5 best Blu-ray players to suit every budget

16th Oct 2009 | 09:00

5 best Blu-ray players to suit every budget

Bargain Blu-ray - Profile 2.0 players from £150 to £550

Top 5 Blu-ray players for all budgets

However much you may love your old upscaling DVD player, nothing compares to the thrill of seeing movies in all their native high-definition glory.

So if you were hanging on for prices to drop and technology to evolve before buying a Blu-ray player, then we've got news for you: the wait is over - good, cheap Blu-ray players are here.

With prices plummeting and BD Live now the norm, there's never been a better time to get into Blu-ray.

That said, the number of new players on the market is multiplying faster than a field of frisky rabbits, each one with its own set of features and connections, which makes it increasingly difficult to select the right one.

But we've made your choice a little easier by pitting five of the latest players against each other, to find out which one most deserves your hard-earned cash. Whatever the outcome, get ready to send that DVD deck to the scrapheap…

Blu-ray players on test today:

  • Sony BDP-S360 - £150
  • Sharp BD-HP22H - £155
  • Philips BDP7300 - £180
  • Oppo BDP-831 - £450
  • Pioneer BDP-LX52 - £540

Sony BDP-S360 - £150

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Sony BDP-S360 - £150

Basic, but solid pictures and an alluring price make the Sony BDP-S360 well worth serious consideration.

Read the full Sony BDP-S360 review.

Sharp BD-HP22H - £155

sharp

Sharp BD-HP22H - £155

Neither the features nor the picture prowess will topple the BD big guns, but BD Live support is a big plus.

Read the full Sharp BD-HP22H review.

Philips BDP7300 - £180

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Philips BDP7300 - £180

Lacks the panache of pricier players, but its step-up features and solid performance make it great value.

Read the full Philips BDP7300 review.

Oppo BDP-831 - £450

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Oppo BDP-831 - £450

A jack of all trades and a master of many, the Oppo is one of the best Blu-ray players around

Read the full Oppo BDP-831 review.

Pioneer BDP-LX52 - £540

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Pioneer BDP-LX52 - £540

Typically brilliant performance from Pioneer, although not the knockout feature set we expected at this astronomic price.

Read the full Pioneer BDP-LX52 review

TechRadar verdict

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Final verdict

We hoped that placing these five, quite disparate decks into the mix would throw up some surprises, but inevitably the pecking order is determined by price.

On the lowest rung of the ladder are our two budget entrants, the Sharp BD-HP22H and Sony BDP-S360.

The former finds itself at the bottom due to its barren feature list (which doesn't even include MP3 playback) and sluggish operation. Its picture quality is impressive, but no more so than any of the other four decks and, therefore, isn't enough to save it from last place ignominy.

The Sony nips in front with a slightly better array of features and a vastly superior user interface.

Picture quality is also impressive, which will make the £150 price tag all the more appealing if you're on a
tight budget, but despite this the Sony's bog-standard spec sheet won't be enough to persuade you to choose it over any of the remaining three players.

If you can find the extra £30 or so, it really is worth opting for the Philips BDP7300 as you get more connections, built-in memory, a USB port and more extensive multimedia support.

Although it's not quite in the same league as the Pioneer or Oppo when it comes to picture quality, it's strong enough to ensure that you won't be disappointed when you get down to the business of watching movies.

Deciding on the top two places was tricky, but just beaten into second spot is the Pioneer BDP-LX52.

With its movie star looks and a decent feature list, this player delivers truly sensational picture and sound quality, but despite its undoubted talents in the key areas it's not quite the all-singing, all-dancing Pioneer player we were expecting for the money.

X-Factor revealed

That means our Blu-ray champion is the Oppo BDP-831, which comes equipped with many features missing from the Pioneer (DVD-A and SACD playback, USB multimedia support, ultra fast disc loading, multichannel audio outputs) and offers a level of performance equal to that of its Japanese rival.

But most remarkably, it does so at a lower price.

Read the reviews:

Blu-ray player BD profile 2.0
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