video freezing and other assorted snafus is enough to make us steer clear of this model. Moreover, the price seems high given the Vizio VBR122's performance record and lack of 3D support. You don't have to spend much more for a good 3D Blu-ray player, and if your interests are strictly along the lines of Blu-ray and DVD playback, you can spend quite a bit less for a more basic and reliable player.
Where to buy
Who doesn't love a good movie? Many of us still trek to the local megaplex on the weekends to see a show, but with a cheap Blu-ray player you can watch high-definition feature films from the comforts of home. Blu-ray players are the successors to DVD players, and the picture has never looked better. Blu-ray players were very expensive when they first appeared, but as with most electronics, prices on these devices dropped pretty quickly. Although top-end players sell at price points well north of $1,000, you can find a good cheap Blu-ray player well south of $150 and refurbished models for less than the lowest starting prices on new units.
Cheap Blu-ray Players Buying Guide
The top manufacturers of cheap Blu-ray players are the usual electronics heavyweights, including Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Pioneer, and Vizio. Our favorite cheap Blu-ray players are the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 (starting at $130) and the LG BP620 (starting at $139), both of which feature 3D playback, stream video well, and load movies quickly. The Sony BDP-S580 (starting at $131) and Panasonic DMP-BD75 (starting at $80) are two solid, cheap Blu-ray players; the former supports 3D playback and lots of streaming services, and the latter is a no-frills model that dishes up sharp-looking video at a shockingly low price. The Toshiba BDX2200 (starting at $85) and Vizio VBR122 (starting at $120) fall within our price range but don't pass muster because many users report they often freeze up when streaming video. If you're willing to spend big bucks on a high-end player, though, check out Oppo Digital's BDP-93 (starting at $500). It supports DVD-Audio, a format well loved by audiophiles, and experts say the audio and video quality are unmatched by any player costing less than $1,000.
Cheap Blu-ray players are fairly simple devices and don't have many features that distinguish one from another. That said, there are a few things to look for when comparison shopping. For example, many viewers now want a Blu-ray player that can stream video from services such as Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, and/or Amazon. All the models on our list of best cheap Blu-ray players include at least some streaming services, but if you favor a particular service, read the fine print to make sure the one you're targeting streams it. If you have or plan to get a 3D TV, you'll no doubt want a cheap Blu-ray player that supports 3D movies; cheap 3D Blu-ray players aren't terribly expensive, but they do cost more than players without this feature. Additionally, only some cheap Blu-ray players come with built-in Wi-Fi for wireless connections, though all can be hard-wired through an Ethernet port.
Apart from these characteristics, cheap Blu-ray players are more or less the same. They can all play and "upconvert" DVD movies as well as play audio CDs. They all support a variety of surround sound formats, and, according to the expert reviews we've seen, they all consistently play bright and clear video.
An important note to thrifty consumers: Blu-ray players are meant for high-definition TVs. If you don't own an HD set, you might want to hold off buying a Blu-ray player, cheap or otherwise, until you purchase the equipment that can show off content to its best advantage.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Blu-ray Player Reviews
The best reason to buy a cheap Blu-ray player? You get to enjoy movies at the highest video quality possible. Indeed, Blu-ray player reviews indicate that in terms of picture quality, there seems to be little difference among those we researched, even the cheapest models. We found that they all do an excellent job replaying video in 2D and those with 3D capability also perform well when playing 3D movies. As a Blu-ray players review of the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 (starting at $130) by CNET points out, features (for instance, which file formats are supported) and ease of use matter more than image quality when choosing a Blu-ray player because by this measure, at least, there's little discernible difference among current models. Consumers and other experts seem to agree -- not many Blu-ray player reviews discuss the devices' video prowess. Instead, the reviews offer general commentary about the visual display, using adjectives such as "excellent," "superb," and "awesome" without delving into detail. Complaints about the quality of video playback with the models we researched are rare, and when they do pop up, are nothing more than nitpicks.
Screen resolution has a lot to do with the quality of the image you see on your TV, and resolution of 1080p is about as good as it gets. Blu-ray movies look their best when played at a resolution of 1080p, so any budget Blu-ray player on the market today -- including all those we researched -- supports this resolution. DVDs normally play at 480p, but all Blu-ray players can "upconvert," or manipulate, the DVD to a higher resolution, such as 1080i or 1080p, which makes DVDs look even better on Blu-ray players than on DVD players. (See our buying guide to LCD TVs for a primer on resolution.)
