£120 to £150

Philips BDP7500 Mk II

£134.99 - www.atlantic2u.com

This is a souped-up version of the original BDP7500 that was launched in early 2010, and the main new addition is 3D playback, which means Philips has a Blu-ray proposition to pair with its latest range of 3D TVs.

Visually the Philips BDP7500 Mk II rubs you up the right way from the word go, with its luxurious build quality – far and above what you’d normally expect from a sub-£200 deck – a glamorous silver finish and a mirrored fascia, illuminated alluringly by a subtle blue light.

Connections are also excellent – the updated HDMI v1.4 output sits alongside a USB port for Philips’ Wi-Fi adapter (another port for multimedia playback is found on the front) and pleasingly there’s a set of 7.1-channel analogue outputs, which like the Samsung solves a problem if your amp lacks HDMI v1.4 inputs and you want to enjoy 3D pictures and HD audio simultaneously.

Although the feature list doesn’t live up to that of the Sony, it’s still impressive. There’s 1GB of storage on board for BD Live, you can access selected websites (and unusually the internet at large) through Philips’ Net TV service and stream media from your home network. It supports a wide range of file formats too, and everything is easy to control thanks to the simplified, icon-led operating system.

3D pictures are slick and boast spellbinding clarity, give or take a bit of crosstalk on some LCD TVs, while 2D pictures sizzle from the screen with exceptional detail retrieval, rich colours and cinematic solidity. All in all, a great Blu-ray deck.

Sony BDP-S570

£149.95 (with VAT cashback scheme) – www.richersounds.com

As our 2010 award winner for Best Blu-ray player, you probably already know that the 3D-ready BDP-S570 is something special. But what you may not have realised is that such greatness won’t cost you the earth – we found it online for a smidgeon under £150. Sony offers an even cheaper alternative in the BDP-S470, which also plays 3D discs but lacks some of the frills that make the S570 a must-buy.

It’s probably not the most exciting player to look at, despite the best efforts of the modern, slimline design, but with a feature list this generous we’re not too fussed.

Like the LG BX580, it boasts built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA media streaming and access to web content, this time through the magnificent BRAVIA Internet TV. This offers an unbeatable range of websites and catch-up TV services including BBC iPlayer, Demand Five, LoveFilm, YouTube, Dailymotion, Eurosport, plus news, music videos, sport, lifestyle and podcasts. Awesome.

The fact that Wi-Fi and 1GB of storage are both built in means that the two USB ports – one on the front, one on the rear – can be exclusively used to play back digital media, and an extensive range of them too. As if that wasn’t enough, you can also spin SACDs and call up media information from the online Gracenote database.

Still need convincing? How about the superb onscreen operating system (Xross Media Bar) which is generally regarded as the most user-friendly menu system around. Disc loading is also fast, and picture quality – both 3D and 2D – is exemplary.

Others may match it on the picture quality front, but when you bring features and ease of use into the equation Sony’s deck has no equal.

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