Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Despite the triumph of online video streaming, movies on Blu-ray are still in high demand. These discs can bring Ultra HD quality to the living room and still have some inherent advantages over streaming. To fully enjoy a movie, you need the right Blu-ray player.
Blu-rays have advantages over internet streaming, such as independence from a fast internet connection or availability, which is often limited in some movies and series. In addition, the image and sound quality of movies on Blu-ray are even better.
The big disadvantage of Blu-rays is their price since a newly released film on Ultra HD Blu-ray costs over $30 and thus twice a monthly subscription from a streaming provider.
Differences between Blu-ray and DVD
DVD discs are still on the market and still compete with the Blu-ray format. Both are physical disks that need to be inserted into a player, but they have a big difference in storage capacity. The capacity of a Blu-ray is five times greater (25GB) than that of a DVD (4.7GB), resulting in a better picture and sound quality.
Blu-ray discs offer better resolutions, more complex menus, and several additional features such as 3D playback. Blu-ray discs are a little more expensive and there are fewer titles available, but this is only because they have been on the market for less time. If you are looking to purchase a player, the best thing is to opt for a Blu-ray player. Even a cheap Blu-ray player lets you play DVDs and most of them can even improve their image.
What is 4K resolution? Native resolution and upscaling
4K resolution is the best resolution available on the market. 4K resolution means that the image is made of 3,840×2,160 pixels. This means that the details are much better than the Full HD (1,920×1,080 pixel) format. To fully enjoy a movie with a 4K resolution you must have a 4K TV and a player capable of reading 4K or UHD (Ultra High Definition) Blu-ray discs. You also need such disks, of course.
But, the number of series or movies that we can find with a native 4K resolution is really small. That’s why many 4K Blu-ray players integrate a technology called upscaling. What is upscaling? Upscaling is a process whereby a Blu-ray player takes a non-4K content and alters it so that it can be played on an Ultra High Definition resolution screen. Some Blu-ray players perform this job better than others. The upscaling process never equates to the clarity and quality of a native 4K Blu-ray movie, but it still gives you better picture quality.
Most Blu-ray players on this list incorporate upscaling technology or can read discs with native UHD resolutions. If you have a 4K TV and want to make the most of it, we recommend that you opt for a 4K Blu-ray player. They’re more expensive, but also future-proof.
The end is nigh
The Blu-ray disc was developed about 15 years ago as a successor to the DVD. After a format war with a similar HD DVD, Blu-ray finally prevailed. In recent years, competition has increased greatly due to convenient and affordable video streaming over the Internet. As a result, sales of both formats are declining. As customer interest in Blu-ray disks is declining, some manufacturers have stopped producing Blu-ray players, Samsung and Oppo have already left the market, while others, like Sony and Panasonic, have doubled down.
Sony UBP-X700: best Blu-ray player for most people
For (Check on Amazon.com), the Sony UBP-X700 is a full-fledged Ultra HD Blu-ray player at a bargain price. Both experts and Amazon buyers certify the device’s excellent image quality.
This budget Blu-ray player has a nice design that is both classy and discreet.
In addition to playing UHD Blu-ray disks, 4K streaming is also possible and upscaling low-resolution content to 4K does not show any weaknesses.
The Sony UBP-X700 supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, but no HDR10+. 3D playback is still on board, as well as support for most video and audio formats. Apps like Netflix and YouTube are also present.
There is no Bluetooth connectivity nor a display but with an intuitive menu interface and a solid remote, you will always find what you’re looking for. And, on top of that, you can even control the device with your phone or tablet.
Two HDMI ports, a USB port, and digital audio output allow for easy integration into any home theater system. This way you can get a real cinema feeling directly in your living room. The high-quality surround sound, paired with 4K images and HDR, ensures a cool audiovisual experience.
And thanks to support for the recently updated BT.2020 color space, you can benefit from a much wider color spectrum than a conventional TV signal. Thus, the device creates even more saturated and realistic colors.
This Sony model offers you the best overall package for a reasonable price.
Panasonic DP-UB820: the best
The Panasonic DP-UB820 (Check on Amazon.com) delivered the best 4K scaling during our tests, offering maximum detail without adding any grain. The “HDR Optimizer” feature is even more impressive than its name suggests: it optimizes HDR content by converting the brightest highlights into a range compatible with your TV. This made HDR content look even better on some screens.
The DP-UB820 Blu-ray player is also the first model to support both dynamic HDR formats: Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
If you do not need or care for the better audio of the excellent Panasonic DP-UB9000, this model will offer you the same picture quality (they use the same video processor) at a discounted price!
