Top 10 budget Blu-ray players

Ten cheap Blu-ray players battle it out for the top spot

  • Battle of the budget Blu-ray players

    Back in 2006, an entry-level Blu-ray player would set you back $1200 or more. Today, the most you can expect to pay is around $500. In other words, there has never been a better time to join the HD video revolution. (Come on in, you'll like it!)

    Today's Blu-ray Disc players do a lot more than play Blu-ray movies. Nearly every model in our Top 10 has an Ethernet port for accessing Internet-based content via BD-Live, and some even boast inbuilt Wi-Fi. They can also read digital images and music files from USB or SD cards. Some can even play AVCHD camcorder footage and other video formats such as DivX.

    The Blu-ray players featured in this article range from bargain-basement models to more expensive offerings, but they all cost between $250 and $550. We've ranked these Blu-ray players in order from the least impressive (but still good value) to the most impressive budget BD player.

    All of these players produce enticing high-def images, but we noted differences in image quality and in how the players handled standard-definition footage. There, the Panasonic DMP-BD60K and the Sony BDP-S560 earned top honours.

    For those who would prefer not to spend a fortune, these are the Blu-ray players you should have on your short list. [Note: because we are focusing on price, the review scores for each model do not necessarily reflect their ranking on the list.]
  • 10. [[artnid:331185|Toshiba BDX2000 high-definition player]] (RRP: $329)

    Limited extras and an awkward remote for the Toshiba BDX2000 let us down initially. But for a bargain price, this player does one thing well: It brings Blu-ray discs and DVDs to life. Its image quality was superior in just about all of our tests. It did a particularly good job at upscaling DVDs, showing an incredible level of detail. On the downside, its boxy remote control can be clumsy to use.

    You won't be disappointed if you don't expect much else.

    Pros: Terrific image quality
    Cons: Clumsy remote control, annoying front flap

    [[artnid:331185|Read our full review of the Toshiba BDX2000 high definition player]]

  • 9. [[artnid:323791|Panasonic DMP-BD80 Blu-ray player]] (RRP: $549)

    The Panasonic DMP-BD80 is a top brass Blu-ray player with a respectable brace of bells and whistles. Highlights include inbuilt Picasa/YouTube browsing, an SD card slot for easy media file access, 7.1ch surround sound, an optical digital audio output and advanced 1080p upscaling.

    If you specifically require 7.1ch audio and DivX playback, it's pretty hard to beat. Otherwise, plump for its cheaper DMP-BD60 stable mate.

    Pros: Good multimedia playback, access to YouTube, superb 1080p video quality and upscaling.
    Cons: Start-up times could be faster, too similar to DMP-BD60.

    [[artnid:323791|Read our full review of the Panasonic DMP-BD80 Blu-ray player]]
  • 8. [[artnid:331185|Sony BDPS560 Blu-ray player]] (RRP: $289)

    The Blu-ray players we've reviewed uniformly deliver on their promises of resplendent image quality on Blu-ray discs, but many fall behind in the task of upscaling regular DVDs. Not so with the Sony BDP-S560.

    In our tests this model impressively handled regular DVDs (as well as both colour and black-and-white Blu-ray). Sony intelligently included two USB ports (one in the front and one in the back), Wi-Fi connectivity and a power-saving option as well.

    If Sony had also endowed the BDP-S560 with the multimedia options available elsewhere, this player would have been unstoppable. On the plus side, it's one of the cheapest units on the market.

    Pros: Built-in Wi-Fi, power-saving features, great image quality.
    Cons: Multimedia features for photos only, poor remote.

    [[artnid:331185|Read our full review of the Sony BDPS560 Blu-ray player]]
  • 7. [[artnid:316874|LG BD390 Network Blu-ray Disc Player]] (RRP: $574)

    Thanks to a winning combination of remarkable Blu-ray image quality and seemingly boundless networking possibilities, the LG BD390 won our affection.

    Okay, so LG's player comes in at the higher end of the price spectrum -- but we think it's worth it, for a few reasons. You can connect to the Internet over an Ethernet connection or through the system’s built-in Wi-Fi (this is one of the few budget players to offer such an option).

    In addition to integrated Wi-Fi, the LG BD390 comes with everything you’d expect from a quality Blu-ray player, including 7.1-channel HD audio, a USB port for viewing multimedia, 1GB of on-board memory and DivX playback support.

    Unfortunately, the less-than-perfect remote requires some getting used to due to the sluggish buttons. Nevertheless, the BD390 remains a winner.

    Pros: Integrated Wi-Fi, superb BD image quality, good DVD upscaling, fast load times Cons: Expensive, remote needs improvement

    [[artnid:316874|Read our full review of the LG BD390 Network Blu-ray Disc Player]]
  • 6. [[artnid:340101|Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray player]] (RRP: $449)

    The Samsung BD-P3600 sports a unique, rounded design that looks striking but may not be practical -- it puts the navigation buttons on the top and makes the connectors on the back difficult to reach.

