Best Blu-ray players for 2018
Our expert's top picks, plus some shopping tips
In this article: Our list of best Blu-ray players for 2018...
... with links to hundreds of customer reviews. We wrap things up with our 2018 Blu-ray player buying tips.
Back in 2015, it seemed like Blu-ray players were on their way out. I pitched them as an “affordable, alternative way to stream Netflix to your TV.” Today, Blu-ray players are back in demand.
Because 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players offer the best possible picture available. People want to see what their 4K TVs can really do. And because standard Blu-ray players are more affordable than ever. If you want to play your old discs or Redbox rentals, they're well worth the price.
Our top picks
Oppo UDP-203 — Best in Show
You can credit this heavy-duty 4K Blu-ray player for the resurgence in popularity of disc spinners. Our best-selling player for over a year, the Oppo UDP-203 has garnered over 300 rave reviews from Crutchfield customers.
It's just as popular among professionals. We use it for our high-end home theater and stereo music demos. And our local Alamo Drafthouse movie theater has an Oppo UDP-203 connected to each of their 4K projectors.
So why is this machine so great?
For starters, Oppo has included arguably the best video processor ever available. And if you have a TV with high-dynamic range, this player supports both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision formats.
The audio is first rate, too. A built-in premium 8-channel DAC can squeeze out the finest musical detail from high-resolution tracks. Plus there are outputs galore — both digital and analog — for connecting to a receiver, preamp, or amplifier.
Sony UBP-X800 — Best budget 4K Blu-ray player
Sony also loaded this player with better audio capabilities than other similarly priced players. You can play high-res music files or stream Spotify and Pandora.
There’s even a Bluetooth transmitter that will send sound wirelessly to a pair of Bluetooth headphones – great for late night movie watching.
This player also has dual-band Wi-Fi and can stream Netflix and Amazon Prime video in 4K. That’s something the Oppo won’t do.
Sony BDP-S3700 — Best budget-priced standard player
Haven’t gone 4K yet? Still want a great picture for your HDTV?
The Sony BDP-S3700 provides a great 1080p picture. It will even play – and upconvert – your old DVD collection.
It costs about the same as our cheapest Roku and offers access to many of the most popular streaming services. That includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, YouTube, and MLB.TV.
This player is much more compact than the others on this list – Sony didn’t even include a front-panel display. Also, the plastic disc tray is not nearly as sturdy as the higher-end players. But you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
Oppo UDP-205 — Best 4K Blu-ray player for audiophiles
Oppo’s top-of-the-line player includes the same video processor as their UDP-203. But it takes the sonic features up another level.
Want the best of the best for audio? Look inside:
The DACs are upgraded and doubled, audio connections are added, and a hockey puck-sized torodioal power supply has been dropped inside.
Just how impressive is this 22 lb. beast of a machine? Our television expert – and longtime sound aficionado – Steve Kindig took a deeper dive under the hood:
Blu-ray player buying tips
Do you have a 4K or OLED TV? You DEFINITELY want a 4K Blu-ray player – like I said, it gives you the best picture.
Planning on getting one soon? It is worth purchasing a 4K player now. A 4K player can display DVD and standard Blu-ray discs on a 1080p screen.
The compact Sony BDP-S3700 player shown on top of the robust Oppo UDP-203.
Larger players work well in serious home theater setups, but there are also extremely compact Blu-ray players. They can fit neatly into tight places, like a bedroom or smaller TV setup.
Want to stream movies, shows, and music?
You can play Netflix or Amazon Prime video on most new TVs. But if you need a way to stream to your projector (or older TV), many Blu-ray players will do the trick.
All Blu-ray players have an HDMI output to connect the player to your TV or receiver. But if you’re going to connect it to an audio system without HDMI connections, look for a player with dedicated audio outputs.
The Oppo UDP-205 offers both digital and analog audio outputs for connecting to high-performance or professional audio gear.
Get a better picture from your streaming device
Some high-end players also feature a 4K/HDR-ready HDMI input. You’ll find this extra HDMI port on the front of both Oppo players and the stellar Cambridge Audio CXUHD.
My editor Jim Ralston told me, "When I got a new OLED TV, the compressed HD signal from my cable company looked a little off - blurry even."
He purchased the Oppo UDP-203 player and connected his cable box to the HDMI input. He noticed an uptick in picture quality for shows and ballgames. "It seemed to lift a layer of noise off the top," he said, "and add more richness to colors."
We can help you choose
For more shopping tips, see our complete Blu-ray players buying guide.
Have questions? Call, email, or chat with us today.
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