Out with the HD-DVDs and in with the Blu-rays. If you’re looking to upgrade, you can purchase a blu-ray player for less than $200. Surprisingly, most of these blu-rays are largely comparable to their more expensive counterparts. All of them produce great images and many of them have streaming capabilities. If Internet streaming isn’t important to you, pick a mid-range player that has excellent image quality.
Note: all prices were approximate at the time of this writing.
Panasonic DMP-BD65K --$110+
The Panasonic DMP-BD65K offers budget buyers a great machine for a relatively low price. While lacking in the feature department, it is a reliable and user-friendly player. Panasonic boasts about the DMP-BD65K’s ability to stream with ease. This player supports YouTube, Twitter, Pandora, Picasa, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and other sites. The only drawback is that the memory needed for BD-live is not included with the DMP-BD65K. While odd, a 1 GB SD memory card can be purchased and inserted with little trouble (these cards sell for around $10). Memory card aside, the Panasonic DMP-BD65K gains good marks for a solid machine that is both reliable and affordable.
Panasonic DMP-BD85K -- $180+
There’s no doubt that this Panasonic model is a bit more expensive that other budget players. Yet, Panasonic’s reliability shines through with the DMP-BD85K model. This player comes with Wi-Fi that’s ready to roll out of the box. It also has 7.1-channel analog outputs. Across the board, the DMP-BD85K has gained great consumer marks. As with most other Panasonic players, this one is solid and user-friendly.
Toshiba BDX2700 -- $150+
Toshiba has many expensive players on the market, but the BDX2700 is Toshiba’s answer to budget players. Toshiba was a large part of the HD-DVD market, and now the company is creating enviable Blu-ray machines. This blu-ray player combines streaming capabilities with blu-ray for a machine that’s tough to beat. Toshiba also hits it out of the park with image quality. This player presents one of the best images on the market – even when compared to more expensive machines. While the Toshiba BDX2700 is slightly slower than other machines, it is still a workhorse that you’ll get a lot of mileage out of.
Sony BDP-S370 -- $120+
Sony is a name that’s hard to beat when it comes to electronics. Sony DVD players have been on the market since DVD players were first invented. The BDP-S370 supports Internet streaming, but the main feature of this machine is its overall performance. This player is both quick and efficient, but it also creates one of the best pictures available. If you’re willing to spend more than $100, the Sony BDP-S370 is the right choice.