    Nonetheless, images appear crisp, the remote is spot-on, and the Internet connection (Wi-Fi is included) allows you to stream content from YouTube. It comes with plenty of high-end features for AV enthusiasts while remaining simple and user-friendly.

    Pros: Impressive image quality, Wi-Fi support, eye-catching design.
    Cons: Unconventional button placement, Wi-Fi requires a USB dongle, could be a little bit cheaper.

    [[artnid:340101|Click here to read our full review of the Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray player]]
  • 5. [[artnid:296157|LG BD370 Blu-ray player]] (RRP: $401)

    The LG BD370 is an excellent Blu-ray player in most areas. It boasts excellent HD picture quality, BD-Live connectivity and USB playback.

    While we found the LG BD370 to be a good option for Blu-ray discs, it didn't fare as well in upconverting regular DVDs. In our tests, though, it loaded discs in a snappy 34 seconds.

    The on-screen menus are easy to use, and the player can also access online content via the Ethernet port.

    Pros: Excellent DVD upscaling, very good Blu-ray picture quality, can connect to YouTube, can play and display media from USB 2.0 thumb drives, BD-Live capable.
    Cons: No 7.1-channel analog outputs.

    [[artnid:296157|Read our review of the LG BD370 Blu-ray player]]
  • 4. [[artnid:317126|Sony PlayStation 3 Slim (120GB)]] (RRP: $499)

    The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim is an unusual choice if you're simply looking for a Blu-ray player. But if you also have need of a game console, it's the best deal on the market by far. The PS3 Slim is a versatile games machine that improves on its [[artnid:183285|portly predecessor]] in a number of ways. It also comes with inbuilt Wi-Fi and a 120GB hard drive; perfect for storing photos, music and videos.

    The Sony PlayStation 3 Slim would have scored higher on our list if it wasn't for one caveat: it lacks a remote control. You will need to buy this separately for $39.95 -- otherwise, you're stuck with the PS3 control pad which is obviously less than ideal. That said, it remains the best choice for gaming videophiles. Pros: Smaller and lighter, quieter and more energy-efficient Cons: Only two USB ports instead of four

    [[artnid:317126|Red our full review of the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim (120GB)]]
  • 3. [[artnid:311854|Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-ray player]] (RRP: $349)

    Samsung’s BD-P1600 does everything you could want a Blu-ray player to do. Great picture quality, plenty of audio decoding support and a speedy interface combine to make it an easy choice. Our only concerns (the build quality and the design) are minor.

    When it comes to video quality, the Samsung BD-P1600 does not disappoint, with vibrant Blu-ray images that are full of detail. Thankfully, DVD upscaling is of an equally high calibre.

    The Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-ray player can connect to the Internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi (the latter requires a proprietary USB dongle). It also supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding.

    Pros: Excellent image quality with both Blu-ray discs and DVDs, high-definition audio decoding, good operational speed

    Cons: Build quality could be better, flip-down front is annoying

    [[artnid:311854|Read our full review of the Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-ray player]]
  • 2. [[artnid:298985|Panasonic DMP-BD60]] (RRP: $389)

    Besting the competition for the top spot on our list, the Panasonic DMP-BD60 is a sleek Blu-ray player that handled all of our tests with ease.

    Both Blu-ray content and regular DVDs played to beautiful effect and Web access — including YouTube and Picasa — is also included. For audio, the Panasonic DMP-BD60 supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master audio on-board decoding.

    The DMP-BD60 is a compact and well-designed machine. What more could you ask for?

    Pros: Excellent image quality, sleek and attractive design, lots of useful inbuilt features.
    Cons: Unhelpful on-screen displays.

    [[artnid:298985|Read our full review of the Panasonic DMP-BD60 Blu-ray Player]]

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  • 1. [[artnid:270082|Kogan Technologies Blu-ray Player]] (RRP: $199)

    With its $199 price tag, the Kogan Technologies Blu-ray player is the cheapest model on the Australian market.

    There were no problems with colour balance or image tearing and there was none of the jaggedness and aliasing that are apparent with some budget Blu-ray players.

    All the top-level audio formats can be decoded, from regular Dolby Digital all the way up to DTS-HD. This puts the player ahead of entry-level units from competing companies like Sony and Samsung.

    To top it off, the Kogan Technologies Blu-ray Player is also impressively fast at reading discs and features region-free playback.

    Pros: Clean interface, great picture quality, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD support, great upscaling
    Cons: Nothing of note

    [[artnid:270082|Read our full review of the Kogan Technologies Blu-ray Player]]
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