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The 5 Best Blu-Ray Players Worth Buying Today

Blu-Ray DVD

The 5 Best Blu-Ray Players Worth Buying Today

Key Points

  • The #1 best Blu-Ray player is the Panasonic DP-UB420. 
  • Even with all the streaming options, Blu-Ray DVDs still have a place because their picture and sound quality can’t be beaten.
  • Blu-Ray players improve the image quality of old DVDs.
  • All Blu-Ray players are backwards-compatible; an Ultra Blu-Ray player plays Ultra Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and standard DVDs, and can even play CDs.
  • Most Blu-Ray players are built with streaming capabilities.

Blu-Ray Players are Still a Top Choice

Yes, DVD players are still on the market. Yes, people are still buying Blu-Ray Players. If you care about the picture and sound quality if you’ve got a taste for filmed entertainment that is limited by streaming services, buying a video player and collecting Blu-Ray DVDs makes lots of sense. The best Blu-Ray players turn the act of watching filmed entertainment into a trip to the movie theatre. Minus, of course, the sticky floors.

Sometimes, even with a 4K television, the streaming picture is underwhelming. This is where an Ultra Blu-Ray player with Ultra Blu-Ray DVD should switch that underwhelm into overwhelm. Likewise, Blu-Ray players don’t need to connect to the web; internet connections aren’t perfect and speeds can get turned down when use is high, thus reducing picture quality. 

There is also the problem that not only do streaming services not have everything, but there are costs to subscribe, costs to stream one-offs, and one never truly owns a film when purchased on a streaming service. The rights holder to the film or show can always decide to take their movie off the service. A favorite movie or television series is better to have on disc both for the fact it can be watched ad infinitum, but also because DVDs typically come with extra features: director’s commentary, outtakes, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes insights, and featurettes. 

The Variety of Blu-Ray Players

There are essentially three types of DVD players on the market. The standard DVD player, which is disappearing, the standard Blu-Ray player, and the 4k Ultra Blu-Ray player (shortened to Ultra). We’re focused on the latter two. Initially, the cost was a big separator, but Blu-Ray players are now just a bit pricier than standard DVD players, with some overlap. And the jump from Blu-Ray to Ultra is also narrowing at the bottom end, with some overlap. The best Blu-Ray Players are easy to score and here’s how we ranked our top 5:

The Best Overall Blu-Ray Player: Panasonic DP-UB420 

Best Overall
Panasonic Streaming 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Player – DP-UB420-K
  • Hits the sweet spot of price and performance.
  • Great picture quality.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Easy to use remote.
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The Panasonic DP-UB420 hits the sweet spot in terms of features and value. This Ultra Blu-Ray player is mid-pack in terms of price, but the image quality is widely considered to be among the best, and it works on most disc formats, including 3D. Where it shines is in image quality, thanks to Panasonic’s Hollywood Cinema Experience (HCX) image processor, which is also found on their top-shelf offerings. It will make old DVDs look good, it will make Blu-Ray and Ultra Blu-Ray look much better. 

The DP-UB420 works on image quality in several ways. There’s an optimizer that adjusts for the specifics of your television and room, tweaking the brightness so it’s just right for the flat-panel you’ve got in the environment where the screen sits. It also supports both HDR10 and HDR10+ formats.

Getting beyond video, into nice-to-have features, there are a few. Two USB outlets, one in front for attaching USB-enabled music players and one in the back for video inputs. The unit also can be attached to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant so that the device is controlled by voice commands.

ProsCons
Image quality is among the bestDoesn’t process Dolby
HCX processor is almost magicDoesn’t process old CDs well
Supports most formatsDevice design is dated

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Best Budget Option: Sony BDP-S1700

Best Budget Pick
Sony BDP-S1700 Streaming Blu-Ray Disc Player with 6ft High Speed HDMI Cable
$96.44
  • Great price.
  • Easy to use remote.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Can play Sony PlayStation 3 games.
  • Includes HDMI cable, which is not standard with all S1700's.
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02/15/2024 11:36 am GMT

Sony’s BDP-S1700 is almost all about the price. It is available for as little as $70, which makes it cheaper than some non-Blu-Ray DVD players. It also accesses more than 300 streaming services, so you can stream from the box. The upscaling is solid, and the remote is easy to use. With it, you can not only stream older DVDs and the machine will make them look better, but you can also do Blu-Ray, and it will look even better than that.

