Choosing the Best Blu-ray Player in 2018: Buying Guide & Reviews

Choosing the best Blu-ray player
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These days there are many ways to watch our favorite movies and TV shows. But, while some methods may be more convenient, you can’t beat the quality of watching a movie on Blu-ray.

Some people believe Blu-ray technology is obsolete. Are you kidding me? The best Blu-ray player still provides a top-notch picture quality and the best audio available. If you have a great home theater system, you need to have a Blu-ray player at the heart of it.

In this guide, I will look at the different options you have when buying a Blu-ray player. I will then review some of my favorite models that are well worth considering.

Finally, I will give you a buying guide, so you can be confident of buying a top Blu-ray player for your home.

Top 10 Blu-ray Players Comparison Table

Image Model HDR? HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Out
OPPO UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 / Dolby Vision 2 / 1 1 / 1 Check Price
Sony UBP-X700 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 / Dolby Vision 2 / 0 0 / 1 Check Price
Samsung UBD-M8500 UHD Blu-Ray Player HDR10 1 / 0 1 / 0 Check Price
LG UP870 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 1 / 0 1 / 0 Check Price
Sony BDP-S6700 Blu-Ray Player No 1 / 0 0 / 1 Check Price
OPPO UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 / Dolby Vision 2 / 1 1 / 1 Check Price
Cambridge Audio CXUHD UHD Universal Player HDR10 / Dolby Vision 2 / 1 1 / 1 Check Price
Philips BDP-7502/F7 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 / Dolby Vision 2 / 0 1 / 0 Check Price
Panasonic DMP-UB200 UHD Blu-ray Player HDR10 1 / 0 1 / 0 Check Price
Samsung BD-J6300 Blu-Ray Player No 1 / 0 0 / 1 Check Price

What is Blu-ray Technology?

For those of you who are new to this area, let's do a quick run-through of the basics. Samsung released the first consumer Blu-ray player in 2006. It was the first player that could read the new Blu-ray disc format.

A Blu-ray disc is an optical storage disc like a standard DVD. It's the same size as a CD or DVD and looks pretty much the same on the outside. However, it won't play in a conventional CD or DVD player.

The laser inside a Blu-ray player is different from a normal DVD device. It has a blue colored laser (hence the name), which has a shorter wavelength than the traditional red laser found in DVD and CD players. The reduction in wavelength allows it to focus on a smaller area, meaning the data on the disc can be stored closer together.

Why is this useful? It means we can store more data on a disc.

So, the advantage of a standard Blu-ray disc is that it can hold about six times the amount of data compared to a dual-layer DVD. That means, 25GB on a single layer and 50 GB on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Ok, big deal, so why is that important? Well, it means a Blu-ray disc can store video and audio in higher resolution formats that won't fit on a DVD. This allows you to watch a movie in high-quality Full HD 1080p. 

1920 x 1080 HDTV Resolution1920 x 1080 HDTV Resolution

Standard Blu-rays support a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz and the large disc space allows for less compression on the disc. This will look better than streaming services or terrestrial TV which are compromised by the compression they use to deliver the content.

But, that's not all. The soundtrack can be stored in lossless multi-channel formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You won't get these from your streaming app.

Bottom line? It looks and sounds fantastic!

With the advent of Ultra HD Blu-ray in 2016, Blu-ray has gone to another level. You can still buy standard Blu-ray players and discs, but Ultra HD Blu-ray technology allows you to store even more data on a disc. Up to 100 GB.

This means they can hold all the extra data required for displaying high-quality 4K ultra high-resolution pictures.

The Different Types of Blu-ray Players

So, now we know why Blu-ray technology is so great. You can get the best picture and sound quality available today. If you want to enjoy a movie to the full, then this is a must-have as part of your home theater setup.

Now, let me take a closer look at the different types of Blu-ray players. You have two main choices, standard Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Once you understand the differences, then it will be easier to choose which one is right for you. 

Standard Blu-ray Players

With the introduction of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray technology, there should be a different name for the 'old' Blu-ray players. I'll call them 'standard' Blu-ray.

