Consumer Report: Best Blu-Ray Players

'Tis the season when people are buying all sorts of electronics.

If you're looking to give - or get - a blu-ray player, your timing is very good. Prices have fallen dramatically.

Watching a movie on an HDTV, a blu-ray player delivers an incredible viewing experience.

Consumer Reports tested more than 40 blu-ray players, costing as little as $80 all the way up to $650.

The most important test? Assessing picture quality.

The good news is every blu-ray player rated "excellent" for high-definition picture quality, from this Oppo, which sells for $500, to this Samsung, which costs $140.

And lower-priced players can still pack in plenty of features, like a USB port, so you can watch home videos on your TV, and internet capability, which allows you to access movies online if you pay for a service such as Netflix or Vudu.

"Some of the blu-ray players are wi-fi capable, which means you can connect to your home network wirelessly," says Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports.

Another consideration is how long it takes the player to load a movie.

Consumer Reports times how many seconds it takes until the first screen appears.

If a 3D TV is in your future, Consumer Reports recommends the $200 Sony BDP-S570 blu-ray player with built-in wi-fi.

"Right now there's not a lot of 3D content, but all these machines will play blu-ray discs and regular DVDs," Willcox says. "And you'll be set to go should you decide you want to buy a 3D TV."

Not likely to go 3D anytime soon?

Then the Samsung BD-C5500 is a good choice. It's a Consumer Reports best buy at $140.

If streaming movies from the Internet is important to you, be aware that blu-ray manufacturers have agreements with certain service providers. The two recommended blu-ray players in this report stream movies from Netflix.

Consumer Reports says that if you're interested in one service in particular, make sure the player you get offers it.


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