The blu-ray discs stay the popular trend in the video content watching for more than a decade now, in spite of the quick rise of the streaming technologies. And to watch them, the best blu-ray player is needed. And that should be the top blu ray players. There are issues, though. Sometimes, you can go with the older model enjoying the amazing quality of the video and sound. Here, we offer the selection of the best blu ray players in different nominations reflecting the most popular customer’s needs.
Region Coding – why so important?
Region Coding is the way the movie studios make people hate them. It is a protection code that is put into the blu-ray / DVD player and into the relevant discs in order to ensure that certain discs are played only on certain players. That is done to prevent people from watching the movie (already released in other areas) before it is released in local cinemas. The codes and regions (for blu-ray) go as follows:
- A – North and South America, Southeast Asia
- B – Europe, Africa, Middle East
- C – any other place on the globe.
So, the disc with B code won’t work in the C blu-ray player, and vice versa. In order to spare the annoyance and additional tweaking, it’s better to buy the player and discs that belong to your region.
There are also region-free blu ray players that can play any region-coded discs. Many of them are represented in the summary below.
The Best Blu Ray Players in Full View
Sony UBP-X800 – Amazingly Good Blu Ray Player
For the low price, this blu ray player produces the fairly good video quality. It does maintain 4K allowing seeing of the slightest details on the screen and brings the 100% natural brightness of the picture in HDR. For some of my old DVDs, the upscaling provided a much clearer picture. Besides, the film sequence was smooth in all formats. I had an issue setting up the resolution, which required tweaking with the menu (disabling and enabling the resolution auto-adjustment function), but other than that, didn’t have any trouble with it. The audio works great, too. The sound is crisp and distinct, all the declared effects (Theater Surround and Dolby Atmos) work properly. However, check that the BD sound mixing option is disabled – otherwise, it does not feed the surround audio content to the receiver. Overall, the setting is an easy one, is built on the intuitive basis, save some moments I just mentioned above. Highly recommend this region-free device as the best blu ray DVD player!
- I marvelled the great full 3D effect.
- Nice simple yet stylish design.
- Fast wireless and Bluetooth operation without a lip sync.
- No cables shipped along with the player.
- Incomprehensive updating procedure.
Sony BDP-S6700 – The Best Blu Ray DVD Player under $100
The bottom-low price of this device surprises, as this cool blu ray player with WiFi, performs many of the functions the players of a higher segment possess. It does a decent 4K upscaling (though does not provide a stunning native full-4K picture) and enables a clean natural HD sound. It was great to find out this best cheap blu ray player is region-free. The wireless worked flawlessly, there was no lag even in 4K-content streaming. This is definitely the best WiFi blu ray player under 100$. I tried YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, and Pandora. During the actual broadcast, some small issues happened. With Pandora, I had to log in each time after the player’s shutdown. The YouTube settings got default as well. Switching between the apps, the picture quality sometimes got worse featuring flickers and blurs. Restarting the player had helped solve the problem.
I liked the Android compatibility app. It was great to browse the photos on the 32-inch screen and get it upscaled to better contrast and detail. I really appreciate this device as the best budget blu ray player!
- DLNA sharing enabled connection with my old A/V receiver with outdated HDMI version.
- Smartphone remote control works well with apps (for Android).
- Supports a wide range of formats, including FLAC and MPEG-TS.
- No IOS compatibility.
- Infrared remote requires direct contact for operation.
Oppo UDP-203 – The Best 4K Blu Ray Player
This is the region-free device offering everything one might expect from the top rated blu ray player. It provides native 4K and HDR10 resolution. Needless to mention, the movie sequence flows fast preserving the highest quality in each separate film. However, what makes this blu ray player a state of the art is the head-spinning mix of the best possible video quality and the inimitable sound! The high-resolution audio even played some of my older CD records, produced a completely new, sharper yet not pitchy sound.
The setup requires a bit of user’s interference. Yet, spending this time is worth a while, as it allows delving into the additional capabilities of this top blu ray player. I connected it easily to the receiver and then used the original remote for performing the tuning. The remote has perfect ergonomics and an instant impact. The only essential thing missing from this awesome device is the streaming apps connectivity. Still, considering the player has been worked out to pair the native 4K TVs and other gadgets (that have streaming services by default), this feature should not become an issue.
- Updates installed automatically at the first turning on.
- Fast and noiseless disc loading.
- Compatible with Apple products.
- An expensive unit.
- Would like the disc eject button to have a backlight.
Samsung UBD-K8500 – The Best Blu-Ray Player for Next-Gen Video
This mid-priced region-free blu ray player provides the perfect native HDR and 4K video both from streaming apps and the physical discs. While the former ones are a bit annoying to use due to the non-instantaneous response, the video playing from the original 4K and HDR blu-ray discs is a bomb! It flung me into a world of the sharp contrasts, precise detailing, and untamed colors. However, to ensure the seamless satisfaction, it is worth acquiring the HDMI Premium or at least High-Speed cables, compliant with HDCP 2.2. Otherwise, the 4K content just does not show properly.