The first thing to understand is that these are by no means out-dated. You will get a pristine full 1080p picture with these that will be better than any video streaming service or TV channel which isn’t 4K. In fact, if you have a slow internet connection, it may look better than some '4K' pictures from a streaming service.

Aside from a high-quality 1080p picture, you will be able to play back any high-definition audio soundtracks on your Blu-ray disc. That includes Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and any object-based audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. You won't get all that anywhere but Blu-ray.

A standard Blu-ray player will play any CD or DVD disc, so you can replace all your old players if you wish. Some people will replace their old DVD and CD players with one top-notch Blu-ray player. However, if you have a high-quality CD or DVD player, then you can keep them and add a Blu-ray player to the mix. Just to play Blu-ray discs.

The problem with this is your home entertainment system can start to resemble something NASA use to send the space shuttle into orbit!

Most players will also play many other file formats such as DivX, MP3, WMA, FLAC and JPEG. And many other acronyms that you can think of! However, this will vary between models, so check if you need something in particular.

These days, most players will have some form of network connection. Either Ethernet, WiFi - or both. This allows you to stream content from your home network or mobile devices. Or, to access online content such as catch-up TV and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube. Most will have apps to connect to any number of online services. These apps do vary between models, so check if a particular service is important to you.

Finally, just to be clear, these won't play 4K Blu-ray discs. They may upscale standard Blu-ray or DVD to 4K, but this isn't the same as the real thing.

Blu-ray Player Front Controls

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

This version of Blu-ray takes the technology to another level. With a larger disc capacity, Ultra HD Blu-ray can store all the data required for 4K movies and high-resolution audio.

The picture quality is a good as you can get at present. While streaming services offer 4K movies and TV shows, the compression they use to deliver the content means the content doesn’t match the high-quality pictures from Blu-ray.

Of course, streaming still looks pretty good. But, if you are someone who wants the best picture quality, then there is only one way to go.

An important point. To watch 4K Blu-ray, all your hardware chain must support the 4K standard. This means support for HDMI 2.0 and the copy protection technology HDCP 2.2.

Your Ultra HD Blu-ray player will have this. But, you need to make sure your 4K TV does too. All the latest 4K TV models will, but some older ones didn't have full support. I list the TVs which support HDR in the guide to the best OLED and LED TVs.

The main issue though is if you use an AV receiver. If you do, then this needs to allow passthrough of HDCP 2.2. If not, then any content with copy-protection won't pass from the player to your TV.

It can be confusing but consider this before you buy.

These players are backward-compatible with CDs, DVDs and standard 1080p Blu-ray discs. So, you can replace your old Blu-ray player with one of these.

Here is a summary of the important points of Ultra HD Blu-ray:

  • 4K movies at 2160p - 3840 x 2160/60Hz
  • Support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) video - brighter bright bits and darker dark bits.
  • Support for Wide Color Gamut (WCG) - redder reds and bluer blues (and all the other colors too!)
  • 3 disc sizes: 50GB, 66GB and 100GB

The Main Features of Blu-ray Players

So, now you understand the different types of Blu-ray players, let's take a closer look at some of the important features. You may want to consider these before you decide on the right model for you. However, not all these will be important for everybody.

Connectivity

A modern Blu-ray player will offer a few different connection types.

The main one is the HDMI output connection. You will use this to connect to your TV - or your AV receiver if you are using one. The HDMI connection sends the picture and the sound through a single cable.

Some of the top-end players may have two HDMI outputs. This can be useful if you have an old AV receiver in your setup that can’t passthrough a 4K signal. The HDMI 2.0 output will send the 4K picture to your UHD TV, while the HDMI 1.4 out will send audio to your receiver.

You might even see an HDMI input on some players. This is for connecting external devices to the Blu-ray player. This can be useful as these players will have top-of-the-range picture and audio processing. So, you can pass other devices through to benefit from the high-end processing.

You may get a digital audio output of some description. Usually either coaxial or optical. You would use this if you don't use an AV receiver, but want to send the audio to a separate sound system. The article on how to connect surround sound might help if you're not sure about this.

