Back in the day, Blu-Ray players were considered to be exotic pieces of gear, and like any exotic technology in its infancy, they were actually quite expensive. As time passed by and technology made leaps forward, things changed dramatically to our advantage as consumers, i.e. Blu-Ray players became more affordable and better than ever before. So, if you’re looking for the best Blu-Ray player you’ve arrived in the right place.
This article is aimed to help you choose what’s best for your home or business, whether we’re talking about the best streaming Blu-Ray player, a reliable Blu-Ray player under $100 or portable Blu-Ray player. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got it covered, as we combed the internet looking for the best Blu-Ray players available in 2018. If you want to save both time and money, keep reading, as you’re in for a real treat.
How to choose the Best Blu-Ray Player
Modern Blu-Ray players are very sophisticated pieces of gear, and the best of them are not only capable of playing 4K/UHD content, but can also connect to your tablet or smartphone, deliver audiophile grade audio output, or to stream content from YouTube, Netflix and other popular internet-based streaming services.
Before getting down to “business”, you should decide what you’re looking for, whether we’re talking about portable, budget or high-end options. However, regardless of what you’re looking for, whether you’re on the prowl for a Blu-Ray player capable of downloading apps, so you can stream your favorite shows or music from YouTube or Netflix, or you’re just aiming at spending under $100 for a basic/entry level bare bones budget-friendly player, this article will help you with getting the best bang for your buck.
Now, here’s what to look for in a Blu-Ray Player, depending on your particular needs and your budget:
Ultra High Definition, also known as 4K, is becoming the “new normal”, as it slowly but surely replaces the classic Full HD 1080p video format. 4K TV sets and displays are now increasingly common in people’s households, as this format offers 4 times the detail (as in the image has 4x the number of pixels) of the “old” Full HD 1080p technology. Native 4K Blu-Ray players are the way to go, as they offer the latest standard of image quality.
However, a Blu-Ray player featuring 4K (3840 x 2160p) upscaling means that it is capable of converting lower resolution material, let’s say a Full HD 1080p movie already in your collection, into a higher definition, provided you also have a 4K capable TV to enjoy the higher resolution. Even if the upscaling process is far from being perfect, it’s a nice feature to have in your Blu-Ray player, especially if you own a lot of low-tech (as in low-res) content.
Since 3D capable TVs are all over the place, getting a 3D capable Blu-Ray player would mean you won’t have to go to a movie theater to enjoy 3D movies anymore, i.e. if you’re into 3D flicks, look for a Blu-Ray player featuring active 3D technology.
If you’re into content streaming, or you just want your home theater system to be “internet of things” compatible, you should look for a Blu-Ray player capable of connecting to the internet. There are 2 possibilities to connect your Blu-Ray player to the internet: via Wi-Fi or with a network cable. Keep in mind that not all Blu-Ray players can connect to the internet wirelessly, i.e. a Wi-Fi capable gizmo would be a little more expensive.
If you’re wondering why should you connect your Blu-Ray player to the internet, the answer is: streaming applications, quick software updates, or accessing extra content available online for certain discs, which are all pretty neat options to have.
Streaming Applications for Blu-Ray
A number of mid-range/high-end Blu-Ray players will allow you to stream online content from your favorite provider directly to your TV set, whether we’re talking about Netflix, YouTube or Pandora. This is a very important feature to look after in a Blu-Ray player if you’re an internet streaming aficionado.
Keep in mind that using these services will require you to have an account or even a subscription (Netflix) with the content providers. Also, Blu-Ray player manufacturers usually provide different streaming options, so look out what specific applications are available on a specific model before purchasing it.
Finally, if you already have a big DVD collection, look for a player that offers the best rating for DVD SD (standard definition) video quality. Not all Blu-Ray players are created equal in this regard, even if all of them are perfectly capable of playing DVDs.
1. Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Player
While 4K gear is still pricey, you don’t have to break the bank anymore to play UHD discs. Sony proves that with the UBP-X700, an affordable option for film freaks that provides amazing clarity and Hi-Res audio.
This is another player that gives you the best of both worlds with UHD playback. Dolby Vision and HDR 10 content looks crisp and colorful, but you can stream media with this one as well. The Wi-Fi connection is speedy, and there’s also Ethernet port if you prefer a wired connection. Throw in dual HDMI ports, and you’ve got yourself a connected player with a streamlined profile.
