The initial problem with Blu-ray players was the high price being asked. With DVD players costing as little as £30 these days, asking consumers to pay £300 to £500 for something that, on the surface, looks the same was a hiding to nothing. Luckily, however, the cost has fallen recently -- and while Blu-ray players are still expensive, they are at least in the sub-£200 bracket now.
So, what should you be looking for when you buy a Blu-ray player? One factor, which is more important than it sounds, is the amount of time it takes a player to load the disc and start playing the movie. We've always been keen to point out players' shortcomings in this regard, and we have a page with the popular player load times listed.
If your player takes a long time to load discs, you'll probably spend more time shouting at it while your friends/significant other/family all tut and start to look bored. This can be embarrassing, so long load times should be avoided where possible.
You might also keep an eye out for extra features too. It's not uncommon for DVD players to support DivX. This is terrific if you have a heap of files in that format, and many people have managed to amass at least some from their time on the Internet.
Because Blu-ray players are built to handle HD video, however, it's becoming common to throw in playback support for MPEG-4 video at HD levels. You may also find that MKV file support is included, which is terrific news.See below for our best buys.
Ultimately, the Samsung BD-P4600 may be sunk by its price. Sony and Panasonic both have excellent models on the market that cost less and have a more traditional form factor. But that's not to say the BD-P4600 isn't a great player, because it is. We love the speed with which it operates, and we also like the picture and sound quality. Overall, it's a good package and certainly a great choice for Samsung TV owners who have their set mounted on a wall Read more
Reviewed on 10 March 2009
The LG BD370 is a terrific Blu-ray player. Support for both YouTube and media files like DivX and MPEG-4 plays a huge part in our love for this machine. MKV playback is really the icing on the cake, taking the BD370 from being a good Blu-ray player to a very good all-rounder Read more
Reviewed on 3 April 2009
The Samsung BD-P3600 is a terrific Blu-ray player and the fastest on the market, loading discs faster than the PlayStation 3. We like pretty much everything about it, apart from its slightly limited codec support for MKV and DivX-HD playback. Here, the machine is bested by LG's BD370, which plays everything and looks gorgeous too. The BD-P3600 is still a worthwhile addition to your home cinema though, especially if you have an older AV receiver that needs help understanding lossless audio codecs Read more
Reviewed on 3 April 2009
The Philips BDP3000/05 lacks DTS-HD MA decoding and, annoyingly, requires that you supply a 1GB USB memory stick in order to access BD-Live content. But it's well-built, speedy to load discs and delivers good picture quality. All in all, it's a good budget buy Read more
Reviewed on 28 September 2009