Other connections will usually relate to your home network. A player will either have an Ethernet or WiFi capability. Sometimes both.

OPPO UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-ray Player Rear View ConnectionsOPPO UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-ray Player Rear View Connections

You will use either of these to connect to the internet. Without this, you can't use the apps discussed above. I prefer using an Ethernet connection with a cable where possible. This will provide the fastest and most reliable internet connection.

The problem with WiFi is that it may not be fast enough, or stable enough, to stream video without buffering. However, sometimes WiFi is the only option, so try to make sure you have a strong, reliable signal from your router.

You can also use these network connections to stream media to, or from, other devices on your home network. Either stored on a PC/NAS, or from a mobile device.

Sometimes you may get a USB connection on the front or back of your player. This is for playing back media that you have stored on a USB stick - like photos for example. If you think this might be useful, find a player that has this feature.

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technology that increases the contrast ratio of an image. That is, the blacks are darker, and the whites are brighter. This increased contrast ratio is key to providing a more life-like image. Even more so than the extra pixels you get in your 4K TV.

Currently, there aren't too many places that you can get HDR video content. But, Blu-ray is one of them.

If you want a Blu-ray player that supports HDR, you will need to get a 4K Ultra HD model. There are many new Ultra HD Blu-ray movies with HDR technology, so this is the way to go if you want this.

There are a few different versions of HDR. HDR10 is the most widespread version, but you may also see Dolby Vision. 

Dolby Vision improves the performance of HDR by changing the HDR data for every frame of the image. It can also adjust to the specifications of your TV.

The important point is that to take advantage of HDR, your complete hardware chain must support the same version of HDR. So, to watch an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie in HDR10, you must have:

  • a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player with HDR10 support.
  • a 4K Ultra HD TV that supports HDR10.
  • and, if you are using an AV receiver in your system, then the receiver will need to offer HDR10 passthrough.

The same is true of other types of HDR. The whole hardware chain needs to support the same version.

4K Ultra HD Upscaling

You will often see this listed as a feature for a standard Blu-ray player. Although, even 4K Ultra HD players will upscale content that isn't 4K. 

So, what is upscaling? Well, the maximum resolution of standard Blu-ray is 1080p - or 1920 x 1080 pixels.

If you are connecting your Blu-ray player to a 4K UHD TV, then this has a native resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. So, to view the 1080p image, the extra pixels on the screen need to be 'filled-in' with image data that isn't really there.

TV Screen Resolution ComparisonTV Screen Resolution Comparison

This 'filling-in' is performed by a device called a video scaler. So, if a Blu-ray player can upscale to 4K, then it will have a chip which will perform this task.

The quality of an upscaled picture will depend on how good the video scaler performs this task. Some video scalers are better than others.

However, it's important to realize that even if your Blu-ray player doesn't offer 4K upscaling, you can still use a 4K TV. Every 4K TV will also have its own video scaler. If it didn't, then you could only watch 4K UHD sources. And, there aren't many of those!

Most modern 4K TVs do a pretty good job of scaling lower resolution video. So, having 4K upscaling in the player is only important if it will perform this task better than the TV.

A high-end player may well do. For mid-range and budget players? Not so much.

Bottom line? Upscaling is less important as your TV will do this anyway.

Smart Blu-ray Player

Like many modern TVs, Blu-ray players will offer a range of apps to connect to online services.

There may be a basic internet browser, games, weather and even social media apps. But, the main ones will be the different apps that stream video through to your TV. 

You will find that while the apps will be similar for many players, there will be differences. Therefore, if you want a specific app, then you need to check if the player has that service. 

It can sometimes be useful to have an app on the player, as your TV may not offer the apps you need either. The most common apps are:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Video
  • YouTube
  • Hulu
  • Pandora
  • Rhapsody
  • Vimeo

But, there will be much more that are either pre-installed, or you can download later. Just like adding an app to your phone.

Top 5 Blu-ray Player Reviews

Now that you know what you are looking for, it’s time to look at some the of the top-rated Blu-ray players available today. I’ve chosen a selection of my favorites, any of which will be a fantastic addition to any home theater.

