Our top five favourite budget Blu-ray players

Now that HD DVD is not only dead in the water, but Toshiba has scuttled it, it’s high time to rejoice in the HD beauty of Blu-ray. Now you can sweep format-uncertainty out the way and plump for one of these Blu-ray beauties, several of which are available at shockingly low prices. What are you waiting for?

1. Sony BDP-S500

Sony's top-end Blu-ray player is capable of a great video performance, one you'd think that the machine would be hard pushed to emulate with audio. However, it does. In spades. And what’s more, you’ll now be able to pick it up for around the £400 mark here in the UK. However, it’s only compatible with BD Profile 1.0. It won't even play all of the BD Java content currently found on some discs. Mind you, if you can get over that, it’s top notch.

2. Sharp BD-HP20H

Sharp’s player is right up there with Sony’s BDP-S500 in terms of Budget Blu-ray options. It’s £350 at Argos and even cheaper elsewhere. The only things that really go against it are the lack of support for DTS's high-def soundtracks and connection limitations as you can’t output HDMI and component simultaneously. The HDMI v1.3 port will go all the way to 1080p, and can deliver a 24p output for those lucky enough to own compatible displays, too.

3. Sony PlayStation 3

The best Blu-ray player on the market? It's certainly the cheapest player that's future-proofed due to its Ethernet port. It's true that the PS3 took a bit of a hammering last year 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 can only benefit by extension and it remains the best way to get into HD playback.

4. Samsung BD-P1000

Originally priced at £1,000 when it first appeared, you can now pick up this upscaling 1080p player for as little as £250. However, our reviewer wasn’t that enthusiastic about the player’s 1080p output The BD-P1000 has a decoder chip that can actually only handle a 1080i input which it then converts to 1080p. And if the incoming signal is 1080p, it has to go through the process twice and the picture suffers as a result. But the price tag is exceptional.

And if you’ve got a bit more money…

5. Pioneer BDP-LX70

According to our reviewer, the LX70 is beautifully built, with a gorgeous, minimalist design. However, it doesn’t have HDMI 1.3 or BD Profile 1.1 compatibility and it probably should. Standard DVD upscaling is effective, while the performance is stunning, with vivid colours and pitch-perfect black levels. However, it is expensive, with prices starting at £800 – and that was the very cheapest we could spot.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.