In a world where home entertainment areas get cluttered, with cables and devices, this design is small and sleek; almost hiding in plain sight. The machine is really simple. No Wi-Fi; wired inputs only. It has one LAN jack, one HDMI, one coaxial. The USB port is on the front, so people can plug in portable media like sound and images. Because it’s a Sony, it also supports PlayStation3 games, so long as you plug a wired controller into that USB port.

ProsCons
Price is nearly impossible to beatCan’t play Ultra Blu-Ray
Easy to use interfaceCan’t play 3D Blu-Ray
Easy to use remote

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Most Compatible with Dolby Vision: Sony UBP-X700

Best for Dolby Vision
Sony 4k Ultra Blu-Ray Player UBP-X700/M
$239.99
  • More and varied color.
  • Greater precision in images.
  • Upscaling is excellent.
  • Coaxial output port.
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02/15/2024 11:45 am GMT

The Sony UBP-X700 gives you a vision. Dolby is a well-known name when it comes to sound. The name “Dolby Surround” is branded on movie presentations when the sound experience is part of the movie theatre appeal. They’ve done the same kind of thing in the realm of video. They’ve taken their work to HDR (High Dynamic Range) video information, which boosts the image quality of any digital moving video. Dolby Vision is capable of both higher resolution and greater brightness. It provides more color and greater precision to the images you see on your screen. 

Sony’s UBP-X700 is the best Dolby Vision player. Dolby Vision is winning the format war and thus is something you’ll come across more and more. The image quality is noticeably better. If the DVD you’re playing is merely Ultra Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, or a standard DVD, you’ll still get a great picture. 

ProsCons
Dolby Vision makes everything look greatSound is about average
Lots of ports, including coaxialNo Bluetooth for sound output

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The Best Blu-Ray Player for 3D Discs:  Panasonic DP-UB820-K

Best Blu-Ray Player for 3D Discs
Panasonic 4K Ultra Blu-Ray Player with Dolby Vision – DP-UB820-K
$459.99
  • Makes 3D, 4K, standard Blu-Ray, and old DVDs look great.
  • Works with Dolby Vision, as well as HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG.
  • Works with most every high-tech sound format, like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
  • Easy to create immersive soundscape at home.
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02/15/2024 10:00 am GMT

When you’re in the hunt to play 3D Blu-Ray discs, you should be looking at the Panasonic DP-UB820-K. First, the bad news; 3D DVDs are dying off. And 3D televisions aren’t made any longer. But if you’re in the devoted minority, there’s nothing like the 3D experience. 3D fans will love this Panasonic DP-UB820-K player because not only is the 3D great, but it handles other DVD formats better than most other players, thanks to excellent upscaling. 

There’s a second component of the 3D experience that makes a difference. Immersive sound. The DP-UB820-K has an HDMI port just for sound output as well as an array of eight wired audio outputs known as 7.1 surround sound to envelope you in the video’s soundscape, should you choose to indulge.

ProsCons
Makes 3D, 4K, standard Blu-Ray, and old DVDs look greatPlays neither DVD-Audio nor SACD
It works with Dolby Vision, as well as HDR10, HDR10+, and HLGLimited streaming apps 
It also works with most every high-tech sound format, like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 

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Best Option for Watching and Gaming: Sony PlayStation 5

Best Gaming System/Ultra Blu-Ray Player
Sony PlayStation 5 Console
$443.20
  • Multiple machines in one
  • 3D audio technology
  • Excellent image quality
  • Hooks up to Discord and Twitch
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02/13/2024 09:48 pm GMT

When you’re a gamer as much as a watcher, Sony’s PlayStation 5 has you covered. It can get cluttered around a home television, so a solution to clutter is owning machines that do more than one thing. Hence the gaming console that’s also an Ultra Blu-Ray player. The best is Sony’s PlayStation 5.

The image resolution at 4k is excellent, with crisp images feeling like you’re actually in the place on the screen. The sound quality is excellent, supporting Dolby’s Atmos and DTS:X software for immersive surround sound, not surprising for a gaming system, with the ability to tune the sound in the options.

PS5 not only plays Blu-Ray and Ultra Blu-Ray discs, but also has seven streaming movie apps, six streaming television apps, five streaming music apps, and three animation apps. You can even hook up to Discord and Twitch.