I’ve tried to pick a range of devices at different price bands. It would be too easy just to pick the most expensive models and just declare them as the ‘best’. They probably are, but not everybody has that money to spend. 

So here are a few models which I believe are the best at their price points. 

1. OPPO UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

OPPO has been producing some of the highest quality media players for many years. This Ultra HD Blu-ray player is no different. If you must have the best high-end Blu-ray player on the market, then you really need to start looking here. It has all the features you could want, and possibly has few that you hadn't thought of too. 

Note: OPPO announced in April 2018 that they are not going to make any more Blu-ray players. Boo! However, they will still provide technical and customer support for current models - and honor warranties. So, if you can get one of these at a good price, it's still worth considering. Grab 'em while you can.

OPPO UDP-203 4K Blu-ray Player

Product Highlights

The OPPO UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player is an elegant device with a metal chassis and brushed aluminum front panel. At 9.5 lbs, it has that solid feel that all the best Hi-Fi components do.

With their solid Hi-Fi pedigree, OPPO has put all their expertise into this Blu-ray player to make it a fantastic all-in-one media player. The aim is to provide a single device that will play any media format that you desire.

As far as optical discs, it will play:

  • 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray 3D
  • DVD
  • DVD-Audio
  • SACD
  • CD

Plus, dozens of other media formats for video, audio and image.

This unit has advanced image processing technology in the shape of their OP8591 chip. This has been developed to produce some of the most advanced image processing and decoding currently available. The result is a stunning 4K picture, and fantastic upscaling of lower resolution formats.

OPPO UDP-203 4K Blu-ray Player Specifications
4K UHD? Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) HDR?
Yes 16.9" x 3.1" x 12.2" 9.5 HDR10 / Dolby Vision
Supported Disc Formats Ethernet / WiFi HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Output
UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / SACD / DVD / CD Yes / Yes 2 / 1 1 / 1

However, that's not all. As important is the advanced audio processing. The premium 32-bit DAC provides Hi-Fi quality sound. From 2-channel stereo up to multi-channel 192 kHz/32-bit PCM audio. And, if you are a fan of DSD audio, then there is multichannel support for this too.

If you have an older amplifier or AV receiver with no HDMI support, you can use the 7.1-channel analog outputs. However, because of the high-quality DAC, you may want this unit to decode the audio before going to your amplifier anyway.

Another great feature is dual HDMI outputs. This can save you upgrading your AV receiver if it doesn't support 4K Ultra HD.

All you need to do is connect to your 4K TV with the HDMI 2.0 output. Then, use the HDMI 1.4 port to connect to your AV receiver for the sound.

But, there’s more. There is another HDMI 2.0 input to connect a separate external streaming device. This allows that device to use the advanced video and audio processing of the UDP-203.

Thumbs Up   

  • Top quality video and audio performance
  • Support for many discs and file formats
  • High-end build quality
  • HDR and Dolby Vision
  • Dual HDMI output and single HDMI input
  • 7.1 multi-channel analog output

Thumbs Down   

  • Too expensive for some
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2. Sony UBP-X700 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Sony has a history of producing many excellent Blu-ray players over the years. Now, they have entered the world of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players, and they have done it very well. This device doesn't have the build quality and features of the very top-end players. But this player will be perfect for many people who don't want to spend too much.

Sony UBP-X700 4K Blu-ray Player

Product Highlights

The Sony UBP-X700 Ultra HD Blu-ray player is a compact device which should be easy to install in any home theater system.

Along with support for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, this player will play more optical discs that most. Of course, it will play Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, but also SACD, DVD and CD.

SACD support will be perfect for the audiophiles out there. This format isn't available on most players, so this could be a deciding factor if you love your music.

If you need your player to handle various video, audio and photo formats, then you should be satisfied here. There are dozens of file formats supported including AVCHD discs, MPEG-4, WMV9, ALAC, FLAC and many more.

As this is a 4K Ultra HD player, HDR10 is available. However, this device also supports Dolby Vision which sets it apart from many more affordable players. Don't forget, you will need a 4K TV that supports Dolby Vision to take advantage of this.

