Brilliant in almost every way, the DMP-BDT500 is one of the finest Blu-ray players ever
You can buy cheaper, but the Pioneer is more than worth its asking price
Nothing fancy, but still a bit special – this is a brilliant budget Blu-ray buy
Not the best Blu-ray player at the price, but certainly one of the most versatile
Marantz’s rich vein of form continues with another cracking Blu-ray player
Too good to use with a 32in TV, but in the right system this Sony is simply extraordinary
The price is right, and so is the size, hard drive and Blu-ray playback. Time for late adopters to buy a PS3
It may be on the premium side of budget, but the BD85 is well worth the extra cash
Panasonic jumps back into the leading pack at this price level – the BD65 is a great all-round Blu-ray player
Marantz continues to carve itself a useful niche as a purveyor of audio-orientated Blu-ray players to the discerning. Its new UD5005 (£450, marantz.co.uk) is relatively cheap compared to its high-end UD8004 and UD9004 decks, but like those models, it can replay both DVD-Audio and SACD. Of course, if you were one of the legion hordes who steadfastly ignored both these failed attempts to revitalise disc-based music, that won’t matter a jot to you – but the ’5005 is supposedly just as adept with CD, and it can also stream music over a DLNA network. All that, and it handles 3D playback too, ensuring that, for now, it covers as many bases as you could expect any modern BD player to cover.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
1. BD-Live and Profile 2.0 These will give you access to extra Blu-ray disc features via the internet, either wirelessly if the player has built-in Wi-Fi or through a wired Ethernet connection. Some players also offer access to streaming video providers such as BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm.
2. HD audio Make sure your player or AV amp can cope with hi-def audio formats. There are various flavours (including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as uncompressed PCM), which will give you a much more immersive experience with a suitable sound system.
3. 3D The most up-to-date players feature HDMI 1.4a and can output 3D video at 1080p quality. Whether you think you’ll use it or not, it’s worth having for the sake of future proofing.
4. Decent cables A poor HDMI cable will degrade the digital signal, so it really is worth investing around £50 for optimum video and audio transfer.