ProsCons
Multiple machines in oneNeed to play with options to get things right
Great soundThe picture isn’t as good as many standalone Blu-Ray devices
Excellent image quality

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How to pick the Best Blu-Ray Player: Step-by-Step

The bigger question is how to pick the best Blu-Ray Player for you. By that, you should both take an inventory of what you have and give some thought to what you’d like to have. This goes for both the DVDs you have and the hardware you use. For example, if you already have a 4K television, then it would be almost criminal not to procure an Ultra Blu-Ray player. Likewise, if your TV has 3D capabilities, you owe it to yourself to make sure the Blu-Ray player you buy can show 3D Blu-Ray.

Disc Inventory and Wish List

Any player you buy should work with at least all the DVDs you already own as well as all the DVDs you think you might want to own in the future. It’s only the best Blu-Ray player when it works with what you have.

Hardware Inventory and Wish List

While there is little immediate reason to go with an Ultra Blu-Ray player if your television doesn’t have such capabilities, there are reasons to consider Ultra Blu-Ray regardless. An Ultra Blu-Ray player will still improve what you see, offer you flexibility in terms of what discs you can watch, and there could always be a higher-resolution set in your future.

What to Know Before Buying A Blu-Ray Player

As with every crowded field, there are almost too many options to consider when seeking out the best Blu-Ray player. Take a deep breath and focus on priorities. The first priority is compatibility; make sure the device plays well with your other devices as well as your preferred discs. Then, decide which features matter more — to prioritize sound, image, inputs, streaming services, or appearance if the device is going to be in a high-visibility area. The differences from machine to machine are often pretty slight unless you’re a dedicated aficionado.

Using A Blu-Ray Player:  What’s It Like

Using solid media like a disc is ingrained in all generations pre-millennial. There is something satisfying about opening the player, placing the disc on a tray, and then watching the machine smoothing digest it and hearing the disc spinning up to speed. Having the luxury of re-watching on your timetable, of knowing something is always available to you, is comforting at the very least. In an era when people are accepting middling picture quality via streaming services, the enhanced picture quality of Blu-Ray and all the variants is a reminder that part of movie magic is a picture that is sharp and bright and feels like an enhanced reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Blu-Ray?

So named for the blue (actually violet) laser light used to read the microscopic information on a spinning plastic disc. Blu-Ray discs can hold up to 50GB of information on a single disc. With greater capacity, more information can be stored on the disc, leading to higher resolution images, thus making the picture quality and sound that much greater.

Will a Blu-Ray player work with my television?

Almost always yes. If the television was made after 2004 and it’s not rear-projection, it’s almost a certainty. If it’s a flat-panel, then definitely. If it’s an analog television, there are some super-expensive Blu-Ray players that can work.

How does it differ from a regular DVD player?

Blu-Ray players can read the higher information density Blu-Ray discs. Blu-Ray players also upscale regular DVDs to enhance picture quality to match that of your television; regular DVDs will thus result in a better picture when played through a Blu-Ray or Ultra Blu-Ray player.

Can regular DVD players read Blu-Ray discs?

No, they cannot.

Can Blu-Ray Players play regular DVDs and CD’s?

Yes, they can. And thanks to upscaling, they should improve the image quality of the regular DVDs.

Can Blu-Ray Players play Ultra Blu-Ray DVDs?

No, they cannot. While this goes by various names—Ultra HD Blu-Ray, 4K Ultra HD, 4k Blu-Ray–they are all the same. Basically, it’s improved Blu-Ray, where the disc reader can read highly-compressed information which results in images with 4k resolution, aka nearly 4000 lines, filling in way more detail.

Can an Ultra Blu-Ray player play regular DVDs and Blu-Ray DVDs?

Again, it is backwards compatible to work with Blu-Ray, standard DVDs, and CDs; the player can be used to watch DVDs in those other formats.

So, it’s backwards-compatible. Sweet. Will it play my home made CDs and DVDs?

Probably. Depends on the model.

I’ve heard there are 3D Blu-Ray discs. Will these turn my television into a 3D experience?

It’s a bit more complicated than that. There are 3D  Blu-Ray DVDs. However, you need a 3D Blu-Ray player to read the disc, then a 3D capable television to show the images in 3D.  And then 3D glasses. Because of this added complexity, 3D Blu-Ray is currently on the way out.

Some gaming systems work off of discs. Are these Blu-Ray?

Blu-Ray works on Microsoft’s xBox One S/X, Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4), and Nintendo Switch.

Ultra Blu-Ray works on Microsoft’s Xbox One X, One S, Series, X.  It also works with Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5).  Again, remember these machines will be backwards compatible.

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