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Best Blu-ray Player 2016: 5 best Blu-ray players right now

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BlurayRoundup

Discs aren't dead yet. Sure, we live in an age of streamed media, and although services such as Netflix and Amazon would love for DVDs and Blu-rays to disappear, it isn't going to happen any time soon.

If you've invested in a TV and soundbar, then maybe it's time you thought about adding a disc spinner to the setup. Blu-ray players are a must for those who prioritise picture and sound quality, or those who don't want to rely on a film collection that lives in the cloud, with titles evaporating with every given day.

Now is an exciting time for Blu-ray players. Not only is it possible to get your hands on great Wi-Fi-enabled models for well under £100, but 4K Blu-ray decks have finally arrived too.

They're the best way for people with 4K TVs, but less-than-lightning-fast internet, to get Ultra HD films into their home. There are only two 4K Blu-ray players on the market right now, and both are good enough to make it into our list.

UHD Blu-ray decks aren't cheap, though. So we've also included several picks for those happy with 4K upscaling, and with Full HD rather than 4K TVs. After all, a great 1080p picture is better than a bad 4K one.

What is Ultra HD Blu-ray?

The rollout of UHD Blu-ray machines won't happen overnight. Panasonic and Samsung have already released their first models, and the Philips BDP7501 is another early contender, but fans of Yamaha, Oppo and LG machines will have to wait.

If you're set on UHD Blu-ray, make absolutely sure the player you're considering supports the new standard. You may see the Sony UHP-H1 described as a 4K player, for example, but it actually only offers 4K upscaling.

For the uninitiated, UHD Blu-ray essentially refers to 4K Blu-ray discs. Whereas the current standard conforms to the Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, Ultra HD Blu-ray uses much higher-capacity discs to deliver films with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, which is the same as 4K TVs. The discs are fairly expensive right now, as is the norm for any new format.

What’s the difference between 4K upscaling and a real UHD Blu-ray? With a real UHD disc, the raw data caters for every pixel on your 4K TV. When upscaling, a player will use clever algorithms to emulate or approximate that extra data.

It’s a digital artist’s impression at 4K, if you like, but the results can often get eerily close to the real thing.

At the time of writing, there’s a boutique selection of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs out there, including recent AAA blockbusters such as The Revenant and some big-budget classics such as Independence Day. However, you can expect the selection to ramp up very quickly. Universal Pictures plans to release more than 100 4K Blu-rays by the end of 2016.

So while you ponder whether you’re happy with classic Blu-rays or UHD ones, take a look at our favourite Blu-ray player picks.

You can find out more about HDR and the new UHD Premium standard for HDR TVs with our helpful guides: HDR: What is it and why should you care? and What is UHD Premium?.

Ike Bottema

February 23, 2016, 12:42 am

You must be Kidding! Either that or you actually haven't tried the BP550 yourself.

OK the Blu-ray itself is fine. No issue there. But the WiFi frankly sucks ... like big time! Set it up to connect, Fine so far. but notice there are no options to speak of. IP address and DNS etc cannot be set manually for example. True, not many people play with that level of detail however get this... it doesn't save passwords! So when the link goes down and you reconnect, guess what, it's time to reenter the password again! That gets old real quick when the link is somewhat flaky.

That's bad enough but now you're connected and using Netflix say. Now you get to experience frequent pauses as the buffer overflows (presumably). Brings me back to several years ago using an underpowered PC and low-bandwidth Internet connection. "Oh it must be your connection" you say? No. Not so much. I have tried other Blu-ray players with WiFi as well as a WD TV Live media player that I can hook up easily to compare. Nothing performs as dismally as the BP550.

Another fail is the fact that no CD playlist info is displayed when playing music. And some CDs are flagged as faulty but reinserting them a few times will finally allow them to be played.

Out of a scale of 0 to 10, I rate this Blu-ray player a minus 5!

Ike Bottema

February 23, 2016, 12:53 am

I tried the Sony BDP-S5500 myself. Not bad. Slick setup and nice user interface. The remote isn't prone to fat-fingering so that's nice too. The biggest problem I have with the Sony is that the player has to call home to do anything. I found out about that after purchase because I was having a problem (can't recall exactly what it was) so went to the Sony site to get the manual --- you know when all else fails RTFM :) Anyway while at the site, I read some of the reviews and it seems many people had extended periods of Netflix unavailability because as it turns out, Netflix was working just fine but a Sony server was down (apparently for several weeks and not just a one-time thing) I said to myself "screw this, I'm not going to chance an unnecessary point of failure" so brought the unit back.

Ike Bottema

February 23, 2016, 12:57 am

The Samsung BD-J7500 isn't bad but the remote sucks big time. The buttons are too close together even the arrow navigation arrows. It becomes very frustrating attempting to navigate through menus esp when emulating keyboard functions. One wrong move and kiss a long string goodbye! So I kissed the player goodbye.

EM87

June 3, 2016, 6:41 pm

Eh, i'm buying the Sony BDP-S6500. It's just amazing for its price (100€).

Rex Steinkuller

June 12, 2016, 6:29 pm

So I got the Samsung BD-J5700 cause it has "Opera TV Store" but there's no Opera browser there?! Samsung support was clueless! I finally figured out, on my own, I should've gotten the J6300 which also has 3D which I don't want...arghh!

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