Panasonic DP-UB9000: best Blu-ray player for audiophiles
The Panasonic DP-UB900 (Check on Amazon.com) is a Blu-ray player reference. Quality video processing provides perfect image reproduction and the audio processing should not disappoint high-fidelity enthusiasts. In addition to providing exemplary audio and video performance, the UB9000 is also fully loaded with 4K stream services from Netflix and Amazon.
This model can reproduce any 4K UHD movie without any problems and play all audio and video formats and all media (from Blu-ray to Audio CD). The hardware that deals with the audio is able to generate a clean and sharp sound that doesn’t deform even when you raise the volume to the maximum.
The design is very elegant and the device looks great in any living room, it is also built with quality materials that manage to keep disk noise to a minimum.
The only real problem is the price which is as premium as the device.
In conclusion, if money isn’t an issue this is the definitive Blu-Ray player.
Sony UBP-X800M2: best Blu-ray player for music
The UBP-X800M2 (Check on Amazon.com) is the best Sony Blu-ray player yet. This model is the successor of the highly successful UBP-X800 and corrects its one flaw i.e. support for Dolby Vision.
This is a 4K Blu-ray player with one of the best upscaling in Ultra HD and support for HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG High-Dynamic Range content.
It also retains support for high-definition audio with Hi-Res Audio and DSEE HX Upscaling technologies, as well as compatibility with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X formats.
Sony BDP-S3700: best budget Blu-ray player
What if I told you that there is a Blu-ray player that, for a small price, will let you watch movies with excellent quality? Science fiction? No, we’re just talking about one of the best entry-level Blu-ray players ever, the Sony BDP-S3700 (Check on Amazon.com).
It’s a Full HD 1080p Blu-ray player (not a 4K one), so it’s ideal for those of you who don’t have a 4K TV or don’t need an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Nevertheless, it offers great picture quality, good sound, and a few extras like Miracast, 3D support, WIFI connectivity, and apps like YouTube and Netflix.
The BDP-S3700 can also improve the definition of standard DVDs until they reach HD resolution. If your movie library consists mostly of DVDs and standard Blu-ray disks this is your best option.
Microsoft Xbox Series X: best Blu-ray player for gamers
If you are looking for a game console to reproduce your 4K Blu-ray and DVD discs, the Microsoft Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon) is worth a look as this is the only current-generation Xbox model that accepts optical discs – the cheaper Microsoft Xbox Series S (Check on Amazon) is a digital-only console (it doesn’t have a disc slot) and relies on 4K upscaling (not native 4K).
Sure, it’s hard to come by right now but it might be worth it as a long-term investment, both as a gaming console and a 4K Blu-ray player, all combined into one piece of hardware.
It can play DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 4K, as well as Xbox game discs. Image quality is great, with far less noise than was evident in the previous generation Xbox One X systems (Check on Amazon), and the contrast is decent. It also supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR, neither of which you’ll find on the Sony PlayStation 5 (Check on Amazon), although support for Dolby Vision is limited to streaming services and doesn’t extend to disc drives, that’s why it ends up so low on this list. And you’ll also get HDR10 (not HDR10+) on disc as well. Navigating the UI with a controller isn’t a good experience but the Xbox Series X can work with a standard IR remote (purchased separately), unlike the PS5.
As a replacement for other 4K Blu-ray players on this list, the new Xbox (Check on Amazon) is a good bet, if you can live with its HDR limitations since the picture quality with SDR and HDR10 content is on par with any other Blu-ray player we have tested.
Panasonic DP-UB420: best Blu-ray player for cinephiles
You want a Blu-ray player capable of reproducing both movies and music quite well, but you don’t want to spend much? In that case, the Panasonic DP-UB420 (Check on Amazon) is the one to buy. Not only will you get full support for a wide range of file formats and types, but the image quality is really excellent – it boasts the same HCX image processing (Hollywood Cinema eXperience) that we find in Panasonic’s high-end devices.
The Panasonic DP-UB420 stands out from most other 4K Blu-ray players in two key ways. First, Panasonic’s 4K players are the only ones that offer an HDR Optimizer feature, which adjusts the output of high-dynamic-range video based on the brightness capabilities of your TV. Secondly, the DP-UB420 offers the best 4K upscaling, producing maximum detail without introducing additional noise into the image.
However, there are also some drawbacks. Chief among them is poor build quality, plastic and fragile. And as good as the audio quality really is (when streaming music), this player doesn’t reproduce CDs particularly well.
Overall, the Panasonic DP-UB420 is designed for cinephiles who want the absolute best picture quality and are willing to give up some secondary functions to get it.
