If you’re looking for the ultimate movie watching experience at home, then you’re going to need one of the best Blu-ray players. While DVD players and DVDs are still a thing, you’re just not going to get the same image quality with such an antiquated technology. Heck, even standard Blu-rays themselves are showing their age as we move into the age of the 4K Blu-ray.
So what should you look out for when looking for the best Blu-ray players? As with most things in life, it all comes down to budget and expectations. If money is no object and you just want the best 4K Blu-ray player then you’ll be spoilt for choice, but equally there are a ton of budget options out there for people who don’t have a 4K TV yet, and just want to experience the increased visual fidelity of Blu-rays on a HD TV.
If you do have a fancy new 4K TV though, then you should buy a Blu-ray player that makes the most of its features. If your TV supports HDR, or Dolby Atmos, then you should look at getting a similarly spec’d Blu-ray player. If you’re thinking of upgrading your TV to go with your Blu-ray player purchase, then check out our best TV buying guide.
We’ve picked the Sony BDP-S6700 as our best Blu-ray player, and the Panasonic DP-UB820EB as our best 4K blu-ray player, but both of those recommendations come with a caveat. If you’re asking for our honest advice, then the last option in our buying guide is the best choice for most people… buy an Xbox One S. This excellent video games console comes with a high quality 4K Blu-ray player built in and costs the same as many standalone devices, but this comes with a games console thrown in for the price.
1. Sony BDP-S6700 - Best overall
It’s hard to argue with the combination of value and features that the Sony BDP-S6700 offers, which is why we think it’s still the best blu-ray player on the market. While it’s not a true 4K device, it does offer excellent picture quality thanks to 4K upscaling. It’s not quite as good as true 4K, but it also costs three times less than most 4K players.
The Sony BDP-S6700 itself is quite small and lightweight, so you should have no problem fitting it into your home entertainment system alongside your other gadgets. And while it probably won’t win any beauty contests, it looks sleek and unassuming with a smooth black finish. It doesn’t have a display though.
Connectivity is great too, with WiFi and Bluetooth as standard. When connected to the WiFi, you can use the Sony BDP-S6700 to access some of the best TV streaming services too, which is useful if you don’t have a smart TV. You can access Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify and Pandora to name but a few apps.
- Read the Sony BDP-S6700 review.
2. Sony UBP-X800M2 - Best cheap 4K blu-ray player
If you’re looking to keep up with the most modern technology, then you’re going to want a 4K Blu-ray player and the Sony UBP-X700 is our top pick in that regard. Sure, there are more expensive models out there with extra bells and whistles, but the Sony UBP-X700 offers a fantastic true 4K experience from a reliable company, all at a very reasonable price.
While some Blu-ray players can upscale content to 4K, the Sony UBP-X700 can actually play content at a native 4K resolution meaning that 4K Blu-rays come out crystal clear and looking their best. It can still upscale sub 4K content too, to improve the visuals of your older Blu-rays and DVDs. You also get HDR support with the Sony UBP-X800M2, which makes colours more vibrant and realistic on screen.
Your audio experience gets a boost too thanks to high-resolution audio and DSEE HX upscaling, with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. And of course you get all the streaming apps you’d expect, though if you own a 4K TV you almost certainly already have access to these.
3. Panasonic DP-UB820EB - Best 4K Blu-ray player
While cheap 4K Blu-ray players are great and work just fine with most 4K TVs, if you’ve splashed out on a high-end 4K TV then you’ll want a premium 4K Blu-ray player like the Panasonic DP-UB820EB to go with it.
The Panasonic DP-UB820EB uses chroma processing to offer stunning picture quality that rivals what you’d see in a cinema. All the trimmings are here too, with support for HDR10, Hi-Res Audio and Dolby Vision. It even has voice control support and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can tie it into your smart home setup.
Your TV and movies should sound as good as they look too, thanks to the 7.1ch Analogue Audio Output which will let you hook up even the most demanding home theater system to help build that cinema level experience. Honestly, the only thing that gives us pause here is the price, but if money is no object and you demand perfection, this is the Blu-ray player for you.
4. LG BP175 - Best cheap Blu-ray player
If you just need a cheap Blu-ray player from a brand name you can trust, we think there’s no finer choice than the LG BP175. This model is a few years old now, sure, but it still does everything you need it to while keeping the cost low. It doesn’t offer much in the way of frills - it doesn’t play 4K, or support HDR, but if you just need a cheap Blu-ray player to go with your HD TV, this is a great budget option.