The basic operations with the player are easy to perform. The fast loading of the horror movie disc took me unawares, thrusting the creepy every-inch clear picture with the space-deep black and the freezing sound (thanks DTS HD Master Audio for the powerful attack through all of my 7.2 speakers’ set) on me. However, upscaling the DVD did not produce a similar effect. Though I tweaked the settings assiduously, trying the different modes (which was annoying due to somewhat slow remote response), both the video and sound did not impress much with the change.
- Easy initial setup.
- Maintains 3D format – right for retro buffs as I am.
- Touch sensitive front panel controls for quick operation.
- A cheap-felt plastic build.
- No interactive display.
The Best Blu Ray DVD Player for Gaming and Movie Watching Xbox One S
This amazingly popular gaming console has another ace up the sleeve. It is also a professional UHD blu ray player delivering a great 4K effect and maintaining HDR10! There’s no need to decide what to shell money for, the gaming console or the quality blu ray player. Xbox One S is hidden behind the stylish minimalistic design of this powerful duo.
Though the 4K format is not native here – it works rather in the upscaling mode. Still, it provides an impeccable clarity and highlights the tiniest details making the gaming graphics superb. The advanced sound formats complete the presence creating the virtual world. Still, there is no Dolby Atmos support in this console, I also tested other options of this top rated blu ray player — the streaming apps like Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, etc. all work in 4K and HDR-compatible format and being synced really fast!
- Immediate loading and installing of the discs.
- Superb video quality even at the fast-changing gaming interface.
- Smart setup with the automatic option.
- Region-coding enabled on this device.
The Top Bluray Player for Dolby Vision Sony UBP-X700
This blu ray player provides the high-quality HDR format and 4K upscaling. The Dolby Vision built-in mode allows reaching the true presence effect, control the sharpness of graphics, and playing of the contrasts. The player operates the majority of the existent recording formats including DVDs, WAV, etc. The sound modes are also diverse, the surround effect works impressively. I had no issues setting it up, just fiddled with options a bit configuring the optimal audio for my A/V receiver (already tuned for the acoustic set). I strongly appreciate the separate HDMI audio output that allows ensuring different data flows in each channel, creating the platform for the crystal clear multi-channel sound. The HDMI connects worked well since they all were HDCP 2.2 compatible. I controlled the player from the included remote; however, the smart TV’s remote can also be used. In general, this mainstream video technology is a good value for the price it is offered for.
- The user-friendly interface allows quick & smart setting.
- Regular free updating of the firmware.
- Region-free option enabled watching the precious gift blu-ray sent from another side of the world.
- The charging adapter is too big blocking the space near the output.
- Dust particles on the disc might cause malfunction.
The Mainstream Oppo UDP-205 — The Best Region Free Blu Ray Player
This professional device plays all the popular disc formats from anywhere in the world, and it well should, considering its price! The latter is three times bigger than the cost of another premium best blu-ray player – but it’s worth it. Both the sound and video quality produced by this player are state of the art and delivered by means of the latest version of the physical connectivity (HDMI, as well as analog). I tried to connect the headphones via the special connection and was floored by the powerful distinct stereo sound! Then, I switched it to my 9.2 Martin Logan speakers’ system with the Polk Audio subwoofers, and the Atmos got me frozen in my chair with its powerful attack and backstage yet fully felt bass. Adding the full HDR10 compatibility (the native one – no compromise on this here) and 4K resolution, this awesome multi region blu ray player creates a virtual reality on its own, featuring the superb video and sound. There is no lip sync, due to the rock solid Wi-Fi connectivity. I had no delay at all, even when switching between the apps and forming the playlists.
- Made of the high-quality metal.
- The HDMI jitter-circuit provides clear stereo sound.
- It is fully region free (both for blu-ray and DVDs).
- I’d love to have Bluetooth for using my wireless headphones.
- Does not support WAV files with 32-bit depth – if you ever happen to use it.
Sony BDP-S6500 — A Workhorse among the Best Blu Ray Players
This nice budget blu-ray player does not impress with the sophisticated design or advanced options, yet it has nearly everything the average blu ray player is expected to have. It works fairly well with the TVs below 4K and makes the upscaling to the 4K format, too. However, the native 4K discs might not be recognized. This does not concern streaming content, though.
This player supports various sound formats from LPCM 2-channel to Dolby True HD bitstream and produces the distortionless voluminous sound. It features the enhanced control options (in comparison with the players of its segment) allowing rewinding and skipping the scenes with the different speed. The overall operation of this player is reliable and responsive — it answers the remote commands in an instant and performs them well. It has a special button for enabling the “region free” mode, and an offset of “pause-play” controls, which is very helpful. Yet it might not remember the login data, while the overall quality of streaming is really nice.
- Compact size fits any bookshelf.
- Clear detailed manual for quick setting.
- The controls are comprehensive even for a non-techie.
- Small memory storage for the Internet browser.
- Does not feature the A-B repeat option.
