Of course, you can’t play a Blu-Ray player on any old DVD equipment. Sure, the disc might fit, but you’ll receive nothing but errors if you try to play it. You’ll instead need to venture out and buy a new Blu-Ray player, but this can be confusing because there are numerous choices available across a board range of prices.
So which are the best Blu-Ray players?
Sony has always been the driving force behind Blu-Ray, so it isn’t too surprising to discover that Sony offers an excellent mid-range Blu-Ray player that provides a buffet of features.
In terms of Blu-Ray playback, the BDP-S570 does what you’d expect – play the discs. It provides excellent image quality and full support for the handful of 3D Blu-Rays currently available. The user interface is slick, as well, and should be familiar to anyone who has recently used another Sony media player or a PlayStation 3.
A host of other functionality is included in the BDP-S570, as well. You can stream media over WiFi from a number of free and paid services such as Netflix, YouTube and Pandora. These features don’t have anything to do with playing Blu-Ray discs, but they’re still nice to have.
This slim LG player is an entry-level offering that doesn’t offer a lot of features but fulfills it’s primary function well. Blu-Ray discs play nearly as well on the LG BD550 as they do on the best Blu-Ray players that are several times more expensive. The interface is fairly intuitive and discs load quickly.
The LG BD550 also includes compatibility with some streaming services, like NetFlix and Pandora. However, there is no WiFi on this player, so you’ll need a wired Internet connection available in your home theater if you want to use these features.
When Sony debuted the PlayStation 3 its inclusion of a Blu-Ray player was considered a major selling point. Blu-Ray players available a few years ago weren’t any less expensive than a PlayStation 3, and they all couldn’t play games. Why not just buy the PlayStation 3?
Things have changed a bit since then. The least expensive PlayStation 3 is $299, which is over twice as much as what you’d pay for the LG BD550. Still, the PS3 can’t be ignored. If you’ve never played a video game, and you don’t care to change that, then you should skip the PS3. Casual gamers, however, should remember that the PS3 has a lot of excellent games available. You can kill two birds with one stone.
Other advantages of the PlayStation 3 include its large hard drive and excellent WiFi connectivity. It is very easy to store media on your PlayStation 3, or stream media to it. This make’s the PS3 not only a Blu-Ray player but also a media center that can do many of the same things you’d expect of a home theater PC.
If you already own a home theater computer, it may be best not buying an individual Blu-Ray player at all. OEM packaged Blu-Ray players are available as an upgrade for your home theater computer for as little as $49.99.
Yes, that’s right – for 50 bucks you can give your computer the ability to play Blu-Ray discs. You can pay more, of course, and if you do you’ll be able to purchase drives that can burn Blu-Ray discs. Blu-Ray drive upgrades are available as 5.25″ internal drives (for mid-tower desktop PCs) or slim internal drives that can fit smaller PC cases and some laptops.
This is MakeUseOf, so I’d normally tell you about some free Blu-Ray software you can use to play your discs. Unfortunately, no such software is available yet. If you want to play your Blu-Ray discs you’ll have to shell out some cash for a program like WinDVD or PowerDVD.
There are many other Blu-Ray players available, and a lot of them are just fine, but the players listed here are the ones that most future Blu-Ray fans should consider first. If you have a Blu-Ray player that you love – or hate – let us know in the comments.