Blu-ray Player Buyers Guide

Blu-ray logoNow that Blu-ray players are firmly established as a home cinema essential, we have had a look at what you should consider when purchasing your first (or next if you’re an early adopter) player.

In general, Blu-ray players are very similar to DVD players – they connect to your TV and play movies! However, to get the best from them there is one vitally important thing to consider: is your television recent enough to get the benefit?

By recent we mean an HD Ready television that will display 720p or 1080p, and has an HDMI socket on the back. If you’ve bought a television since 2006, the chances are you’ll be good to go and can look forward to beautiful high def glory. But even if you haven’t, all is not lost. It is possible to connect a Blu-ray player via a component cable (sometimes even an s-video cable) to a CRT television – you won’t of course get the high definition benefit but it is possible!

You also need to consider four other things that may have a bearing on what player you should choose.

  1. Region – Blu-ray players are region locked in a similar way to DVD players. Many are still able to be bought, or converted, to play any region, but it’s always best to buy a player from your region or country. Read our guide to Blu-ray regions for more information on this.
  2. Blu-ray Profile – Blu-ray is still a relatively new format, and the specification was still being developed whilst the first players were being sold. As the specification advanced, each one was given a ‘profile’. You can read more in our guide to Blu-ray profiles, but as a quick guide, its best to buy one that is at least Profile 1.1, or preferably Profile 2 (BD-LIVE).
  3. Connections – as well as the necessary HDMI output, players will also often have a component output, and a digital optical audio output. If you have an existing surround sound amplifier or all-in-one system, you will want to make sure that the Blu-ray player has the connections you require. Often only the higher models in the range will have a 5 or 7 audio output sockets
  4. DVD Playback – unless you plan to keep your existing DVD player, you will want to consider how good the player is at playing standard DVDs. We’ve always thought this is vitally important and we always comment on this in our reviews. Believe it or not, some Blu-ray players have actually been quite a bit worse than a normal DVD player at playing stand DVD’s, although thankfully, most are getting as good if not better now.

Other things to consider:

  • Start up times – Some of the early players would take well over a minute from the moment it was turned on, to actually playing the film. Although they are much better now, if you’re the impatient type, make sure you look out for mentions of this in our reviews
  • Blu-ray disc prices – Like all new technologies, the price of the discs is still very high compared to DVDs, which are at historically low prices and currently fantastic value. Buying only 2 Blu-ray discs could cost you as much as 8 DVDs, so you may wish to consider renting. Read our guide on DVD and Blu-ray rental services.
  • Sound – if you have an HD Ready amplifier or receiver you might want to make sure the player can output bitstream HD sound so your amp can do the sound processing.

Why you should NOT buy a Blu-ray player

If you do not have an HD Ready television or cannot connect via HDMI or Component, then its not really worth you upgrading to Blu-ray yet. Just enjoy your DVD player, and spend the money on those plentiful, cheap DVDs!

Why you should buy a Blu-ray player

We’re sure you know the reason for this now, but if you can connect a Blu-ray player via HDMI to your HD Ready television, you’ll be in visual heaven! The images are so sharp, and the colour density so good, you’ll be buying nothing but Blu-ray discs from now on!

You can find information and the best prices on all the latest players in our Blu-ray Players section, or for further information, the following articles may be useful:

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