Sony UBP-X700 4K Blu-ray Player Specifications
4K UHD? Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) HDR?
Yes 12.6" x 1.8" x 8.5" 3.1 HDR10 / Dolby Vision
Supported Disc Formats Ethernet / WiFi HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Output
UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / SACD / DVD / CD Yes / Yes 2 / 0 0 / 1

Just be aware. At the time of writing, Sony has said that Dolby Vision will only be available via a firmware update in summer 2018.

Sony also highlights the HDR to SDR conversion on this player. This means it will convert any HDR content to look great on a TV which isn't HDR-enabled.

It won't look as good as the real thing, but it might be worth having if you're not ready to upgrade your TV yet.

The UBP-X700 does have built-in WiFi, but it's also good to see that it also comes with an Ethernet port. Ethernet is my preferred way of connecting to a network, as it should prove quicker and more reliable than WiFi.

And don't forget the USB connection on the front which you may find useful for playing your own content.

Thumbs Up   

  • Great performance for the price
  • Compact and light
  • HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • SACD
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Thumbs Down   

  • Dolby Vision not available until Summer 2018 via firmware update
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3. Samsung UBD-M8500 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

This model is positioned in the middle of Samsung's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player range. Like with any item of home theater hardware, there are different price levels with an increasing number of features. This Blu-ray player will be a good fit for those wanting a solid set of features at a reasonable price. Samsung entered the market with their first UHD players in 2016. So, their players are starting to mature into good contenders for your money.

Samsung UBD-M8500 4K Blu-Ray Player

Product Highlights

The Samsung UBD-M8500 is a little larger than some of the newer Blu-ray players. The recent design trend has been towards making devices smaller. However, it's not especially large, so unless you are really stuck for space, this shouldn't be a problem.

This model will play UHD 4K Blu-ray discs, standard Blu-ray, DVD and CDs. Just be aware, it doesn't support 3D discs, so if you are still using this format then this won't be any good for you.

The high-resolution audio formats of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are supported. And, it will also bitstream 3D audio in the shape of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There is also support for other audio formats, like FLAC, up to 192 kHz/24-bit.

The M8500 has fairly standard connections. One HDMI output, one optical audio output and a single Ethernet port. It also has WiFi built-in if you prefer to connect to your network this way.

Samsung UBD-M8500 4K Blu-Ray Player Specifications
4K UHD? Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) HDR?
Yes 15.98" x 1.76" x 9.05" 4.19 HDR10
Supported Disc Formats Ethernet / WiFi HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Output
UHD / Blu-ray / DVD / CD Yes / Yes 1 / 0 1 / 0

There is no Dolby Vision support on this model, but it does have HDR10 and so will allow you to see the glory of HDR if you have a TV with this feature.

As part of the same series, there are the UBD-M9500 and the UBD-M7500. There are a few small differences in features between them.

The UBD-M7500 doesn't have built-in WiFi connectivity - only Ethernet. The UBD-M9500 has dual HDMI outs - useful for anyone with an older AV receiver that doesn't support 4K.

The Samsung SmartHub is available for playing content via various apps. There is a nice feature where you can access the main menu onscreen without having to go back to the home screen.

Thumbs Up   

  • Good value 4K UHD Blu-ray player
  • Automatically optimizes HDR settings if you have a Samsung TV
  • You don't need the separate remote if you have a Samsung TV with OneRemote

Thumbs Down   

  • It's not the smallest device, so check you have space
  • No 3D disc support
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4. LG UP870 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

LG released their first UHD 4K Blu-ray players in 2017. They have been well-regarded for many years with their range of excellent TVs. So, it is great to see some 4K Blu-ray models to add to their range of home theater devices. If you are looking for the cheapest way to enter the 4K Blu-ray market, then this is certainly one of the best budget Blu-ray players. It cuts out some of the extras features found in other players and just concentrates on the basics.

LG UP870 4K Blu-ray Player

Product Highlights

The LG UP870 4K Blu-ray player is a no-frills device which might be perfect for your first taste of 4K Blu-ray.

