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Consumer Reports finds best Blu-ray for cost

December 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A Blu-ray player delivers an incredible viewing experience, and for those looking to give it a try, you're in luck because prices have dropped. Consumer Reports took a look at the best buys for your money.Consumer Reports tested more than 40 Blu-ray players, costing as little as $80 all the way up to $650.

The most important test was assessing picture quality, and the good news is every Blu-ray player rated "excellent" for high-definition picture quality, from an Oppo, which sells for $500, to a Samsung, which costs $140.

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," said Jim Wilcox of Consumer Reports.

Another consideration is how long it takes the player to load a movie. Consumer Reports timed how many seconds it took until the first screen appeared on the players they tested. Some took only nine seconds, while others took as long as 37 seconds.

If a 3-D 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 3-D content, but all these machines will play Blu-ray discs and regular DVDs. And you'll be set to go should you decide you want to buy a 3-D TV," Wilcox said.

Not likely to go 3-D any time soon? Then the Samsung BD-C5500 is a good choice, and 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. Consumer Reports says that if you're interested in one service in particular, make sure the player you get offers it.