Blu-ray DVD players: Choosing the best Blu-ray and DVD players Blu-ray and DVD player buying advice
When you're out shopping, don't be afraid to ask a shop assistant whether you can have a play with your chosen DVD or Blu-ray player before you buy it. Follow our checklist approach to get the best machine for you.
Check for cables
Both DVD and Blu-ray players need the correct lead to connect them to your TV set but usually they don't come with one in the box. DVD players need a Scart lead and Blu-ray players need an HDMI lead. A decent Scart lead will cost around £10, and £20 should be sufficient for a good HDMI lead - there's no need to spend more. Don't be pressurised by sales staff into forking out for expensive cables - they're not necessary.
For more help on connecting your Blu-ray player to your TV, check the Which? interactive connection wizard.
There are two types of digital surround-sound connections – coaxial (wire) or optical (fibre optic). If you have a surround-sound system, buy a player with the same connections.
Check for CEC support
If you want to use just one remote control for all your TV equipment, look for devices that have a consumer electronics control (CEC) feature. Most DVD and Blu-ray players are now CEC enabled.
Different brands give CEC different names, including Anynet+ (Samsung), Aquos Link (Sharp), Bravia Sync (Sony), Kuro Link (Pioneer), Regza Link (Toshiba), Smplink (LG), HDAVI Control and Viera Link (Panasonic) and EasyLink (Philips). To find out which TVs support CEC, check our 200+ reviews of the latest LCD and plasma TVs.
If you want to use BD-Live it’s worth checking whether your Blu-ray player has any extra memory built in (you’ll need some memory to save downloaded content). No internal memory means you’ll have to buy a memory card or USB flash drive separately. Depending on size they cost from around £5.
Check our Blu-ray players review pages for BD-Live compatibility.
Check the USB port
Many new DVD and Blu-ray players have USB ports. They can allow you to connect the player to digital equipment, such as a camera or music player, and play photos and music via your player and TV.
However, sometimes the USB socket, such as on the Sony BDP-S550, is only compatible as an extra memory port for BD-Live applications.
Disc loading times
DVD players are fairly quick to power up and start playing discs but thanks largely to the amount of time it takes the blue laser to read the information on disc, Blu-ray players can be a little sluggish to operate. To identify the worst offenders, you could time how long it takes from switching the player on to opening the tray. It takes about 10 seconds on a normal DVD player, but Blu-ray players are typically much slower, especially when loading a high-definition disc.
Once the disc has loaded, time how long it takes for a picture to actually appear on screen. Blu-ray players can take two to three times longer than the typical 15 seconds it takes a standard-definition machine.
A great picture and fantastic sound aren't the be all and end all. If your player is a pain to use it'll drive you to distraction.
Check the remote control
It's crucial that the remote is sensibly laid out and comfortable. Check that the buttons are a good size and are labelled clearly. Ideally, buttons should make an audible click when you press them, or give the definite feeling that they've been pressed (this is known as 'tactile feedback').
Check on-screen menus
You'll be controlling your player using the on-screen menus. Their design and layout will affect how easy the player is to use, so look out for readability issues and try to navigate through a few tasks. Trying it without an instruction manual should give you a good idea about how intuitive the machine is to use.
Front panel controls
Try a few simple operations, like playback and skipping scenes, using the buttons on the front of the machine. If you were to lose the remote, this could be the only way to operate the player. Check buttons are accessible and not too fiddly to use.