Top 10: The best of Blu-ray

The Panasonic DMP-BD10 is your best option currently for a standalone Blu-ray player

The next-generation DVD format war rumbles no more. HD DVD has been axed thanks to Toshiba's announcement today. So we've pulled together our top 10 Blu-ray products on the market, from players to disc drives and software. And we say how each scores points for, or against, Blu-ray in the format war.

Click on the product name to read the full review.

Standalone players

Samsung BDP-1000

After all the talk, Samsung was first to walk the walk with the market's debut Blu-ray player. For that alone, the BDP-1000 deserves credit. It's still one of a very select few Blu-ray players around, and finally allowed us to see what all the fuss was about. Blu-ray verdict: Like most pioneers, it's pricey, buggy and slow. And it has no Ethernet port, which is a must for BD Live compatibility

Panasonic DMP-BD10A

This is an updated version of Panasonic's debut Blu-ray offering and shows just how far Blu-ray players have come in a short time. Superb high-def picture and audio lead the way, and help to make this the best standalone player around at present. Blu-ray verdict: The best the format has to offer right now, but HD DVD still undercuts it on price. And no Ethernet port here either.

LG BH100

LG acts as peacemaker with the BH100 - the first dual player on the market. Sounds like a perfect solution, but the idea is far better in theory than in practice. In the end, you'd be better buying two separate players than this inconsistent offering. Blu-ray verdict: Doesn't do any favours for either format, and also gives BD Live the cold shoulder.


TechLink Switch2 HD4110

This isn't a product designed exclusively for Blu-ray, but it's good enough to get a mention here anyway. All that high-def kit needs HDMI to talk to each other, and manufacturers are strangely stingy with connections. The HD4110 is a stylish solution that works exceptionally well. Blu-ray verdict: An indicator of how both next-gen formats can work out more expensive than you first imagined

Computer hardware

Sony Vaio VGN-AR30

Sony's latest high-end Vaio laptops all have Blu-ray drives included - and rewritable ones at that. In the realm of multimedia computing, Blu-ray seems naturally at home, and the Ethernet port concerns all fall away. Blu-ray verdict: The format works in this setting, and this may be the obvious way forward until standalone players reach maturity

Dell XPS M1710

Dell is strongly behind Blu-ray in its battle with HD DVD, so it's no surprise we've started seeing Dell products featuring the technology. It's not quite in the league of the Sony above, but the XPS M1710 does illustrate the growing partnership of next-gen disc formats and Windows Media Center. Its lack of an HDMI port is a curious omission, however. Blu-ray verdict:Certainly a step up from a normal DVD drive, but some of the format's strengths are wasted here

Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi

Perhaps cleverly, Acer has hedged its bets and has both Blu-ray and HD DVD-equipped laptops in its product range. The 8215WLMi itself is a capable multimedia offering, although despite its next-gen disc drive it has some ageing technology inside. Blu-ray verdict: Proof that Blu-ray needs more than just a disc drive to do it justice

Pioneer BDR-101A

A Blu-ray optical reader/writer drive for the PC. Well, almost. It's pretty slow, very expensive and doesn't work with dual-layer discs. Pioneer is living up to its name here, but we'd advise waiting a while before taking the plunge. Blu-ray verdict: An Xbox 360 plus HD DVD drive costs less. Need we say more?


Roxio Copy and Convert 3

Copy and Convert 3 is worth a mention here if only for proving that not everything to do with next-generation DVD is expensive. For just £20, this excellent package will take care of all your disc-authoring needs, and can even rip from Blu-ray too. Blu-ray verdict: Given the high capacity of Blu-ray discs, software like this may be invaluable to PC users

And finally...

Sony PlayStation 3

The best Blu-ray player on the market, i.e. it's the cheapest player that's future-proofed due to its Ethernet port. It's true that the PS3 has taken a bit of a hammering recently as a games console. But Sony is throwing its full weight behind boosting its cause with new games, lower prices and improved hardware and software. Blu-ray's own prospects can only benefit by extension, as this remains the best way to get into next-generation disc formats. Blu-ray verdict: It may be going too far to say the entire format's success hinges on the PS3, but not by much

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