The main feature to point out is there is no WiFi to connect to the internet. That's fine, I hear you cry, I'll just use the Ethernet port to stream content from the apps.

Well, sorry to disappoint, but no. The Ethernet connection is there purely for downloading firmware updates. There are no apps!

On this model, LG has decided to remove any Smart features, and just deliver a simple disc player. I quite like this idea. Most people have other ways of streaming content from Netflix or Amazon. Their Smart TV, or devices like Chromecast or the Roku range of media players.

By doing this, LG can provide a 4K UHD Blu-ray player which is cheaper than many of the alternatives. 

LG UP870 4K Blu-ray Player Specifications
4K UHD? Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) HDR?
Yes 16.9" x 1.8" x 8.1" 3.6 HDR10
Supported Disc Formats Ethernet / WiFi HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Output
UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / DVD / CD Yes (Firmware Update Only) / No 1 / 0 1 / 0

This model will play 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, standard and 3D Blu-ray discs, DVD and CD.

Most of the audio formats you expect are present - including Dolby Atmos support. One slightly odd point is that there is no mention of DTS:X support on the LG website or in the manual. However, users have confirmed that this unit does play DTS:X soundtracks. You just need to set the audio output to Auto, and it will bitstream the data to your AV receiver to decode.

As for HDR, this player doesn't allow for Dolby Vision playback but does handle the standard HDR10 version.

Connections are a simple affair. On the rear, there is one HDMI, one optical audio and one Ethernet port. Remember, the Ethernet is just for firmware updates. 

On the front, there is a USB port for playing back additional content.

Thumbs Up   

  • Excellent entry level 4K UHD player
  • Supports all the standard disc formats
  • It's cheap

Thumbs Down   

  • Just be aware, there are no Smart apps
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5. Sony BDPS6700 Blu-ray Player

It might seem a little out of date to include a standard Blu-ray player in this list. But, while this Sony device is not an exciting 4K Ultra HD model, let's not forget that it can still produce great quality. Not everybody has a 4K TV. And, Blu-ray players still offer a fantastic 1080p Full HD picture and uncompressed HD audio soundtracks. So, if you want to try out Blu-ray, this Sony player is great value.

Sony BDPS6700 Blu-Ray Player

Product Highlights

The Sony BDP-S6700 Blu-ray player is a dinky little thing. At just 10-inches wide, and weighing in at just under 2 lbs, you might be in danger of losing it down the back of the sofa.

However, while it may not be very large, it does everything it needs to.

This budget model won't cost the earth, but you get to play Blu-ray discs, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, CD and SACD. What's more, it has support for a number of other formats like Xvid, WMV, AVCHD and MPEG4.

As for audio, you will get to experience the full glory of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You won't get those from any streaming video service. So, if you have a decent surround sound system, you will really get the best from it with this player.

Sony BDPS6700 Blu-Ray Player Specifications
4K UHD? Dimensions (W x H x D) Weight (lbs) HDR?
No 10" x 1.5" x 7.5" 1.98 No
Supported Disc Formats Ethernet / WiFi HDMI Out / In Optical / Coaxial Output
Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / SACD / DVD / CD Yes / Yes 1 / 0 0 / 1

Although it won't play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, it will upscale video content to 4K. So, if you have a 4K TV, you can let this do the upscaling or leave it to the TV itself.

You can connect this to your network using the Ethernet port or built-in WiFi. The WiFi can connect at either 2.4 or 5 GHz. As well as smart apps, you can use the internet connection for firmware upgrades.

If you need to connect the player to a sound system, and can't use the HDMI port, then you have a single coaxial digital audio output for delivering the sound.

Thumbs Up   

  • Excellent standard Blu-ray player
  • You can get it very cheap
  • Top notch 1080p picture and high-resolution audio

Thumbs Down   

  • Won't play 4K UHD discs
  • No HDR (that is for 4K UHD players only)
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The Next 5 Best Blu-ray Players

The top 5 rated Blu-ray players give you a great choice. But, we’re not done yet. In case you want some more options to choose from, I’ve picked 5 more top choices for you to think about. Again, we have a range here to suit everyone. Some are high-end models, while others will be great for anyone on a tighter budget.