This UHD player is 12.3 inches wide and 8.5 inches deep so it won’t take up much space on your shelf. Another perk of this player is the Hi-Res audio which adds another layer of depth to your films, and it can handle everything from .AAC to .WMA along with photos and GIFs. It’s 3D capable and has an excellent upscaling system capable of 60p as well.
The Sony UBP-X700 gives you a lot of bang for your buck without many drawbacks of other budget-friendly players. The fact you get Dolby and HDR 10 is a bonus as is the audio quality provided you have the proper connections. While the overall performance isn’t on par with flagship players, it’s hard to argue with the price or the picture quality.
- Compact design
- Dolby Vision & HDR support
- The price tag
- Build quality could be better
2. Sony BDPS6700
The Sony BDPS6700 is a 3D capable Blu-Ray player with built-in super Wi-Fi (dual band). Being an older model, the BDPS6700 looks and feels like a budget model, yet in terms of performance, it’s a true Sony product, even if it lacks 4K native resolution. However, this Sony offers 4K upscaling instead for your old Blu-Ray collection, together with 3D streaming.
Due to its Wi-Fi module, the Sony BDPS6700 gives you access to popular streaming services and apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu. This player is compact, sleek and definitely smart, and it offers excellent value for money, provided you can live without native 4K support.
- great image quality
- wireless music streaming via Bluetooth
- dual-core processor, dual-band Wi-Fi
- ease of use
- screen mirroring, front USB
- lacks support for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs
- it’s fluttery with iOS gear
3. Philips BDP7501
The Philips BDP7501 is a very compact 4K/UHD Blu-Ray player capable of streaming via its built-in Wi-Fi module. If you’re looking for an affordable no fuss/no frill 4K Blu-Ray player, the Philips BDP7501 pops in mind instantly.
This player supports playback of 3D Blu-Ray discs, DVD and CD and comes with internal DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and Dolby TrueHD. The BDP7501 also provides access to 4K versions of YouTube and Netflix and can play various files via DLNA or USB.
- streams Netflix and YouTube in 4K
- uniquely compact and functional design
- HDMI audio/video separation
- does exactly what it says on the box
- basic OS
- limited features/capabilities
4. OPPO UDP-203
The Oppo UDP-203 comes with a hefty price tag, yet it’s any videophile’s wet dream. If you’re looking for premium build quality and excellent overall performance in a no-nonsense Blu-Ray player, the Oppo UDP-203 is very easy to recommend, provided you can afford it. To put it simply, this player has “high-end” written all over it, and delivers super connectivity on top of state of the art audio and video quality, via a full 7.1 analog output, which is kind of rare nowadays.
There’s also an HDMI port for connecting streaming players and Dolby Vision disc playback, yet, strangely enough, despite being very expensive, the Oppo UDP-203 (almost defiantly) lacks built-in streaming features. Long story short, if you’re looking for a reference Blu-Ray player without “complications”, the Oppo UDP-203 would make for the perfect addition to your home theater rig.
- supports Dolby Vision/3D/most disc-based standards
- stellar image/sound quality, superb connectivity
- plays virtually any format
- very expensive
- lacks basic streaming features
- no headphone output
5. Sony BDPS3700
The Sony BDPS3700 makes for a low-cost Blu-Ray player which would make for a nice addition to your home cinema setup, provided you’re on a tight budget. Truth be told, this can be described as Sony’s budget Blu-Ray player, yet it offers good performance and lots of features at a very affordable price tag.
Even if it’s an older model, the Sony BDPS3700 can stream from over 300 apps via Wi-Fi HD streaming. You can also instantly stream and enjoy PlayStation 3 games courtesy of its PlayStation Now feature. Needless to say, the BDPS3700 is capable of playing Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs. Finally, there’s HDMI and a USB port, to connect your gear and your TV, and also a digital coax.
- Full HD 1080p Blu-ray Disc playback & DVD upscaling
- great upscaling capabilities for an entry-level device
- good contrast and smooth motion
- above average picture quality
- plays in the “best bang for the buck” category and wins easy
- audio quality is not the best in class
- no 4K
6. LG UP870
The LG UP870 the definition of a barebones/affordable and 3D/HDR capable Blu-Ray player, boasting lots of features at a very affordable price, hence the “Art of the Deal” moniker.
Considering its relatively low price for a UHD device, the LG UP870 offers great value for the money asked. If you don’t require a Wi-Fi capable Blu-Ray player, as the LG UP870 unfortunately lacks a built-in Wi-Fi module, this player really has it where it counts: amazing image quality and lighting fast disc-loading speeds, i.e. superlative performance.
