Blu-ray offers us a chance to watch true cinema quality movies in stunning High-Definition. It is the only source that is able to produce Full HD 1080p/24fps video output. You can not get this from cable or online streaming. It supports the latest High-resolution audio formats, delivering the ultimate movie viewing experience at home. And now with players dropping into the under $100.00 range, more and more consumers are choosing Blu-ray. But what do you get for these lower-priced players? What do you get with the higher-priced players? Is there any difference in picture quality?
You can basically break down Blu-ray Players into three categories: Entry-level players, Mid-level players and Specialty or High-end players. Sometimes these categories and the distinguishing features overlap with each other. But for the most part they stay true to form and price. One feature that is the same across the board is High-definition image quality. Every modern Blu-ray Player will produce almost the same picture quality when playing back Blu-ray discs. There might be some slight variations between players, but overall every player delivers high quality, crystal clear images. The only real exception is if you are using a large projector screen, than you might need a high-end player like Oppo BDP-93. Another feature found in every player is HDMI output that will up-scale DVDs to a better quality.
Entry-level Blu-ray Disc Players:
Entry-level players are for those of us who are new to Blu-ray or just want the basic HD playback on Blu-ray discs. Ranging in price around $100 or lower, you will not find the kind of features you get in higher-priced players. What you do get is Full HD1080p/24fps playback, DVD up-scaling, and with all the newer models – online streaming services like Netflix, Vudu and YouTube. These streaming services will be limited, however. Higher-priced players will offer more services.
While there will be an Ethernet port to connect to the Internet, most entry-level players will not have a Wi-Fi options or DLNA support. If a Wi-Fi option is offered; it is usually in the form of a wireless USB dongle that you have to purchase separately. If this is the case and it is something you want, you are better off purchasing a higher-priced player with built-in Wi-Fi. A Blu-ray DVD Player plus a wireless dongle can cost more than a player with built-in Wi-Fi.
Mid-level Blu-ray Players:
Mid-level players have all the features found in their lower-end counterparts. They are usually priced slightly higher because they offer more features. As stated, you will get a wide selection of online streaming services. And more often than not, the player will allow you to stream videos, music and photos from your computer directly to your TV. These players will offer a wireless option. Most often built-in Wi-Fi; but it can also be in the form of a wireless USB adapter as well.
Almost every mid-level player in 2011 was 3D capable. This may not be something you are looking for or even used, especially since there is not much 3D content available and you may not own a 3D HDTV. But all 3D players can playback standard 2D Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs.
Higher-End Blu-ray Players:
Since most Blu-ray Players are capable of delivering high-quality images and sound, the top of the line Blu-ray Disc Players are design for the videophiles and audiophiles. Those who want high-end video and audio processing. These players are more expensive and usually have all the features of lower-priced players, but not always. The players will have special niche features such as an internal Hard Drive, SACD and DVD-Audio playback. They will have dedicated video and audio features that will bring you the best possible images and sound from all sources.