When big and bulky Blu-ray players first appeared on the shelves a few years ago they were all about high definition.

Back then, simply getting HD content into your HD-ready TV was the hottest ticket in town - and it came at a high price.

Those first-gen players are buried in the distant past now, leaving us with super-slim machines with loading times in single figure seconds, 3D Blu-ray playback, 2D-to-3D conversion, apps, streaming to and from smartphones and tablets, home networking, and upscaling to Ultra HD 4K resolutions even before Ultra HD TVs are common.

Here are 12 of the best Blu-ray players to give you a flavour of what's available both now and in the next few weeks and months.

12 best Blu-ray players in the UK

Toshiba BDX5300 - £70/US$90 (around AU$103)

Wi-Fi and 3D playback deftly integrate on this great value effort

With Wi-Fi-powered smart TV services and universal disc playback that includes 3D Blu-ray discs, Toshiba has produced one of the lowest priced products in its category. Smart stuff is a four-spiked service in the UK, with BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Picasa, while US customers get Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Pandora and YouTube.

It's a rather manual approach, but although there are more polished, easier to use and smarter 3D Blur-ray decks around, those on a tight budget and after pure functionality should look no further for a 3D quick fix.

Read our Toshiba BDX5300 review

12 best Blu-ray players in the UK

Toshiba BDX3300 - £70/US$100 (around AU$103)

The anti-3D brigade can bag themselves a bargain Blu-ray, with BBC iPlayer to boot

A spectacular example of Toshiba's well-practised 'everyman' approach to consumer electronics, the BDX3300 is comfortably the cheapest 'big brand' Blu-ray player we've yet seen.

The streamlined selection of smart TV services is wisely restricted to BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Picasa in the UK, but its adds home networking via DLNA and digital file support - though that doesn't include MKV files. Images from 2D Blu-ray are excellent; it may lack finesse and at times appear a tad archaic, but all-round the Toshiba BDX3300 is a bit of a steal.

Read our Toshiba BDX5300 review

12 best Blu-ray players in the UK

Philips BDP5500 - £130/US$190 (around AU$191)

Dependable 3D Blu-ray player with SimplyShare and Skype

Right from the outset of the Blu-ray revolution, Philips set about making cut-price, but thoroughly dependable machines. The Philips BDP5500 is a chip off the old block, with regular features such as 3D playback, 2D-3D conversion, Skype, Wi-Fi-powered smart TV apps (though not many) and some basic home networking.

But that's less impressive than the hi-def pictures - as well as images from digital video files - and all-round build quality. It also features SimplyShare for streaming from a smartphone or tablet to the BDP5500.

12 best Blu-ray players in the UK

Sony BDP-S5100 - £140/US$140 (around AU$205)

Always good value, Sony's latest flagship 3D disc spinner introduces a 'TV SideView' second screen

Often one to play with meaningless branding, Sony has this year come up with both 'Triluminos' colour and something called 'Sense of Quartz' design. Say what? Behind the gimmicks is yet another great value Sony Blu-ray deck that melds Wi-Fi and 3D Blu-ray playback with Lovefilm, Netflix and BBC iPlayer and many other apps in its easy to use smart TV interface.

New for 2013 are simple voice commands and TV SideView, a free mobile app for Android and iOS that enables a tablet or smartphone to act as a second screen related to the Blu-ray disc you're watching, or TV apps you're using.

12 best Blu-ray players in the UK

Panasonic DMP-BDT330 - US$200 (around £133/AU$196)

best in class

4K upscaling and Miracast feature on this brushed aluminium beast

Swipe 'n' share is the theme for this year's top-end 3D Blu-ray player from Panasonic, which uses Wi-Fi Direct-powered Miracast mirroring to push content (video, music, photos) from a smartphone or tablet to a TV via the Panasonic DMP-BDT330.

Viera Connect smart TV apps such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Acetrax are here too, but there's also a future-proofing argument at work in the shape of 4K upscaling. UK pricing is to be confirmed.