10 Blu-ray Players Worth Picking Up Today 
Home Theater Feature Articles Best Of & Top 100 Lists
Written by Dick Ward   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010

It was all so much easier a few years back when there were only a few different Blu-ray players to choose from.  Now the market is flooded with countless players from makers on the low and high end of things.  Even manufacturers that don't typically dabble in electronics have moved into the Blu-ray player market. 

To make the whole process easier, we've compiled a list of ten Blu-ray players that are worth picking up right now.  Ultimately, of course the choice depends on your needs, so we've pulled from a range of prices and uses.

Sony BDP-S570  (detailed review)

Sony's excellent standalone player comes in at the sweet spot for Blu-ray pricing.  At a list price of $250 it's costly enough to pack some needed features, but not so much that regular folks balk at the cost.  It's a slick looking player that's leaps and bounds above its predecessor.

Sony S570
One of the finest points of the BDP-S570 is the amount of features that Sony manages to sneak in at the price.  It's 3D capable, it's got WiFi built right in and it can stream video and audio from different online sources, including Netflix.

The most common complaint about the S570 is that the wireless functionality can be finicky.  It works beautifully with some networks, but not with others.  Still, at $250 a 3D capable Blu-ray player with wireless streaming capabilities is nothing to scoff at.

LG 590

If you are looking for a player with a beefy internal hard drive for CD archival and you are holding off on the jump into 3D until next year, LG’s BD590 is probably your best bet.  The 590 allows you to rip your CD collection to the player in 128, 192, 320 or lossless format.  It automatically takes the meta data from the CD as it uses Gracenote, the company that supplies Apple with metadata.  
LG 590
The LG BD590 also supports a variety of internet based content providers including Pandora, Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu and YouTube.  It can access these services with built in Wi-fi, assuming you have a wireless router setup at your home.  Retail is about $380, but it can be found for about $300 online.  
While the start-up time doesn’t rival some of their competitors, the player has excellent image quality for its class.  It also has a slim profile with hidden controls behind the front, glossy panel.

Oppo BDP-83  (detailed review)

Moving away from the low end, we find the Oppo BDP-83.  At $499 the BDP83 is the single most impressive player in the price range and is still one of the best deals in Blu-ray.  You'll find similar features in players at twice the cost.
Oppo 83

One of the biggest things the BDP-83 has going for it is the Anchor Bay VRS video processing that's built right in.  It handles Blu-rays beautifully, and upscales DVDs better than most thanks to the deinterlacing and scaling of Anchor Bay's tech.

The BDP-83 is also a universal disc player that's capable of handling DVD-Audio and SACDs incredibly well.  It's well supported by firmware updates too.  Early in the player's life there were complaints of distortion when playing SACDs, but a quick update from Oppo rendered the complaint moot.

Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD

Pioneer’s Elite series of players has a history of quality (if not very heavy) equipment and the BDP-23FD is no exception.  The 23FD has a picture quality that rivals the previous Oppo player and there are 4 Burr-Brown DACs on the inside handling each channel.  It also has multi-channel PQLs to reduce the jitter in the audio track.

Pioneer player

The unit also comes with 1 gig of internal memory and is BD-Live compliant.  The player is on the slower side when loading a new disc, but the tradeoff is a superior picture and sound quality over most players.  As of late, the BDP-23FD retails for about $499.99, but can be found for considerable less than that online.

Marantz UD9004

If you're looking for the best in Blu-ray combined with some amazing audio features, the Marantz UD9004 is the way to go.  It's one of those players that must have been a joy to create.  Marantz picked the best components for their flagship universal player, and the $5,999 price reflects that.

Marantz UD9004

It's got a REALTA HQV video processor for the best possible playback of Blu-ray discs and upscaling of DVDs.  It handles 36-bit Deep Color, and includes 297MHz/14-bit DACs for component and S-Video outputs.  

