Product Reviews
Take Action

Fight for Fair Finance

Tell the administration and Congress to stand up for the consumer watchdog that protects you from financial fraud and abuse.
Take Action
Why Do We Have Campaigns?
We're fighting to ensure you and your family can get a fair deal in the marketplace, especially on the choices that matter most: health care, privacy, automobiles, food, finances and more. Join our campaigns and together, we'll hold corporations and lawmakers accountable.

5 reasons to buy a Blu-ray player instead of a Roku or Apple TV

The best Blu-ray players are great for streaming video

Published: July 30, 2014 08:00 AM
The Samsung BP-6500 has a number of features that make it a great choice for streaming.

Roku 3 streaming media player
Photo: Roku

With all the attention on streaming media players such as Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast, you might not realize that Blu-ray players are a great option for streaming. We recently tested 19 new Blu-ray players and found a number of models that would be a smart way to get your fix from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and more. So here are five reasons to buy a Blu-ray player instead of a streaming media device:

  1. They offer streaming options galore. Many of the latest Blu-ray players offer the same video services as dedicated streaming devices. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, YouTube, and a slew of others are pretty common. You’ll also find many models with apps for Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr as well as music services such as Pandora and Rhapsody. A growing number of players have built-in Web browsers, too, along with access to the manufacturer’s app store.
  2. They're versatile and easy to use. Early Blu-ray players were a little kludgy when it came to streaming, but they’ve improved a lot in the past year or two. In general, our testers found the players easy to use, with friendly, modern interfaces that might remind you of a tablet or smart phone’s. The boxes themselves are slim and attractive—a bit bigger than a media player, but they can replace your DVD or CD player, so you’ll save space that way. Some models can support a wireless keyboard or mouse, making it easier to search for titles and enter URLs. You can also get an app that enables you to use your mobile device as a remote to control the player.
  3. They offer great connectivity options. Most new Blu-ray players have built-in Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to run a wire to your router or modem to access the Internet. (However, we recommend a wired Ethernet connection, if possible, for the best, most stable streaming experience.) DLNA-equipped players can stream music, video, and photos from a compatible computer, smart phone, or tablet on the same network to your TV. And those with screen mirroring let you watch the content from your mobile device on a big-screen TV.
  4. Blu-ray discs have the best HD picture quality and sound you can get at home. The 1080p video on Blu-discs is superior to what you get from streaming, which can vary based on the available bandwidth of your broadband connection. It’s the best high-def picture you can watch on your TV. You also have the option of higher-resolution lossless audio, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master. Another plus: When you watch a disc there’s no buffering, as there is with Internet-based video. Any videophile worth his or her salt (and I work with several of them) opts for a Blu-ray disc over streaming for the best viewing experience. Also, many new Blu-ray players can play 3D discs, and a growing number can upconvert 1080p content to 4K for display on an Ultra HD, a plus if it does a better job than the TV.
  5. You'll get the most bang for the buck. You can buy a very good Blu-ray player with streaming capabilities for less than $100, about the same price as many of the top streaming media players. Expect to pay a bit more—$150 or so—for a model with a Web browser and 4K upscaling.

Check out our buying guide and Ratings for Blu-ray players and streaming media devices.

If we’ve sold you on using a new Blu-ray player for streaming video as well as playing discs, here are two models to consider. The Samsung BD-H6500, $150 (shown above), is fully loaded. It supports a USB keyboard and mouse, handy for the browser and global search function. If you prefer to spend less, consider the LG BP540, a CR Best Buy at $85. It offers great performance but no Web browser or 4K upscaling. Check our Blu-Ray player Ratings for a look at all our tested models.

—Eileen McCooey

Find Ratings

Blu-ray players Ratings

View and compare all Blu-ray players ratings.

Streaming media players & services Ratings

View and compare all Streaming media players & services ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Electronics News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more