There are some good reasons to watch movies on the humble Blu-ray player -- even in the streaming age. A hardware player offers the best image and sound quality available, thanks to the enhanced storage capacities of Blu-ray discs. There are two types of Blu-ray disc options available: p Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray. Both are a step up from a traditional DVD player, but getting a 4K player will let you play both kinds of Blu-rays and give you access to formats like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, DTS:X and HDR Even better, all of them will play your DVD and CD collections, too. Streaming problems like bandwidth caps, dropouts or buffering are nonexistent. But if you somehow want those, most of the best Blu-ray players options can also support streaming apps such as Netflix (some even in 4K) and Hulu.
Current gaming consoles like the high-end PS5 and the Xbox Series X can play both Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, in addition to the latest games. Plus, if you don't have a 4K TV and a library of only regular Blu-rays, you can save money by buying a p-only player like the Sony BDP
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So, are you ready to make the most of your 4K content with the best Blu ray player? Grab an HDMI cable get ready to enjoy the excellent playback and top-notch viewing experience that Blu-ray players have to offer.
Best Xbox for Blu-ray movies
Xbox Series XAndrew Hoyle/CNET
You'll have a hard time getting your hands on the Xbox Series X until later this year due to insatiable demand, but keep checking back on restock updates. This is the only current Xbox model that accepts optical discs. It can play DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, in addition to Xbox game discs. It can also be used with standard IR remotes, unlike the PS5. (The cheaper Xbox Series S does not have a disc slot.)
Read our Xbox Series X review.
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Blu-ray Player Buying Guide
All regular and 4K Blu-ray players have HDMI outputs, which carry audio and video on a single cable to your TV or A/V receiver, simplifying connections. Regular Blu-ray players have HDMI outputs, but newer 4K Ultra HD models have HDMI outputs. Those that support HDR require HDMI a connections. Some Blu-ray players may have composite (yellow, red, and white) RCA connections for use with older gear.
In addition to HDMI outputs, many players also have digital optical or digital coaxial audio connections, or both. These support multichannel audio, as well as stereo. Some models may also offer stereo RCA connections for use with older stereo gear.
Video Streaming Options
An internet-enabled Blu-ray or Ultra HD player lets you enjoy streaming video on any HDTV; the TV doesn’t need to have internet capability. Players are compatible with different video services, so make sure a particular model supports the movie services of interest to you. Offerings vary by brand and sometimes by models within a brand. (In fact, if you have an internet-connected TV that doesn’t offer a streaming service you want, you might be able to get it by buying a different brand of Blu-ray player.) The available services could change over time if the player manufacturer makes different arrangements with video providers. If you plan to connect to the internet, determine whether you can deal with a wired connection to your home network or whether you want a player with WiFi capability; most models these days offer it.
All Blu-ray players support channel surround sound, and many offer channel audio from Blu-ray discs. Almost all new Blu-ray players support high-resolution, multichannel audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, though some can internally decode the signals and others pass them to a capable receiver for decoding. To enjoy Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, you must use an HDMI connection, unless a player has an internal decoder and multichannel analog outputs. Some new models support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X immersive audio soundtracks found on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
What Disc Formats Can Be Played on a Blu-ray Player?
Rest assured: All Blu-ray Disc players can playDVDs. Blu-ray has long been favored for its backward compatibility, allowing users to play CDs, storage discs, and, in some cases, 3D Blu-ray discs. All Blu-ray players can also upscale DVD resolution to HD quality, and some are network-enabled, meaning you can use them to access streaming media services.
Upscaling Content on a Blu-ray Player
Standard DVD resolution is p, far less than the p resolution supported by HD and UHD (4K) Blu-ray players. Most Blu-ray players can upscale the standard DVD signal to one that fits the standards of the TV and its connections. That means, with the right equipment, a DVD can be upscaled from p to p, i,p and, on some players, 4K. Of course, you will need an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV to view those standards. And even then, the conversion is not always smooth, especially when upscaling to UHD.
All Blu-ray Disc players can also play CDs. Some players may also play HDCD, SACD, and DVD-Audio, as well as writable discs like CD-R/RW. Some players allow you to rip CDs to a USB flash drive.
Select Blu-ray players may also be able to play MP3 CDs, DTS-CDs, JPEG Photo or Kodak Photo CDs, and AVCHD Discs, but those formats are increasingly rare.
Check the Blu-ray player's manual or product page for a complete list of supported formats and disc types.
How Does a Blu-ray Player Play DVDs and CDs?
A Blu-ray player has two laser assemblies:
- A "blue laser" for reading the microscopic "pits" that store data from Blu-ray discs.
- A "red laser" for reading the slightly larger pits that store data from DVDs and CDs.
Blu-ray players automatically detect the type of disc inserted into it, and will select the appropriate laser needed to play it. If the disc is not compatible, the Blu-ray player will either eject the disc or display a message stating its incompatibility.
Standard vs. Ultra Blu-ray Players
Ultra HD Blu-ray players support real 4K resolution. Some Blu-ray Disc players are able to upscale content to 4K but Blu-ray Disc players can't play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. You will need to purchase an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player, as well as a 4K Ultra HD TV, to enjoy the full UHD resolution.
That said, Ultra HD Blu-ray players are backwards-compatible. They can play standard Blu-ray discs, DVDs, CDs, and other disc formats designated by the manufacturer.
Most Ultra HD Blu-ray movies come packaged with a second disc featuring a standard Blu-ray copy of the film. This allows you to watch the standard version until you upgrade your hardware to support UHD content.
If you are ready to make the jump to Blu-ray, read this list of the best Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray players.
Can HD-DVD Players Play DVDs and CDs?
With the exception of a few first-generation models, allHD-DVD players can upscale and play DVDs, CDs, and some other disc formats. However, the format was discontinued in , so you can no longer purchase new HD-DVD movies.
HD-DVD players can't play standard or Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
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