Basically, this is a no-nonsense Blu-Ray player, sans Wi-Fi and streaming apps. However, if you already have a Smart-TV set, you don’t actually require app functionality from your Blu-Ray player, especially if you don’t want to break the bank for useless features. In this case, the LG UP870 has your name on it.
- 4K UHD Plus upscaling
- 3D disc playback
- amazing image quality, best in the industry disc loading speeds
- great value for money
- lacks Wi-Fi connectivity
- there are no streaming apps
- no Dolby Vision
7. Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 Universal Disc Player
4K Blu-Ray players have become more popular over the past few years, which makes it tough to weed out the best from the rest. The Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 is a player at the top of the food chain, and while it sports a hefty price tag, it’s built for AV connoisseurs.
The UDP-LX500 is a “Universal” disc player which means it can handle UHD Blu-Rays with ease along with every other format under the sun. That includes 3D discs, DVD-R and the classic compact disk. It also has a USB slot to go along with a slew of ports with two HDMI 2’s, Ethernet, optical, RS-232C just to name a few.
As this is a premium 4K player, you’ll get HDR 10 and Dolby Vision along with 36-bit deep color. There are presets for both SDR and HDR modes, but also a number of adjustments if you want to fine-tune your videos. The player provides jitter-less audio as well and has a 6-layered mainboard with a three-block internal layout to boot.
Tech specs aside, this UHD Blu-Ray player receives high marks across the board and handles both video and audio like a champ. The only knock is a lack of smart features, which means you can’t load up Pandora or Netflix or stream wirelessly with this one. The Pioneer UDP-LX500 Universal Disc Player is backed by a 3-year warranty.
- 36-bit color
- Built like a tank
- Supports a wide variety of formats
- No wireless/smart features
8. Sony UBP-X800
The Sony UBP-X800 is a 4K native Blu-Ray player which offers a high end/solid feel and design, together with top-notch playback quality. Besides its premium vibe, the Sony UBP-X800 also has it where it counts, being capable of both playing and streaming (Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube) in 4K HDR, together with playing almost any file format or disc. There are separate audio and video HDMI outputs, with high resolution audio for audiophile types, the likes of X object based surround, DTS and Dolby Atmos.
The Sony UBP-X800 comes with built-in wireless/wired network connections, along with a Bluetooth module that supports AAC/LDAC to stream audio to various devices (headphones, smartphones etc). Amazon Video, Netflix, Miracast screen mirroring technology and VUDU are integrated, and the player supports high-res audio via USB, disc and DLNA, while offering Sony’s proprietary DSEE HX upscaling technology, which improves the quality of lower-res audio files, like MP3s.
- first-class 4K image quality
- impressive workmanship
- audiophile-grade sound quality, DVD audio/SACD support
- excellent design
- fast at loading apps
- lacks Dolby Vision HDR
- there are no analog audio outputs
9. Samsung UBD-M9500/ZA
The Samsung UBD-M9500 is the company’s high-end 4K Blu-Ray player. Even if it doesn’t support 3D (for most people I know, including customers of installers, this is a moot point, as they don’t care about it anymore), it comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a$400 machine: a plethora of streaming options, the likes of Amazon, Netflix and YouTube, 4K HDR streaming capabilities, dual HDMI outputs and, most importantly, awesome picture quality.
The Samsung UBD-M9500 makes for the company’s second-gen UHD/4K Blu-Ray player, built to deliver excellent value and performance, and judging from its generous streaming capabilities, it’s aimed at heavy Amazon or Netflix users. At the time of its launching back in 2017, this Blu-Ray player was Samsung’s flagship, boasting a sleek and minimalist design, with an excellent (yet camouflaged) OLED display and a sculpted concave look, to match Samsung’s curved TV’s.
It supports Bluetooth headsets and comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter plus an Ethernet jack, an optical digital audio output, a single USB port on the front panel for playing content (audio or video) from external streaming devices, and a pair of HDMI 2.0a outputs in the back. Strangely enough, there are zero analog outputs, neither video nor audio.
- built-in Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity
- excellent streaming options, including Amazon, Netflix and YouTube 4K HDR streaming
- Blu-Ray to mobile via Samsung Apps, Private Cinema Mode, screen mirroring
- DLNA media streaming, UHD Playback, supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD
- easy to set up, lots of multimedia features, great interface and remote
- no 3D support
- lacks Dolby Vision
- no DVD/SACD audio supports