Blu-ray Players Are Priced Right
Like an even-tempered cobra, you’ve waited in the shadows for the right time to strike and join the Blu-ray people of the world. Well, my patient friends, your time has come. The technology is ripe, the features abound, and the price is definitely right. For around $200, you can not only unleash the power of your HDTV, you can stream Internet video, music, and pictures, experience 7.1 channel HD surround sound, and even get ready for 3D TV.
Blu-ray Player Features
That Matter Most

Blu-ray players have gone through several versions of "profiles" that help define the feature sets. The latest "profile," Profile 2.0 is locked in, so you can rest assured that you’re picking up a future-proof Blu-ray player, since almost every new player supports this standard. The 2.0 profile ensures Internet connectivity and access to BD-Live for new trailers, interactive games, extra special features, and even firmware updates. There is a 3.0 profile in development, but no need to fret; it’s for audio-only Blu-ray discs –absent of video.
Connectivity is High on the List, So Why Not Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Connectivity is here. Yes, it cuts back on cord clutter, but the big benefit is connecting to a wireless router that lives in another room. Why is connectivity important? Well, it ensures your Blu-ray player has the most current firmware with automatic updates, it connects to BD-Live content, and now there are a bevy of Internet apps available –and for more than just video. There are music apps, picture apps, news apps, weather apps, social media apps, and the list goes on and continues to grow. Netflix has made its way to just about every connected Blu-ray out there, so you can stream straight from your queue, providing the movie you want is available from the limited subset of the Netflix library. Other cool apps like Blockbuster, Pandora, YouTube, Picassa, USA Today, Twitter, and Gracenote’s MusicID-Stream (indentifies songs & artists playing in a movie or video) are brand and model-specific, so be sure the player you choose has the apps you like.
5.1 Surround is Good,
But 7.1 is Even Better

7.1 Channel HD Audio Decoding matches HD audio with your HD picture. It can deliver high-resolution audio like Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, DTS-HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Linear PCM (LPCM) to a 7.1 Channel Audio/Video Receiver (AVR). If you have an AVR that doesn’t decode these formats, you can still get 7.1 full resolution audio through an HDMI or multichannel analog connection. If your AVR does decode these formats, you can skip this feature and save some money.

Don’t underestimate 5.1 channel surround sound though, as only serious audiophiles are likely to tell the difference between DTS and DTS-HD Master Audio. That said, you can still feed 5.1 channel sound into an AVR and experience impressive theater-style surround sound. Don’t have an AVR? No worries; soundbars can simulate surround sound very well, and you don’t need an AVR to connect one. Check out our recent Soundbar Roundup and AVR Informer.

Future-Proof With 3D Blu-ray
3D-capable Blu-ray players with an HDMI 1.4 connection are sliding into the market and actually don’t seem to constitute a serious price hike. It’s worth noting that you need the HDMI 1.4 connection to get 1080p 3D on your HDTV. Regardless of whether or not you believe 3D to be the “next big thing”, it could be a nice way to future-proof your player –you know, just in case. We’re happy to report that the 3D standards have been solidified, so there’s no need for early-model hesitation. What that means for you is new 3D-capable players will work with any 3D HDTV, regardless of brand or type (LCD or Plasma) and that your 2D DVDs are supported along with your ability to watch 3D titles in 2D if you so choose. Some 3D capable Blu-ray Players will have two HDMI ports for connecting one cable to a non-3D AVR and the other cable to your 3D HDTV; this allows you to listen to surround sound from your 3D Blu-rays without having to run out and upgrade your AVR.
Fast Loading in a
Minute…or Less

Blu-ray players received criticism early-on for slower than slow load times, taking three plus minutes to start Blu-ray discs. Well, those days are over. While models vary on load time, a fair amount of players can now load Blu-ray’s in about a minute (some users claim 8-15 seconds for certain titles), but load times vary from disc to disc and player to player. The best news: Blu-ray players can improve load times through firmware updates.
Upscaling Can Cool
DVD Re-Buying

Blu-ray players deliver the highest definition picture and audio available on Blu-ray discs, but they’re also backwards compatible. Most players can scale up your non-HD DVDs to fit your 1080p HDTV. It doesn’t look as good as Blu-ray, but it does make a difference.
The PS3 Gives Great Value
It does fetch $299, but the Sony PlayStation 3 Slim not only packs a powerful graphics engine for gaming, it doubles as a top-level Blu-player with built-in Wi-Fi, DVD upscaling, HDMI 1080p support, firmware updatability, and boasts load times of under a minute (varying from disc to disc, of course). As if these goodies weren’t enough, Sony just released a firmware update for 3D movie playback.
Black Friday
You’re likely to spot some Black Friday deals on Blu-ray players this year that dip under the $100 mark, so keep your eyes wide open. Keep in mind that you may have to sacrifice a few of the newer features –a killer HD picture not being one of them.

Visit Retrevo for the best deals on Blu-ray players.

Retrevo.com is one of the largest consumer electronics review and shopping sites in the world, helping people decide what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and graphically summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident purchasing decisions for electronics.

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