You are thinking of buying a Blu-ray player for your living room. After searching online though, you have not been able to decide which one to buy: there are a lot of different models on the market with prices ranging from $50 to $500, and you do not know which one is worth buying considering your current needs.
The choice is not so complex, and to make it even simpler it is enough to understand some key features. On this page I will help you choose which Blu-ray player to buy, explaining what you need to know about them and how to decide which features work best for you.
Well, first let’s make a brief summary of the main features that you need to consider before buying a Blu-ray player. If you consider yourself a connoisseur and do not need any help, scroll to the bottom of this page where you will find our list of the best Blu-ray players of the moment.
How to choose a Blu-ray player
The first considerations you have to make is in regard to your budget and the rest of the components that make up your “Home Theater”.
If you have a cheap TV, you do not need an expensive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Conversely, if you already own a couple of top-notch A/V components, you will have to invest in a premium Blu-ray player.
Below you will find some features that you absolutely need to know before choosing your next player Blu-ray player.
All Blu-ray players currently on the market support both Blu Ray and DVD movie disks. Many of them also support AVI (DivX), MP4 and MKV video formats, but not all of them are capable of reading 3D Blu-ray or re-writable discs (this is especially true for budget Blu-ray players). Before purchasing one, make sure that it is capable of reproducing the discs you are more interested in.
I advise you not to base your choice on 3D since it is a now obsolete format, which you no longer find in the latest generation of TVs. Manufacturers have gradually stopped implementing it because it was a feature not particularly sought after by consumers. Remember that in order to play a 3D Blu-ray disk, in addition to the player you will also need a compatible TV.
Blu Ray 4K (Ultra HD)
2016 marked the debut of the first Blu-ray disk in 4K format (Ultra HD) that have a much higher resolution (3840×2160 pixels) than that of traditional Blu-ray disks (1920×1080 pixels) but are not compatible with HD Blu-ray devices. In addition, you should keep in mind that to fully enjoy Ultra HD content you need to have a 4K TV preferable with HDR.
You’ve certainly heard of HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range. It is a standard that identifies multimedia content with a broad color spectrum support, especially for areas of the image with high brightness or dark shadows.
HDR content faithfully reproduces highlights and shadows, maintaining and highlighting the details both in well-lit areas as well as in the darkest shadows, without overexposing the rest. HDR offers better color gamut with more color support, and a more accurate brightness balance to the real scene.
There are several HDR standards in circulation:
HDR10: this is the most popular. As you can deduce from the name HDR10 adopts 10-bit color coding, and the license to use is free.
HDR10+: this is also an open format, but in addition uses technology for managing dynamic metadata encoding, scene by scene. The technology is called Dynamic Tone Mapping and ensures a more correct color balance frame by frame.
Dolby Vision: another popular standard is Dolby Vision, produced by Dolby and with a 12-bit color coding, which is more accurate and complete than HDR10. It can also dynamically manage the metadata encoding of each frame.
HLG: Hybrid-Log Gamma, this format is not widely used and is primarily intended for cinemas and public broadcasts.
More and more Blu-ray players offer an internet connection and smart features, such as web browsing, streaming apps (services like Netflix or Amazon), and integration with social networks. If you don’t have a smart TV, you might find these features particularly useful.
Upscaling is a built-in feature in most Blu-ray players that allows you to play standard definition content (SD) and adapt it to an HD resolution (or even 4K) trying to improve its quality. Unfortunately, the result is not always brilliant.
In addition to video quality, the audio component is also important. Most Blu-ray players support Dolby Digital audio and DTS, while Dolby Digital True HD, DTS-HD, and other high-definition audio formats are optional.
If you want to connect a Home Theater system to your Blu-ray player, make sure that the device also supports the most advanced audio formats and has the needed connections available.
Other features to consider are the availability of USB ports for reproducing multimedia content from external drives and hard drives; the presence of an optical audio output or coaxial (as I wrote above); the processor (very important in Smart Blu-ray players); support for technologies such as DLNA to stream media files from your local network.
Which Blu-ray player to buy
Having read all the features to consider before buying a Blu-ray player, let’s see which are the best devices currently available on the market.