How to buy the best Blu-ray player
By Callum Tennent
High definition, 3D or even 4K – our expert advice helps you to decide what to look for when you’re buying a blu-ray player
The most important feature of a Blu-ray player is that it plays your films and TV shows in the best picture quality. Despite being expensive when they first launched, Blu-ray players are now much more affordable, with some as cheap as £50.
In this guide, we’ll help you to find Blu-ray players that deliver the best picture quality and sound quality. We’ll also tell you whether you need to fork out on premium players or whether a sub-£100 model will do the job just as well.
To see which Blu-ray players topped our tests, head to our best Blu-ray player reviews.
4K Ultra HD
While you might have heard of 8K TVs, 4K is the latest standard of image quality when it comes to Blu-ray players. It’s an incredible four times sharper than Full HD, displaying content in a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160. It’s worth bearing in mind that to get the benefits of high quality viewing with 4K UHD, you’ll need a 4K-ready TV and 4K Blu-ray discs.
Standard Full HD
It might not be as advanced as 4K UHD but Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) is still a good resolution for watching your favourite films or TV shows, allowing you to see the tiniest details in content that you’re watching.
You may not have known that some games consoles come with Blu-ray players pre-installed into the device. The most popular consoles, the Xbox and Playstation, both have this feature and we expect it to remain on the Playstation 5, launching in late 2020.
The amount of money you spend on a Blu-ray player depends a lot on the kinds of features that you want. The cheapest models with limited capabilities can cost less than £100, while more advanced players such as those with smart features could set you back £300 or more.
£179The cheapest Best Buy blu-ray DVD player we've tested
There are some Blu-ray players with advanced capabilities, such as 4K image quality, that can be picked up for an affordable price. We’ve tested models that cost just over £100 with this ability, however typically these types of players are more expensive.
One thing to consider is the cost of fully enjoying these types of features. 4K Blu-ray discs tend to be more expensive than standard Blu-rays so you’ll need to decide whether you'll really use these features in the long term.
Most Blu-ray players will come with smart features. The most basic of these will be catch-up TV and streaming apps such as BBC iPlayer and Channel 4, but some brands have app stores where you can download additional apps. Most of these will be wi-fi enabled, so they will connect to your home network wirelessly, although some cheaper or older models will need to be physically attached to your internet router with an ethernet cable.
Many players also allow you to use screen mirroring so you can show video and music from other devices on your TV.
Discover which smart models excelled among our Blu-ray player reviews.
Some players come with a built-in wi-fi connection. This is useful if you want smart features but don’t want to trail ethernet cables around your house.
Most of the cheaper players will output sound through their HDMI port. This is sufficient for most people’s home cinema needs, but if you want to connect your player to a more sophisticated setup you may want to go for one that has a digital optical, digital coaxial or analogue audio output.
Not all Blu-ray players display discs in native 4K UHD as a standard function, but some will allow you to upscale picture quality to 4K. This means that your Full HD content will be turned into as close as 4K as possible, giving it additional detail for even better viewing.
3D Blu-ray films
3D-ready Blu-ray players are fairly common and many of those we test can play 3D discs. With this capability, you’ll be able to bring action to life with 3D effects. It’s worth considering that to view 3D content, you will need a 3D-capable TV.
Good for DVDs
It's easy to overlook DVD quality, but not all are made equal - if you have a large DVD collection then make sure you find a Blu-ray player that receives a good rating for DVD standard definition (SD) picture quality. We test DVD quality on every single Blu-ray player we review, so even if you just want a cheap model to play DVDs we can tell you which will do any disc justice.
Find out which models make our list of the best cheap Blu-ray players under £100.