Blu-ray players are finally being produced and bought in the kind of numbers that means they are well within range of most budgets; there has really never been a better time to buy. Whether you are looking for crystal-clear HD pictures, or want to take advantage of your TV’s 3D technology, there are a huge number of choices available, all competing for your attentions.
With feature sets that would once add hundreds of pounds to the cost of a new Blu-ray player now standard in today’s releases, you are getting more bang for your buck than ever before, but of course, the downside to that is the need to sort the wheat from the chaff.
We’ve had a look at some of the Blu-ray player releases from the past year and come up with five of our favourites, so if you’re in the market for one we can guarantee excellent quality and good value, whatever your budget. So, in no particular order, here are our best Blu-ray players of 2011…
The Samsung BD-D7500 lays claim to being the world’s smallest Blu-ray player and is an extremely stylish, thin and lightweight Blu-ray player that will augment any home cinema setup – and you can even mount it on the wall should you wish.
There’s integrated Wi-Fi which enables you delve into Samsung’s excellent SmartHub Internet service or hook up to your other networked gear with ease. it isn’t the quickest to load your films, but certainly way above average speeds and you get 3D compatibility as well.
Picture quality is excellent in 2D or 3D and the BD-D7500 attempt at converting 2D to 3D works as well as we have seen so far. There’s good media playback, so you can play your AVI and MP4 files for video and mp3 and WMA for audio. There are better Blu-ray players in terms of functionality, but the stylish design is an attractive pull.
Buy it now – Samsung BD-D7500
LG Electronics BD670
OK, so the LG BD670 Blu-ray player may not be the prettiest device in the world, but if you don’t mind the plainess there’s an awful lot on offer here. Available from as low as £140, you can expect connections for HDMI, Ethernet, a single USB, optical digital audio, component and phono AV.
Entertainment-wise, you can take your pick from online content in the form of Internet radio, YouTube, the BBC iPlayer and access to LG’s app store. File support is OK, although the BD670 won’t let you play your WAV and FLAC audio files.
Picture quality is excellent, with sharp images offered in HD and SD playback, while you can expect good 3D connectivity, too. At £140, the LG BD670 offers a tremendous amount of value and although still a considerable investment, is available to most budgets.
Buy it now – LG Electronics BD670
A couple of years ago, the PlayStation 3 offered incredible value, being one of the cheapest Blu-ray players available strapped to one of the most powerful games consoles on the market. It’s different now, of course, but whilst it’s true that Blu-ray player prices have shrunk since then, if you love playing games and watching HBlu-ray movies, the PS3 still offers tremendous value.
The PS3 features a slimline design, quiet operation, a highly intuitive interface, built-in Wi-Fi, a built-in web browser and a Blu-ray player, as well as a free online gaming service and generous hardrive space.
In terms of HD performance, the PS3 offers excellent image quality in films and games, and can also upscale your old DVD collection with some style. It’s not perfect, but there is no doubt that if you want the best option for games AND movies, the PS3 should be your first, and last, port of call.
Buy it now – PS3
Another Blu-ray player in our list that offers a tremendous feature set for a very accessible price, the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 sports built-in Wi-Fi, super-quick loading and access to a quite brilliant collection of online services.
Panasonic’s VieraCast is a real star here, with direct access to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, and you can also watch movies on YouTube, watch music videos and movie trailers and even play games.
Picture quality is bang on in SD and HD, while the 3D performance is great as well; you can expect nice and stable imagery with well-handled movement and true colours all round. In fact, the DMP-BDT210 is so good – and so well-priced -that if we had a favourite for this year’s best Blu-ray player, this would be it.
Buy it now – Panasonic DMP-BDT210
For those of you with a higher budget, the Denon DBP-2012UD is well worth your consideration. At around £600, it is not cheap, but if you want the superb 3D Blu-ray experience that a true videophile desires, then that investment will still offer excellent value.
The performance of the Denon DBP-2012UD is, quite frankly, amazing. The range of settings which you can adjust to your liking results in an incredible picture quality, with perfect, deep blacks the undercoat to lush, realistic colours and hues that will suit any conditions the light in your room can throw at it.
You will need an excellent TV to get the most out of the experience and we were a little narked by the non-appearance of Wi-Fi capabilities (there is an Ethernet port for connecting to the Internet), but for pure, visceral 3D Blu-ray, the Denon DBP-2012UD is hard to beat at this price.
Buy it now – Denon DBP-2012UD