6. OPPO UDP-205 4K Audiophile Blu-ray Player

If you are an audiophile who needs the highest sound quality, this is for you.

OPPO UDP-205 4K Audiophile Blu-ray Player

4K UHD: Yes

HDR: HDR10 / Dolby Vision

Dimensions (W x H x D): 16.8" x 4.8" x 12.2"

Weight: 22 lbs

Supported Disc Formats: UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / SACD / DVD / CD

Advanced Movie Audio: Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio / Dolby Atmos / DTS:X

Ethernet / WiFi: Yes / Yes

HDMI Out / In: 2 / 1

Optical / Coaxial Output: 1 / 1

Multi-Channel Analog Out: Yes – 7.1

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7. Cambridge Audio CXUHD 4K Universal Player

High-end 4K UHD player from this respected British company.

Cambridge Audio CXUHD 4K Universal Player

4K UHD: Yes

HDR: HDR10 / Dolby Vision

Dimensions (W x H x D): 16.9” x 3.2” x 12.3”

Weight: 11 lbs

Supported Disc Formats: UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / SACD / DVD / CD

Advanced Movie Audio: Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio / Dolby Atmos / DTS:X

Ethernet / WiFi: Yes / Yes

HDMI Out / In: 2 / 1

Optical / Coaxial Output: 1 / 1

Multi-Channel Analog Out: No

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8. Philips BDP7502/F7 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Excellent mid-range 4K UHD player.

Philips BDP7502/F7 4K Blu-ray Player

4K UHD: Yes

HDR: HDR10 / Dolby Vision

Dimensions (W x H x D): 17" x 1.9" x 8.2"

Weight: 3.75 lbs

Supported Disc Formats: UHD / Blu-ray / DVD / CD

Advanced Movie Audio: Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio / Dolby Atmos / DTS:X

Ethernet / WiFi: Yes / Yes

HDMI Out / In: 2 / 0

Optical / Coaxial Output: 1 / 0

Multi-Channel Analog Out: No

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9. Panasonic DMP-UB200 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Mid-range 4K UHD player from a major player in home electronics.

Panasonic DMP-UB200 4K Blu-ray Player

4K UHD: Yes

HDR: HDR10

Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.6" x 1.8" x 7.6"

Weight: 2.9 lbs

Supported Disc Formats: UHD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / DVD / CD

Advanced Movie Audio: Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio / Dolby Atmos / DTS:X

Ethernet / WiFi: Yes / Yes

HDMI Out / In: 1 / 0

Optical / Coaxial Output: 1 / 0

Multi-Channel Analog Out: No

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10. Samsung BD-J6300 Blu-ray Player

Another good standard Blu-ray player if 4K UHD isn’t your thing.

Samsung BD-J6300 Blu-Ray Player

4K UHD: No

HDR: No

Dimensions (W x H x D): 14.2" x 1.6" x 7.7"

Weight: 2.6 lbs

Supported Disc Formats: Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D / DVD / CD

Advanced Movie Audio: Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio

Ethernet / WiFi: Yes / Yes

HDMI Out / In: 1 / 0

Optical / Coaxial Output: 0 / 1

Multi-Channel Analog Out: No

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Blu-ray Player Buying Guide

We have covered quite a bit of ground in our search for the perfect Blu-ray player. Now, I'm going to highlight many of the important issues that you should be thinking about. Once you have these covered, you will be well placed to make the right choice:

1. 4K Ultra HD

You already understand that there are different types of Blu-ray players. Don't buy a 4K Blu-ray Ultra HD player because it's the latest thing. If you're happy with 1080p, then a standard player and 1080p discs can save you money. They still offer a great picture and top-notch sound quality.

2. HDMI Ports

Most people only need one HDMI output. And, this is what most players offer. However, some players come with dual HDMI outputs. If you have an old AV receiver that doesn't have 4K passthrough, you can use the dual HDMI outputs to connect your system. The HDMI 2.0 output will go to your 4K TV for the Ultra-HD picture and the HDMI 1.4 output to your AV receiver for sound.

