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Pricey Oppo tops our Blu-ray player Ratings, but LG has two great deals

Consumer Reports News: June 19, 2013 12:38 PM

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While streaming-video services seem to get all the love, there are still plenty of good reasons to get a Blu-ray player, especially since many models combine the excellent high-definition picture quality and great sound you get from discs with access to online content.

Our latest Blu-ray player Ratings include more than 30 models, many of which are 3D-capable players that can connect to services to get streaming TV shows and movies from services such as Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Vudu.

If you're an audiophile or videophile looking for state-of-the-art performance, our top-rated player—the Oppo BDP-103—is a pricier ($500) model built like a tank and loaded with high-end features, including 4K upscaling (for use with new Ultra HD TVs) and the ability to play discs of all types, including higher-resolution DVD-Audio and SACD audio discs. It also features 7.1-channel analog outputs, plus an MHL-enabled HDMI input that lets you play content from an Android smart phone connected via an optional MHL cable.

Find the best model for your needs and budget by checking our Blu-ray player buying guide and Ratings.

If you're not quite that finicky, though, you don't have to pay anywhere near as much money for a Blu-ray player. Our second-highest-rated model, the LG BP730, delivers similar excellent high-def picture quality, plus many of the same features—including 3D, 4K upscaling, and access to even more streaming service, plus a Web browser—for just $200. For those on an even tighter budget, another LG model, with a few fewer features, costs just $120. And if you don't care about 3D or Internet access, there's a recommended basic Panasonic Blu-ray player in our Ratings that sells for just $70.

While streaming videos offer great convenience, Blu-ray discs still deliver the best picture quality available, plus 7.1-channel sound from high-resolution lossless soundtrack formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. While I occasionally stream movies—usually in the HDX format from Vudu—on the TVs in my living room and family room, I still watch Blu-ray movies exclusively on my front projection system in my dedicated home theater.

Do you still watch Blu-ray discs? If so, tell us why, and how you get your discs. Netflix, of course, still offers a disc-by-mail service, and Redbox Instant recently launched a hybrid service that combines streaming with disc rentals at Redbox kiosks.

James K. Willcox

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