Blu-ray Players Speed.A topic often raised by experts and consumers in Blu-ray player reviews concerns how quickly the device starts playing a movie once the disc goes into the tray. Although CNET maintains that speed has ceased to be a defining performance attribute among the newest Blu-ray players, some are definitely faster than others. It's typical for Blu-ray players to require 30 seconds or more to load a disc, and Blu-ray Live discs take even longer (perhaps more than a minute) due to their extra features. Loading times for the models we researched vary. Oppo's Digital BDP-93, a mid-market model starting at $500, may be the fastest-loading machine of the bunch; an expert from HomeTheaterReview.com says it was consistently faster than other comparably-priced players tested, especially when loading 3D Blu-ray discs. Back in the budget range, the LG BP620 (starting at $139) proved to be a comparative speed demon; a Blu-ray players review by PC Mag reports this model can load a disc in a mere 20 seconds. The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 hit the 30-second target, according to a Blu-ray players review by Techradar. Ditto for the Panasonic DMP-BD75 (starting at $80), although a Blu-ray players review by Pocket Lint reports load speed of 19 seconds with one test movie. PC Mag says the Toshiba BDX2200 (starting at $85) has enough horsepower to fire up discs in about 28 seconds but adds that a Blu-ray Live movie takes more than double that time (about one minute and 14 seconds) to get going. Loading time for the Sony BDP-S580 (starting at $131) tested out at a leisurely 42 seconds, notes CNET, although the Vizio VBR122 (starting at $120) turns out to be the ultimate slowpoke; Tech Hive found that this model needed 54 seconds to load a simple Blu-ray disc, which is truly sluggish by today's standards.
Blu-ray Streaming, Wi-Fi
The current crop of Blu-ray players boast more features than past models even as prices continue to plunge -- a clear win/win for consumers. The most important new features you'll see are support for 3D Blu-ray movies, Wi-Fi Blu-rays, and a proliferation of Blu-ray streaming services.
Blu-ray Streaming.Perhaps the most popular new feature cropping up in Blu-ray players is support for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, and Pandora. These services let consumers stream videos or music to their players directly from the Internet. All of the models we researched support Blu-ray streaming services, but the specific services vary from model to model. If you favor a particular Blu-ray streaming service, make sure the player can accommodate your interests. Blu-ray streaming relies on either an Ethernet connection or a wireless connection to move video through an Internet router to the player. All the models we researched feature an Ethernet port for wired connectivity. Three of our picks for best cheap Blu-rays -- the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, LG BP620, and Sony BDP-S580 -- are Wi-Fi Blu-rays with support for wireless streaming right out of the box. The Vizio VBR122 also qualifies as a Wi-Fi Blu-ray, as do two other models we researched, the Samsung BD-D5700 (starting at $129; $80 refurbished) and Sony BDP-S590 (starting at $148). The Panasonic DMP-BD75 requires a wired Ethernet connection to stream video and the Toshiba BDX2200 is "wireless-ready," which means you'll need a separate wireless LAN adapter before you can wirelessly connect to your home network; alternatively, just use the Ethernet port.
Whether a Wi-Fi Blu-ray excels at wireless streaming depends partly on the device but also on the speed and quality of the network connection and router in your home. Hiccups in the network connection will mar Blu-ray streaming regardless how much the player cost. If you have problems with Blu-ray streaming via a Wi-Fi connection, using an Ethernet cable may resolve the problem.
That said, the reviews we read suggest that some Wi-Fi Blu-rays stream content better than others, although as noted above, it's hard to know the source of the problem. CNET is impressed with the performance of the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, a Wi-Fi Blu-ray, when streaming Netflix. At Amazon, users say wireless streaming seems to work seamlessly and setting up the DMP-BDT220 with a home network is easy. Consumers who posted reviews of the LG BP620 at Best Buy likewise assert this Wi-Fi Blu-ray delivers good-looking content and Netflix streaming is problem-free.
Other Wi-Fi Blu-ray players we researched seem to struggle to some degree with wireless streaming. The Vizio VBR122 gets dinged in some reviews at Walmart and Amazon for slow streaming and freezing up when playing Netflix. Samsung's feature-rich BD-D5700 is generally well regarded by experts and users but comments posted at Best Buy and Crutchfield indicate that the player sometimes falters (e.g., choppiness, lagging, freezing) when streaming Netflix. And while some reviews at Amazon say wireless streaming with the Sony BDP-S580 is adequate, others complain about navigational and operational challenges.
Using an Ethernet connection for Blu-ray streaming is usually pretty reliable but not guaranteed. Some consumers report on Newegg that Netflix playback with the Panasonic DMP-BD75 is slow and occasionally freezes up. We noted the most griping about Blu-ray streaming problems in consumer reviews of the Toshiba BDX2200. Many posts at Amazon and B&H complain that the player freezes, especially when streaming Netflix video.
