Our five best Blu-ray Players of 2015
OK, we know that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are imminent, with CES 2016 just around the corner. Still, not everyone has a requirement for 4K Blu-ray and, of course, they will be priced higher than most in this list, which features many under £100. We have produced a fair number of Blu-ray Player reviews in 2015 and here are our best from budget to high end. As ever, the products are listed in no special order of preference.
LG BP350 - £64If 3D Blu-ray isn’t needed and you’re looking for a budget player that simply gets the job done, then there are worse ways of spending (December 2015) £65, or so. The build quality isn’t anything to write home about; there’s only a single HDMI connection for both video and audio and the remote is pretty poor but these are probably non-issues for the vast majority. On the plus side, the BP350 provides faultless Blu-ray playback as well as its excellent handling of standard definition DVDs. The LG is also a very capable media streaming device for sources both web-based and local. It boasts Sky’s NOW TV, Amazon Instant and Netflix all under one roof – and very few devices can claim that in the UK – as well as packing in BBC iPlayer, Spotify, Deezer and more. In fact you could almost justify the asking price based on the streaming capabilities, alone, but that combined with its obvious strengths as a disc player mean it’s a winner.
Sony BDP-S5500 - £79The BDP-S5500 is the second highest Blu-ray player in Sony’s budget line-up of disc spinners and offers HD upscaling, 3D playback and built-in WiFi over the lower models such as the BDP-S4500 earlier in 2015. It is built to a price point and you can see that in the size of the unit with no display on the front and a lack of on-player controls. It is also built of plastic and is lightweight so lacks a feeling of solidity. However, with all that said, what the S5500 offers is excellent Blu-ray playback of 3D and 2D discs, great upscaling of DVD titles and a complete selection of the best streaming apps for TV and Film content. Added to this is not only a wired LAN but you also get WiFi built-in and suddenly you have a very compelling all-in-one media box. Yes the build quality is a little cheap feeling, but the image quality and functionality will soon win you over.
Samsung BD-J7500 - £149
The Samsung BD-J7500 is an excellent disc player and Smart TV device rolled in to one attractive little box. It features dual HDMI output, for those with older AV Receivers and also 7.1 analogue audio outputs, for those that need them. Both of those connectivity options make it stand out from the crowd at this price-point but, of course, you get all the usual inputs and outputs too. Build quality is decent, rather than outstanding, with a rather noisy disc mechanism when seeking but it was quiet enough during playback, provided you’re not sat right on top of the player. The Smart TV features also enable the BD-J7500 to distinguish it from the pack, with virtually all the catch-up and streaming services you could want, in addition to a robust local and network media player. In terms of video playback, the J7500 is near flawless, too, with excellent video processing getting the most of whatever you throw at it. We’re not totally convinced the headlining 4K Scaling feature brings that much to the table, over and above what your Ultra HD TV will be capable of, but that hardly detracts from the package. The Samsung BD-J7500 smart, speedy and has some unique features in the sub £150 category.
Panasonic DMP-BDT700 - £399The DMP-BDT700 is Panasonic’s flagship Blu-ray player, boasting a high level of build quality and high performance features. The picture and sound quality is certified by THX, which is a rare sight these days and it also offers 4K Ultra HD resolution scaling of Blu-ray disc. If you are still interested in 3D playback then the BDT700 can also playback those discs and if you are a fan of analogue audio the player also offers high quality outputs for up to 7.1 channels. As you would imagine for a flagship unit the DMP-BDT700 is not a budget player and at current prices (December 2015), it will set you back £399. There is value in a player, however, with added connection possibilities and better audio performance. There are also the special features, 4K upscaling with Chroma technology, THX certification, Miracast and more. So, it is up to you when it comes to what is valuable in the system you have.
LG BP550 - £69It’s coming to something when you can pick up a fully-featured, 3D capable Blu-ray player for less than £70; and that’s exactly what the LG BP550 is. In truth, this player is pretty much identical to the BP350 at the top of the page, only with the inclusion of 3D output. The LG BP550 is a great buy with good connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, HDMI and digital audio out, an unfussy design plus an excellent range of major streaming apps; in fact, the LG players are one of the very few places you can find Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Instant Video under one roof. So, for this kind of money, you can actually pit it against regular media streaming devices like the Roku 3 or Amazon Fire TV. Add in the fact it plays both 2D and 3D Blu-rays perfectly, as well as ‘upscaling’ your DVD collection with great sympathy, and we have a winner on our hands.
So there you have it, five Blu-ray players for you to consider with most with prices that won’t break the bank. They all deliver great performance and pack in a range of excellent features. And, just think, this time next year we’ll be producing our Best 4K Blu-ray players list!
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