The UD9004 handles audio like a champ.  It plays back Blu-rays, DVD-Audio and SACDs impeccably well, and includes a separate HDMI output just for audio.  All outputs utilize 192 kHz/32-bit audio DACs, and there are a wide range of those.  All in all, you won't find a player much better than the UD9004.

Samsung BD-C7900

With 3D becoming more and more commonplace, you want a player that can handle it well.  Samsung's $400 BD-C7900 is one of the best.  It's a new player on the market, but it's essentially an upgraded version of the C6900 that came out earlier this year.

Samsung 7900

The biggest difference between the C7900 and the C6900 is the inclusion of a second HDMI output for audio.  That makes the C7900 one of few 3D players on the market that caters to customers with older receivers.

To add to that, it's got all the streaming features you'd expect.  You can get movies from Blockbuster and Netflix, as well as music from Pandora.  The C7900 even has WiFi built right in so you don't have to worry about cords. The biggest downside to the C6900 was the amount of noise put out by the player.  That's something that should hopefully be addressed in the C7900.

Sony BDV-E770W

Sony htibThere are times – though they're very few and far between – when a home theater in a box is just what you need.  Maybe you're getting a home theater system for the kids or for the folks, or for a room that doesn't need all the bells and whistles.

In that case, Sony's BDV-E770W is a great way to go.  It's one of few HTiBs that's 3D capable, and that's a major selling point.  The E770W also includes a decent set of speakers for what they are – the rear two of which are wireless.

The player itself also has wireless capabilities when it comes to internet streaming.  You can access Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and a series of other online providers as well as stream media from computers on your home network.  The E770W comes in at an MSRP of $649. 

Sony BDP-CX7000ES

Megachangers gained a great deal of popularity during the era of CDs and DVDs, but it's tough to find one out there these days.  Sony is one of few companies to create a carousel system capable of loading multiple Blu-ray discs.

Sony CX7000ES
The BDP-CX7000ES can handle up to 400 of them in a mix of Blu-ray, DVD and CD.  The changer connects to Gracenote for the metadata, which makes searching for the disc you want easier, and it can even grab the box art while it's doing so.  You'll need to connect an Ethernet cord though, since the CX7000ES doesn't have WiFi built in.

Sony's megachanger features 7.1 channel analog output, 1080p upscaling for DVDs, Super Bit Mapping, and an RS-232 port so the player can be integrated into a custom installed system.  This massive player comes with a MSRP of $1,899.

Panasonic DMP-B500

 You've only got a few different choices when it comes to picking up a Blu-ray player to use on the go, but there's only one right choice.  Panasonic's DMP-B500 is at the top of the very small mountain of portable players.  The B500 has a list price of $799, but you can find it for around $200 less.

Panasonic's portable player sports a 10 inch screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution.  It's not high def, but it's close – especially at that size.   It's a slick looking player that offers decoding of high definition audio formats and compatibility with a few different video files as well.

What's really interesting is that the DMP-B500 has built-in WiFi and the ability to connect to Panasonic's VIERA Cast, which enables streaming of online content from a variety of sources including the ever popular Netflix.

Sony PlayStation 3 Slim  (detailed review)

Sony PS3 SlimNearly four years after its release, the PS3 is still one of the most compelling Blu-ray players on the market, and the newer slim model makes the system even more attractive.  It's quieter, smaller, and more energy efficient than previous versions.

The PlayStation 3 handles Blu-rays just as well as, if not better than, any other Blu-ray player in its price range.  It's got nice quick load times too.  The PS3 also benefits from regular firmware updates.  It's one of few players that's still getting new firmware four years later, and likely the only player from 2006 that's 3D capable.

The PS3 can stream from Netflix, upscale DVDs quite well, play a variety of video and audio formats via your home network or attached USB drive, and even access the internet.  All that and it plays videogames too. A t $299, the Sony PlayStation 3 is still a player to beat.


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