High-end Blu-ray players may also have an HDMI input - for connecting external devices. This is so they can use the high-end audio processing of the player.

3. Network Connections

Most modern players will offer WiFi for connecting the player to the internet. Although, some budget models may not have apps or internet at all. If your WiFi isn't reliable, then you might want to choose a player that has an Ethernet connection. You can't beat a trusty old cable.

4. HDR Support

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players will offer support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). Do you want this? Remember, there are different types - with HDR10 and Dolby Vision the most common in Blu-ray players. Your TV and AV receiver will also need to support the same type of HDR.

This video explains in a little more detail about how HDR works:

5. Audio Formats

All Blu-ray players will support standard Dolby Digital and DTS. However, you may want some higher quality audio. If so, make sure the player has support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Or, how about DVD-Audio and SACD discs?

Your player can become your main music player as well as movies. Most of the newer models will also support playback of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. However, in most cases, they will bitstream these to the AV receiver. So, your AV receiver will need to be able to decode them. 

The guide to Blu-ray audio formats explains these in more detail.

6. File Formats

Blu-ray players don't just play Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs. They will support the playback of many different file formats. Video, picture, audio. Is this important to you? If so, check out the file formats the player supports. Common ones include FLAC, ALAC, WMA, MP3, DivX and JPEG.

7. Smart Player with Apps

Most modern Blu-ray players will come with a menu that allows you to install apps for online services i.e. Netflix and YouTube. The available apps will vary between players. If you have a specific need, then make sure the player offers that app.

8. Dimensions

Modern players are much more compact than they used to be. However, check the dimensions of the player to make sure it will fit into your setup. Ideally, you should allow a bit of breathing space, so it doesn't overheat.

9. 3D Support

3D movies aren't as popular as they once were. But, they are still out there. To be honest, I still enjoy putting one on now and again. If you have a 3D TV and glasses, you need to make sure your Blu-ray player, and TV, supports 3D.

Conclusion

There we have it, you are now an expert in Blu-ray technology! In 2018, the best Blu-ray players offer the pinnacle in picture and sound quality. You may like the convenience of streaming services, but if you are looking to get the best from your TV and sound system, then Blu-ray is the way to go.

The cost of Blu-ray discs and players has dropped dramatically in recent years. Especially when it comes to standard Blu-ray technology. There has never been a better time to get involved.

Frequently Asked Questions: Blu-ray Players

This buying guide answers many questions about choosing and using a Blu-ray player. However, sometimes you need a simple answer to a direct question. So, let's answer some of the common questions many people have.

Can I Play a CD or DVD on a Blu-ray Player?

Yes! All Blu-ray players are backward compatible with CD and DVD technology. So, you can ditch your old players if you wish and just have one device for all your discs.

Can I Play a 4K Disc on a Standard Blu-ray Player?

No. You need a 4K UHD Blu-ray player to watch a 4K disc.

Are Blu-ray Players Region Locked?

Yes... and no. Like DVDs, standard Blu-ray discs are region coded so they will only play on Blu-ray players built for a certain part of the world.

But, 4K UHD Blu-ray discs do not have any form of region coding. So, they will play in any 4K player regardless of where you are in the world.

However, 4K UHD players still recognise the region locking of standard Blu-ray discs and DVDs. The article on Understanding Blu-ray Region Codes explains the regions in a bit more detail.

Why Do I Get Those Annoying Black Bars on My TV Screen When I Watch a Blu-ray Movie?

The standard shape of a modern flat screen TV is known as a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means it is 16 units wide and 9 units down the side. It can be big or small, but this ratio stays the same. 

Now, the TV show or movie that you are watching is also recorded with an aspect ratio. If it is recorded with an aspect ratio of 16:9, it will fit perfectly on your TV. No black bars!

But, when recording video and movies, there are a few different standards for the aspect ratio. If the video content has a different aspect ratio to your TV, you will get black bars. Annoying, huh?

You can read about this in more detail, with some pretty pictures, in my guide to Blu-ray and DVD aspect ratios.


About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.