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Updated: December 20, 2012 12:23 PM

Blu-ray players

Blu-ray players give you lots of entertainment options. They'll play high-definition Blu-ray discs (including 3D movies, in some cases), regular DVDs, and CDs. And a growing number of players stream video from Internet sites such as Netflix, giving you access to the world of on-demand entertainment. With prices now starting as low as $100 or so, it's no surprise that Blu-ray players are pushing standard DVD players to the sidelines. It makes sense to consider a DVD player only if you have an older, standard-definition TV and don't expect to upgrade soon. (We no longer test standard DVD players, but you can get buying advice here.)


Getting started

Blu-ray players are a good match for high-definition TVs, especially 1080p sets, which can display all the detail contained on Blu-ray discs. The picture quality is top-notch, the best currently available. Many new players can play 3D Blu-ray movies and regular high-def Blu-ray discs. All Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs (upconverting the video to quasi-HD resolutions) and CDs, so you can use one player for all your discs. Many new players can stream video from the Internet, providing instant access to movies and TV episodes from Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, Netflix, Vudu, and other online movie services.

If you have an HDTV, we strongly recommend that you buy a Blu-ray player rather than a standard DVD player. Prices for Blu-ray players now start at less than $100, but expect to pay a bit more for a full-featured player from a major brand. There are already many thousands of Blu-ray titles--movies and TV episodes--on the market, and a growing number of 3D Blu-ray titles.

Portable Blu-ray players let you watch a movie anytime, anywhere--perfect for long trips or waits between flights. Though you can also play movies on a laptop computer with a built-in Blu-ray drive, portable players are often smaller and lighter and might offer more playback options. Most portable players look like small laptops minus the keyboard. They typically have a 5-to-10-inch screen (measured diagonally) with a clamshell-style cover that protects the screen when it's closed. Other models have an exposed screen like a tablet's. You probably won't appreciate the benefits of high definition on such a small screen, but if you have a library of Blu-ray discs, you might like the option of taking them on the road. (You cannot play Blu-ray discs on a standard DVD model.)

This guide can help you sort through the various options to find the right model. While price is always a factor, also consider the features and brand. Make sure you check out our shopping advice, which should help you find the right model at the best price.

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on MSN. Copyright © 2007-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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