Philips BDP7502 — The Movie Buff’s Top Rated Blu Ray Player
This is the native 4K and HDR blu ray player, designed to excel in the image shaping and presentation. Colors are vivid and warm, edges seem to be cut out of the stone – this Dolby Vision supported image mixing is really rock solid! I raved about its performance on the 4K Apple TV and enjoyed some quite good upscaling on the older 2K Samsung. Even DVD performance featured more balance and detail. I also ran the 3D movie on it, and the effect was stunning for the correct composition of the shadow and light.
The software is not too diverse. It has the built-in irreplaceable YouTube and Netflix, both broadcasting the HDR content without any lip sync. Still, that’s just these two – no Pandora, Spotify, Hulu or any other popular service. The sound quality is high, it has very nice crisp highs and solid confident lows. The surround mode did not automatically turn on, so I had to go through settings in order to change the modes applied for the HDMI output. By the way, it’s good to have an additional HDMI for plugging in the A/V receiver or a PS4, for example.
- Automatic tuning with the 4K TV.
- Fast loading of blu-rays.
- Good intuitive remote control design.
- The setup menu requires brain effort (with all its left and right columns).
- The player has enabled region coding.
Samsung UBD-M9500 — The Awesome Blu Ray Player for Streaming
This device is notable for many of its functions, still, its most modern feature is a full-pack of built-in streaming apps that work right out of the box. Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Vudu work like a clockwork without requiring the updates’ instalment first (as most of the devices do).
I particularly liked the Netflix app for maintaining the HDR and showing the utmost picture-in-motion quality. For that, I rated this masterpiece of electronic design as the best blu ray player for streaming Netflix.
The entry data is remembered by the device so that I didn’t need to bother inserting it again. The blu-ray player acts as a hub for the home theater system, making the A/V receiver withdraw. I could stream both on my TV (4K and HDR enabled), my IPhone, and the Samsung tablet. The connectivity was really fast. I only wished there was a 4K enabled in all of the apps. Its advanced version enabled the pure rich sound to fill my Dr. Dre headphones and create a great stereo effect. Overall, this is a great multi-functional device that completely changes the idea of the top rated blu ray player, transforming it into the media hub for your home.
- Automatic HDR recognition and tuning.
- I could tune the device through smart UI menu.
- The mind-blowing sleek design.
Blu Ray vs. DVD – What’s the Difference?
In physical build, there is none. Both formats are located on the discs of the same size and texture. Yet, it’s a bit more complicated with reading the data.
- Blu-ray is a technology using a thin blue laser for creating the data storage tracks, or grooves on the disc’s surface. This technology enables packing of 25 GB of the high definition video onto one disc. Today, there are also multi-layer blu-ray discs available that can stock up to 350 GB.
- DVD is created by means of the red laser, which is thicker and performs wider grooves. Thus, a DVD disc can contain up to 4.7 GB of data. If it is a high definition format, such a movie won’t last more than 30 minutes. There are also double-layer DVDs that can accommodate up to 8.7 GB.
While the DVDs can be read precisely by the blu-ray players, the red laser in DVD players is incapable of extracting the information from the narrower blu-ray grooves. So, buying a blu-ray player, you kill two birds, as you get one device for at least two formats.
Native 4K Support vs. 4K Upscaling
In the descriptions of the TV devices, blu-ray players and other video electronics, the words like “native 4K’ or “advanced 4K upscaling” can be spotted. Here, we offer a short explanation of the both and of the difference between them.
What is 4K Upscaling and is It Worth This?
While the high-resolution 4K TVs make their way through and into the video buffs’ homes as a global trend, the actual video content created in this format is few. Viewing the content of the lower resolution (e.g., 1080p) would result in picture taking the one-fourth of the screen. Not much sense, right? So, here comes upscaling – a process of adjusting the lower resolution picture to the higher format. As a result, the picture fills the screen completely.
Upscaling vs. Native Resolution: the Copy and the Original
Though upscaling fits the picture into the higher resolution, thus increasing detailing a bit, it stays the artificial pixel-stretching, which produces the image that cannot be classified as the “native 4K”. The native resolution picture is much sharper, more detailed, features more contrast. Though the upscaled DVD might look better on 4K TV than played on an old 720p screen, it won’t be able to compete with the native 4K content displayed on it.
The blu-ray player’s performance and options make a vast field for comparison. Video and audio quality, additional apps, connectivity, easiness of control and setting, etc. Here below, we outlined two nominations concerning the secondary attributes of the blu-ray players, that yet influence the operation and user’s satisfaction greatly.
The Best Region Free Blu Ray Player – the amazing Oppo UDP-205 is a champion of the region-free blu-ray players, letting its owner watch and listen the content from any place on the globe without restrictions and in the superb quality. The tough build and the cool design supported by the bundle of the useful option make this expensive engineering masterpiece a welcome acquisition in any home theater.
The Best Budget Blu-Ray Player – for the steady functioning and the variety of options offered at less than $100, the most practical blu ray player Sony BDP-S6700 receives a winner’s medal in the contest. Though it doesn’t offer the native 4K, the upscaling is quite decent, while the original blu ray HD discs do leave an impression when processed on this blu-ray player. Besides, it can play almost any format you choose, for both the video and audio content.