Blu-ray Players Inputs/Outputs.Blu-ray players have one primary function: to transfer audio and video from the player to another source, usually a TV, but also to a home stereo receiver or home theater system. Blu-ray players don't require as many outputs as other electronics devices that connect to still other devices -- such as a TV to a DVD player, VCR, and game system -- but all budget Blu-rays have at least a single HDMI output for transferring video and audio from a Blu-ray movie to a TV. Most Blu-ray players also include other types of outputs, such as component or composite video outputs. If your TV lacks an HDMI input, you can use the Blu-ray player's component outputs (if it has them); among the best budget Blu-rays on our list, only the Sony BDP-S580 features a component output. Component video connections are a little better than composite in terms of resolution, but still only support 1080i or 720p, so turn to this option only if your TV maxes out at those resolutions. As a matter of last resort, you can connect a Blu-ray player to a TV using a composite output, but this is the lowest resolution video connection between the two devices; the Sony BDP-S580, LG BP620, Panasonic DMP-BDT220 and DMP-BD75, and Toshiba BDX2200 come with composite outputs.
Some people like to play audio from a Blu-ray movie through a home theater system or stereo receiver, so look for a budget Blu-ray player with an audio output (either an optical audio output or coaxial audio output) to enable a direct connection; the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, LG BP620, Sony BDP-S580, and Vizio VBR122 meet this standard. Some Blu-ray players like the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, LG BP620, and Sony BDP-S580, also have good old analog stereo audio outputs that you can use to connect to your stereo.
Blu-ray Sound, Formats
A Blu-ray player's format support for video is of primary importance, no doubt, but many users also connect these devices to surround sound home theater systems for a truly immersive movie experience. There are several surround sound formats, such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD. These formats provide high-quality, multichannel audio for home theater systems comprising several speakers, such as a 5.1 audio system (five speakers and one subwoofer). All the players on our list support several surround sound formats. If you're connecting a Blu-ray player directly to a TV, you won't benefit from multichannel audio support because the TV plays stereo sound through its two speakers. However, if you have a home theater system, you'll appreciate the multichannel audio that the Dolby Digital and DTS formats provide.
Blu-ray Players Format Support.Blu-ray players are versatile little machines that aren't restricted to playing Blu-ray movies. All Blu-ray players are also compatible with commercially-produced DVDs and audio CDs, and frugal consumers with libraries of DVDs invariably report improved image quality (clarity, sharpness, color) when these older-format discs are played on a Blu-ray. One user, for example, who concedes in a post on Amazon to lagging behind the technological curve, says playback quality of DVDs and audio with CDs on the Panasonic DMP-BD75 is totally groovy. In the budget end of the market, Blu-ray format support is fairly wide ranging. Most players support a variety of formats, such as dual-layer Blu-ray discs, recordable Blu-ray discs, recordable DVDs, and recordable CDs. In other words, you can use an inexpensive Blu-ray to play nearly all the content you have on disc. Additionally, three of our top picks -- the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, LG BP620, and Sony BDP-S580 -- support 3D Blu-ray playback.
Blu-ray format support by all the players on our list also includes DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), which lets you send certain media files from your PC through your home network for playback on the Blu-ray. Devices that are DLNA-compatible can play a variety of photo, audio, and video formats, such as MP3 files, MP4 files, MVK video files, or WMA files. Blu-ray format support typically extends to common file formats such as CD audio and JPEG file types, and most players support additional file types, such as ACC and MKV files, as well. But Blu-ray format support varies quite a bit, so check the manufacturer's specifications for the particulars. Note, though, that devices capable of playing specialty discs, such as DVD-Audio or SA-CDs, aren't cheap; the Oppo Digital BDP-93 features such Blu-ray format support, but this player is several times more expensive than our best budget picks.
Blu-ray Players Profile.A Blu-ray player profile is a set of features and specifications that a player must have in order to qualify for a specific profile designation, such as Profile 1.0 or Profile 2.0. These specifications are determined by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a consortium of electronics manufacturers that oversees the development of Blu-ray technology and counts Pioneer, Samsung, Dell, Apple, and Sony among its members. Not so long ago, consumers had to pay close attention to the profile supported by the Blu-ray player on their shopping list, but this is largely a concern of the past. Any player on the market today, including all of the models we researched, adhere to the Profile 2.0 specification. Profile 2.0 Blu-ray players support a couple of special Blu-ray movie features, namely BonusView and BD-Live. In order to qualify for a Profile 2.0 designation, a Blu-ray player must support either a wired or wireless Internet connection and provide for either 1GB of onboard storage or 1GB of storage through an external connection, like a USB thumb drive.