Microsoft Xbox One S: a game console that’s also an excellent Blu-ray player
The Microsoft Xbox One S (Check on Amazon.com) is a smaller, thinner, less powerful and cheaper version of the Xbox One X (Check on Amazon.com). it is still a solid gaming console and in addition a great Blu-ray player and a streaming device.
It is not the best Ultra HD Blu-ray player around, but it does the job pretty well. While its scaling engine performs as well as the high-end Panasonic DP-UB9000, the Xbox One S does not support passthrough and also converts all audio signals to Dolby Digital or DTS. Thus, say farewell to Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. In addition, the remote control – essential for a good Blu-ray player – is optional.
If you are a gamer then this product is a great jack of all trades at a truly affordable price.
If, on the other hand, your priority is watching movies, then don’t waste your money on a console that you will not use for its intended purpose and buy a cheap Sony Blu-ray player instead.
Sony BDP-S6700: best Blu-ray player for Netflix
The Sony BDP-S6700 (Check on Amazon.com) is the bigger sibling of the entry-level BDP-S3700. It is housed in a very compact shell. The remote control is also handy and small. All the menus are clear and self-explanatory. It is filled with a wide range of apps, a USB port, and the option to mirror your smartphone and tablet screen.
The BDP-S6700 is capable of scaling to 4K, with buttery smooth motion, brilliant sharpness, and natural colors. It also has the ability to transmit audio wirelessly to headphones, soundbars, and speakers without loss of quality (via Bluetooth). There is also DLNA support to play multimedia files on the local network, Miracast technology support to receive multimedia content from smartphones and tablets, video playback from USB drives, and the ability to control the player from your smartphone thanks to a dedicated free app.
In short, this device is capable of giving you a complete and impeccable cinema experience without leaving your living room.
Sony UBP-X800: great picture matched with exceptional audio
The Sony UBP-X800 (Check on Amazon.com) Blu-ray player has a clean and minimalist design. It has a solid construction, with quality materials, and the body has been reinforced to better resist resonance. Thus it eliminates micro-vibrations and provides electrical shielding.
This is a 4K Ultra HD model with high-resolution audio, 4K upscaling, and High Dynamic Range support (HDR10). Combined with the clarity of 4K, HDR brings previously hidden areas to light with new levels of brightness, hues, and colors.
In addition, it offers unmatched sound thanks to the Dolby Atmos and DTS: X technologies (used in theaters around the world). Furthermore it also “upscales” the sound, thanks to the DSEE HX technology, which converts the frequency and dynamic range of mp3 and other compressed formats – even CDs – to a quality comparable to high resolution.
Its ace in the hole is that this player supports audio streaming via Bluetooth, so you can use your favorite wireless headphones for a private movie session or stream audio to a wireless speaker. This way it is also perfect for streaming services like Spotify.
The Sony UBP-X800 can compete with the best Blu-ray players out there in terms of performance and can also function as a very versatile audio player. It can satisfy both cinephiles and audiophiles and the price is very attractive.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t support Dolby Vision like the UBP-X700 which offers the same image quality at a lower price.
Sony UBP-X1100ES: best mid-range Blu-ray player
There are many excellent 4K Blu-ray players to choose from in the premium end of the market, and Sony’s UBP-X1100ES, the newest version of the X1000ES, also deserves to be on this list.
This is a universal player that allows you to play all kinds of disc formats, including Blu-ray 3D, SACD, and DVD-Audio. This new version really improves on its predecessor, with a superb range of features, including native 4K resolution and Sony’s unparalleled upscaling. We also find full support for Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10 for better color reproduction and brightness – but it lacks support for HDR10+, which is a bit disappointing.
Its image, though, is far from disappointing. The image quality is much better than the previous model and the picture looks breathtaking: the UBP-X1100ES produces a balanced, natural, and gradient image, with great depth and an awesome quantity of detail.
In addition to the richer image, this is also a great music player, with great timing and a good sense of rhythm with both films and music. And you also get audio enhancements like Dolby Atmos and DTS: X for an enhanced surround sound experience.
It features an Ethernet port, two HDMI outputs, and an optical port, which should cover all bases in terms of connectivity. Bluetooth is a nice bonus, allowing you to use wireless headphones for private listening.
We also like its price – (Check on Amazon) may seem much, but the sear number of premium Blu-ray player models on the market makes it clear that there are plenty of people willing to pay such a figure.
However, this model also has some significant flaws. It has limited audio outputs (for a music player) and very few streaming apps. If you want a better streaming Blu-ray player try the BDP-S6700, also made by Sony. It does not offer the same range of features or image quality as the UBP-X1100ES but is ideal for streaming movies and series.