The LG BP175 offers video playback at full HD resolution (1080p), while also offering external HDD playback so you can plug in a hard drive and play digital files directly. On top of that it also has several TV and music streaming apps available for download including favorites like Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube.
5. Xbox One S - Best games console with a 4K Blu-ray player
Don’t worry, you haven’t accidentally clicked off onto another guide, this is still the best Blu-ray players. But while the Xbox One S is obviously a video games console, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that it also comes with a 4K Blu-ray player built-in. This isn’t some cheap knock off either, it’s the real mccoy. It supports HDR10 and offers video quality on par with most other Blu-ray players in its price range.
Considering the fact that most decent 4K Blu-ray players will set you back at least $300, and the Xbox One S costs around $300, this seems like a no brainer to us. You can either buy a Blu-ray player, or buy a Blu-ray player and a games console, which will give you access to a huge library of video games as well as streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus. We punch those numbers into our calculator, it makes a happy face.
Blu-ray players: what we tested, what we found
The best Blu-ray players are capable of playing a broad array of video and audio formats, including 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Below is a list of criteria to consider when looking for the best Blu-ray player for your home entertainment system.
Build Quality & Usability: Easy Interfaces & Scrolling
As home theater hardware, Blu-ray players aren't nearly as performance-tied as product families like smartphones or tablets. Still, ease of use plays a vital role in what makes the best Blu-ray player.
In our evaluations, we measured the performance of each player in several areas. Factors like cleanly designed interfaces and quick loading speeds were strong points for our top rated Blu-ray players. If you want to adjust settings, like audio sources and subtitles, you don't want to scroll through submenu after submenu. Similarly, we factored in the boot time of each Blu-ray player on stock settings into our ratings. While boot time was only one of several data points we used – many players have quick-start settings that allow for instantaneous power on times – it can be an indicator of player performance in secondary areas.
Qualitatively, we evaluated the design and build quality of each player and its accessories. While these specifications are secondary to player performance, they still play a strong role in daily use. Poorly designed remotes or players with low-quality bodies can be an inconvenience.
Connectivity: Cables, Cables & Cables for Your Player
Home theater setup can often quickly devolve into a mess of cables for various devices, but top Blu-ray players manage to work around these issues. Before making a purchase, consider your current home television and the cable types it needs to function. Do you want the player to use component or HDMI cables for connectivity? What audio standard does your home theater use if you have a secondary audio source? If you plan to use the player as a dedicated multimedia hub, do you want a USB port on the player?
In addition, internet connectivity is an important feature for most home users. Along with allowing streaming apps to function, internet connectivity allows your Blu-ray player to download updates when needed. Some budget players will only have an Ethernet jack for physical connections, but higher-end models include WiFi support.
Blu-ray players: what else is important?
Features by the Numbers: 3D & 4K Support
For most home users, Blu-ray players that provide basic high-definition playback functionality will be enough. However, higher-end and mid-range models increasingly provide features that were previously only found in premium models.
4K is a display standard that refers to media that plays at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and possesses higher image quality than traditional high-definition content. TVs with 4K support display content at this higher resolution. 4K compatibility on Blu-ray comes in two formats: Players with native support can play 4K content by default, while players with upscaling simulate a 4K image from a standard high definition source. Image quality on upscaling players will be usable on a 4K television but won't be comparable to native 4K content.
3D support is rarer these days, as the technology never really took off like TV manufacturers were hoping it would. But if you do have a 3D TV, there are still plenty of 3D capable Blu-ray players out there.
It can be a hassle to bounce between multiple electronic devices, especially when you add streaming services on top of them. Whether you’re trying to build the perfect home theater, or simply want to streamline your existing setup, getting a Blu-ray player with WiFi capabilities is one way to make things easier. A good Blu-ray player can connect to the internet and allow you to access video and music streaming apps – and it should support DLNA streaming in case you want to use the player to access your folder of downloaded videos and music.
A Blu-ray player with media apps allows you to switch between your physical Blu-ray collection and videos from popular streaming sources like Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. This isn’t a necessity if you already have a standalone streaming device, like Apple TV or Roku, though it may be nice to have streaming access regardless of which device you are using.
Having DLNA streaming support is also a plus if you have your own home media server. If you use Plex or a similar service, you can play your cherished video collection through your compatible Blu-ray player without having to change devices.
It’s worth noting that if you want to stream 4K content through your Blu-ray player, you’ll need to have a compatible television and a good enough internet connection in order to properly support it. In some cases, budget Blu-ray players won’t have all, or even some, of these features. We recommend opting for a mid- to high-end player so that you have all of these options available to you whenever you’re in the mood to watch some movies.