Additional Products We Considered
Oppo Digital BDP-93 Review
At $500, the Oppo Digital BDP-93 may deter bargain shoppers, but it's an exceptional Blu-ray player for the price. More than one Oppo Digital BDP-93 review praises the BDP-93 for its outstanding color quality, contrast, and black levels. The player loads discs very quickly, according to reviews, and it's easy to set up and operate. An expert Oppo Digital BDP-93 review at Home Theater Review gripes about the limited streaming video services offered by the BDP-93 but nonetheless assigns the player a top rating. This Oppo Digital BDP-93 review says the model is well-built (it boasts a steel chassis and aluminum front panel), the internal mechanisms are very quiet, and the remote control has just the right amount of responsiveness. Consumers who posted Oppo Digital BDP-93 reviews at Amazon agree wholeheartedly; more than 80 percent of the 200-plus consumers who commented about the Oppo Digital BDP-93 five it a five-star billing. One user after another gushes over the superb video and audio quality, the ease of set up, and the sturdy build. We found little grumbling about the minimal streaming options but a bit about the price tag -- several users grouse that image quality isn't any different from what you see on cheaper models.
The Oppo Digital BDP-93 (starting at $500, Amazon) has more features than you'll find in a budget Blu-ray. For starters, there are two HDMI ports instead of the usual one, as well as two USB ports, an Ethernet port, an external wireless adapter to connect to your wireless network, 2GB of internal storage, and an eSata port that lets you connect an external hard drive to the player if 2GB of storage just isn't enough. This model can play back just about any kind of disc you set in the tray, including SACDs and DVD-Audio discs, formats that appeal to audiophiles and support for which is fairly rare. Of course, the BDP-93 is also a 3D Blu-ray player. If there's a weak spot, you'll find it in the rather small number of streaming services the BDP-93 supports, currently limited to Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Blockbuster, and Pandora.
Folks who watch lots of high-def movies at home often have a fancy home theater system. The Oppo Digital BDP-93 will fit in nicely with all set-ups but the priciest. The paltry streaming options are a bit of a drawback, but if you're looking for high-end video quality without spending thousands of dollars on equipment, the BDP-93 is the Blu-ray player for you.
Samsung BD-D5700 Review
The Samsung BD-D5700 is, by most accounts, a strong contender in the Blu-ray field but for one flaw -- it seems to have a bit of trouble streaming Netflix shows. Expert Samsung BD-D5700 reviews are upbeat. At Tech Hive, the Samsung BD-D5700 review praises the easy-to-use interface and relatively quick loading. A Samsung BD-D5700 review at PC Mag terms it among the best of the 2011 crop. Picture quality gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up in consumers' Samsung BD-D5700 reviews, as does the user-friendly operation, but we also read a lot of complaints about the player's struggles to stream Netflix videos. Samsung BD-D5700 reviews at Amazon frequently cite this problem, as do reviews at Best Buy and Crutchfield one consumer who claims to stream Netflix without any difficulty speculates that the problems experienced by others may stem from weaknesses in the home network rather than in the Blu-ray.
The Samsung BD-D5700 (starting at $129; $80 refurbished, Amazon) comes with built-in Wi-Fi as well as an Ethernet port, a USB port, and an audio optical digital out port. The player runs several apps (including a Sudoku game) in addition to supporting popular streaming services such as Netflix, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Vudu. The BD-D5700 also supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD and other common surround sound formats. There is no support for 3D playback.
This is a solid Blu-ray player if you're not interested in 3D video and you're not deterred by reports about weak streaming of Netflix. (A wired connection or fast wireless router may be solutions.) This model seems to be at the end of its run and cheaper refurbished models are easy to find. All things considered, the Samsung BD-D5700 may be a good deal for you.
Where to buy
Sony BDP-S590 Review
With lots of features to its credit, the Sony BDP-S590 has lots of appeal. But some Sony BDP-S590 reviews indicate it suffers from a problem common to lower-cost Blu-ray players: difficulty streaming wireless video. One Sony BDP-S590 review at Gadget Review approvingly cites its many features, including a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control, and concludes that 3D Blu-ray playback is excellent. Most consumers likewise report good things about this player. At Walmart, for example, Sony BDP-S590 reviews say the player loads discs quickly, the user interface is easy to navigate, and the player is easy to set up. Sony BDP-S590 reviews at Best Buy mention that movies look fantastic and others posted at Amazon comment on the player's responsiveness and rich, vibrant playback. And yet, we read a number of reports by users who posted Sony BDP-S590 reviews at all of these sites asserting that the player freezes up when streaming video.
The Sony BDP-S590 (starting at $148, Amazon) is a 3D Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi. It boasts two USB ports instead of the usual one, and includes an HDMI port and digital audio output as well as an Ethernet connection. This Sony model supports DTS-HD, Dolby Digital TrueHD, and other surround sound formats.
Sony's BDP-S590 is a deceny, full-featured Blu-ray player. Some users report problems with its ability to stream video, but we found relatively fewer gripes about this issue than with other models. The Sony BDP-S590 is a tad pricier than our top budget picks, but not by much. Sony fans will like this one.