During the holiday shopping season last year, several of our friends and family snatched up a bargain-basement deal on a Blu-ray player that offered built-in Wi-Fi and streaming video apps for under $80. At the time, it was a great deal. At least, it seemed that way, but then every single one of those players died within 1 -3 months, and many of the warranty replacements died, too. Ultimately, some of our friends just gave up on the player and ended up buying something else entirely.
Lesson learned: It’s easy to get excited by those door-buster deals, especially when the prices continue to drop year-over-year — that $80 Blu-ray player from last year will likely resurface for $60 this year. Don’t. When it comes to Blu-ray players, just a few extra bucks can make the difference between getting a device you’ll enjoy for years, and one that you’ll be angrily tossing in the garbage months later.
Below, find our top pick for a Blu-ray player under $100, with a few alternate options sprinkled in just in case.
Sony BDPS5200 ($80)
Sony’s BDPS5200 was the dubbed the official Blu-ray player of the 2014 Wold Cup, sure, but the device’s true hallmarks have nothing to do with the harrowing events in Brazil. The sleek device has it all, from 1080p support to access to more than 200 different streaming services, along with excellent upscaling designed to increase the visual quality of your aging DVDs. You can tap into a slew of popular services — Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Amazon Instant, etc. — or mirror your Android smartphone or tablet display using the machine’s built-in Miracast capabilities.
Navigation is also superb with the BDPS5200. The simplistic interface is a breeze to navigate, whether you choose to utilize the standard remote control or the intuitive companion app, the latter component of which provides tools for sifting through content and accessing built-in recommendations directly from your mobile device. It additionally features DNLA capabilities for streaming photos, videos, and music directly to your TV from your home network, along with quick playback and the ability to share what your watching via Facebook and Twitter — because there’s nothing more crucial than letting your friends know you’re watching Hitch for the twelfth time.
Samsung BD-H5900 ($80)
The Samsung BD-H5900 shines with fast boot times, easy setup, and a number of relevant media playback options. It has access to most major streaming services (Netflix, DailyMotion, YouTube, etc.) and the Opera TV app store, while touting support for 3D playback, DVD upscaling, and Miracast capabilities designed to stream content from compatible devices.
Available at: Amazon
LG BP540 ($85)
The LG BP540 is built for DLNA enthusiasts. It comes pre-loaded with a raft of audio and video codecs for playing content stored on your home network, without sacrificing any disk-reading capabilities or output options. Additionally, it supports DVD upscaling, a slew of streaming services, and the ability to listen to content over headphones using compatible smartphones or tablets.
Available at: Amazon
Panasonic DMP-BD91 ($75)
What the DMP-BD91 lacks in 3D video support, it makes up for with a well-designed interface and notable selection of apps (Amazon Instant, Pandora, etc.). Moreover, the budget-based player features DNLA functionality, the ability to set personalized user profiles for wallpaper, and fewer moving parts than most — rendering it more durable if you can overlook the lack of 3D playback.