For a true movie theater experience at home, nothing beats the image quality and 7.1 surround sound offered by an ultra-high-definition 4K Blu-ray. With a storage capacity of up to ten times that of a standard DVD, movies stored on Blu-ray disks require very little compression and can have a pixel resolution of up to 1920×1080, approximately three times more detailed than a progressive scan DVD player.
In addition to the improved resolution, most Blu-ray players also offer additional features such as Dolby Atmos for pulse-pounding surround sound or UHD for vibrant colors. Even with these features, a good Blu-ray player can be surprisingly affordable. Keep reading for our tips on shopping for one of your own.
- What You Should Know Before Buying a Blu-Ray Player
- Final Considerations
What You Should Know Before Buying a Blu-Ray Player
It is not too complicated to choose a random cheap Blu-ray player. However, it is with specific requirements that the choice starts to get complicated. For example, several streaming services won’t work on some players at all. Others support hundreds of streaming services. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Size and Design
The size and the design of a Blu-ray player are important. They can dictate the way it looks next to the TV. Most cheap Blu-ray players are smaller than regular DVD players so they won’t need as much storage space.
However, the design of the player is important, especially with wired products. Wireless Blu-ray players are known for their simple user experience. Wired options need to be stored in an area with easy access. At least three cables need to be connected to a wired Blu-ray player.
The first cable to connect is the power cable. The player also needs internet input via its LAN port. USB ports can also be used with HDMI TV connectivity. Connecting and disconnecting these cables requires time and easy access. Even if these players are small, they might still not be stored at the back of the TV due to the access requirements.
The design of the player also includes the design of the remote control. Unfortunately, many cheap Blu-Ray players come with poorly-designed remote controls, which are considerably smaller than those used to control the TV.
Supported Video and Audio Quality
Video and audio quality is the main driver behind a Blu-ray purchase. Not all users can enjoy the same video quality. Full HD images are supported, and in some cases, higher resolution video is supported as well.
The same variable applies to audio quality. With different codecs, the audio quality can vary from device to device. However, a few other aspects can influence video quality. For example, a low-quality HDMI cable might not be the best solution for leading resolution capabilities. Even more, a slow internet connection seriously limits the streaming capabilities and final results. Even the highest movie resolution is not going to go far if internet connectivity is slow.
Video and audio quality can also be improved with up-scaling technologies. Such tech is often included in some of the cheapest Blu-ray players. However, it cannot make a substantial difference in most cases. What can be improved is streaming speed with lower quality video settings for those with slower internet speeds.
Streaming options are nearly the go-to characteristic for many potential Blu-ray users. All users need the most popular services, like YouTube and Netflix. However, only a handful of manufacturers offer support for these services on their entry-level products.
While there are different bypassing methods to stream these services, some Blu-ray players cannot work with them at all. Furthermore, it is also advisable to check for the list of supported streaming channels, especially when looking for services that are not as popular as Hulu.
Integrating the Blu-ray player with multiple TVs is possible. However, it only streams from one channel, and it shows the same video on all TVs. Most importantly, the streaming services advertised by many manufacturers are premium services, and they will require a membership.
Wireless and HDMI Connectivity
Not all Blu-Ray players come with wireless connectivity. Some of them only use HDMI cables to connect to a TV or a gaming console. At the moment, there are sufficient reliable options to choose a wireless Blu-Ray player if this is a priority. However, in most cases, even those which feature wireless connectivity can still encounter various problems such as lag from time to time and even complete loss of signal, which requires a hard reset.
There are options that are now packed as a bundle. Users can purchase a Blu-ray player and a data cable together, as seen with the examples above. However, many of these cables can be short for the actual distance which needs to be covered. Six feet is the average HDMI cable length offered in bundle deals. Acquiring a longer HDMI cable may still be required.
Smartphone App Integration
Some of the best Blu-ray players now come with smartphone integration. They can be controlled via various apps, or they can be monitored on your smartphone. From selecting streaming channels to adjusting audio levels, these apps vary in functionality as well.
Sony’s SideView app is one of the advanced solutions in its class. It allows users to access content from other devices connected to the local network. This is why the streaming video may also come from other sources, not just the Blu-ray player itself. As a result, videos and photos taken by smartphones can be streamed as well. Those with various mobile online subscriptions can also transfer them on the TV with some of these apps.
What Is an HDMI Cable?
An HDMI cable is specifically made to deal with high-quality video and audio data transfer. Such a cable is not included with most cheap Blu-ray players.
Does a Cheap Blu-Ray Have a Remote Control?
Most Blu-ray players include a remote control. They are used to switch between streaming channels or to select the output method from wired to wireless.
What Is Video up-Scaling?
Video up-scaling improves the quality of a video file to nearly HD resolution. It is an automatic adjustment that improves the standard video quality, mainly from DVD quality.
Can I Connect a Blu-Ray Drive to the TV?
A Blu-ray drive is mainly used to connect to computers. They can’t be connected to a TV.
Is Spotify Supported on a Blu-Ray Player?
Some players can support Spotify. However, many cheap devices do not support the streaming service, and users are required to do the product research if they want to use Spotify before the purchase.
Do I Need to Pay a Netflix Subscription to Watch Movies?
Even if a Blu-ray player supports Netflix, it doesn’t mean it also pays the user’s monthly subscription. It is still up to every user to set up an account with the streaming service.
Is My Blu-Ray Player Slow?
If the player is slow, it is a sign of a lag. For example, on bootup, some players can take a few seconds to load. When connecting the player to the TV, users can also encounter lagging.
Even the best cheap Blu-ray players are capable of going the distance when it comes to video quality. For a more immersive entertainment experience, many users prefer them to DVD players. As seen above, there are many reasons why they are superior.
The options listed above can also play DVD quality images. Some of them may even improve them with up-scaling features. But most of the current Blu-ray players are made to offer the most advantages in the smallest design.
This is why products that connect to online streaming services immediately open up content sources. Both wired and wireless players can do this. Those choosing a wired Blu-ray player need to add an Ethernet cable to their device to get it online.
When it comes to daily use, these players’ sound level seems to be the biggest complaint. This is the case specifically with Blu-ray discs. However, many devices are not louder than a traditional DVD reader. Others implement distinct technologies to keep the noise level and even the audio from disturbing other people in the house. For example, LG has the Private Sound Mode function, which allows users to stream the audio directly to their wireless headphones.
This means there’s no more disturbing the family members while they sleep. All of these characteristics are already seen on premium Blu-ray players. But they show that even when using a budget solution, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy entertainment at high video and audio quality.