Just the Facts: Blu-ray Player Shopping & Tech Tips

What’s BD-Live? Should I worry about upscaling? Before you shop for a new player, here’s everything you need to know in a quick-read format. See our Top Player Picks.

Visit our How To Shop page for tips on shopping for Speakers, A/V Receivers, Flat Panel TVs and more.

WHY BLU-RAY?

  • Full 1080p HD resolution: Six times the pixel density and detail of standard definition DVD.
  • Highest quality audio: Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel and 7.1-channel “lossless” soundtracks that provide bit-for-bit reproduction of the original digital recording. Requires an HDMI connection to an audio/video receiver or surround processor.
  • Interactive features: Pop-up menus that can be called up for exploration and navigation without interrupting playback.
  • Picture-in-picture director commentaries and other extras that can accompany playback.
  • BD-Live content downloadable from the studios or other sources.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
  • Good video processing and upscaling of DVDs: These days nearly all Blu-ray players, even budget models, deliver superb image quality with Blu-ray discs. Some still do better than others with the upscaling of standard definition DVDs. Read Home Theater’s Blu-ray reviews
  • 3D playback: Even if you don’t have a 3D-capable display today, consider future-proofing yourself with a 3D Blu-ray player that will work with any new 3D TV you purchase later.
  • Internet streaming and Wi-Fi: Many players today use an Internet connection to directly stream movie and music services like Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and others. Some are equipped with Wi-Fi if you don’t have a wired Ethernet connection near your A/V rack.
  • Dual HDMI outputs: If you have an older AVR with HDMI version 1.3 that is unable to pass 3D signals, but you own a 3D-capable TV with HDMI version 1.4, you will need to connect your 3D Blu-ray player directly to the display rather than through the receiver. Players with dual HDMI outputs, though becoming more rare, allow you to simultaneously connect to your AVR using HDMI for the audio, which is required for playback of the highest resolution DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks from Blu-ray discs. See How to Connect a Blu-ray Player for more information on hook-up options.
  • Audiophile analog circuitry: Some Blu-ray players provide universal playback of all audio discs, including the high resolution SACD and DVD-Audio formats. Some of those also include high-end audiophile quality digital-to-analog converters (DACs) that feed multichannel analog audio outputs to deliver the highest possible sound quality.

See How to Buy a Blu-ray Player for more detailed information on features and options. Happy shopping!

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