Buyers' guide to DVD and Blu-ray players
While the DVD was for a long time the standard film medium of choice, the Blu-ray has slowly taking ground off of our old favourite format.
With the rise of downloads the Blu-ray may even be the last popular physical format for movies, but for now at least the DVD and Blu-ray are both here to stay.
Blu-ray discs offer improved picture quality and sound over the older DVD format, while prices have become very reasonable in recent years for both players and the discs themselves. But there are several points to keep in mind before you settle for the cheapest models on the market, or splash out on a high-end model.
With the help of our search functionality and the reviews of your peers, Crowdstorm will help you find and compare all the best deals.
Price and brand
You can pick up bargain DVD and Blu-ray players for as little as £20 now, which is pretty incredible. Quality brands such as LG, Phillips, Sony and Samsung all have players well below £50 if you're simply looking for something to plug into your TV and play your discs.
At the other end of the pricing spectrum you can pay anything up to £1,000 for a mixture of bells and whistles through to pure playback quality. Extras can include smart TV capabilities, internal memory, 3D playback, multi-region compatibility, 4K upscaling etc.
It's completely your call whether you need these things - or whether they'll be any use. For example, there's no need for 4K upscaling and 3D if you're plugging your flashy new Blu-ray player into a cheap old TV...
Do I need a Blu-ray player?
If you don't own any Blu-rays, then the simple answer is no. But then, why not future proof yourself when the prices are so incredibly low?
The best thing about Blu-ray players is that they're all fully backward compatible. This means you should have no problem playing any of your old DVDs in your new Blu-ray player.
This then gives you the option to buy Blu-rays or DVDs and you're actually starting to see instances where the Blu-ray is cheaper; so you could be doing yourself out of a bargain.
3D Blu-ray DVD player
One question you need to ask yourself before you buy a Blu-ray player is whether 3D is part of your decision. Many big budget films are now made in 3D nowadays and it can really enhances the whole movie watching experience; especially if the movie has spectacular effects or visuals that have been especially designed for 3D viewing (such as Gravity).
It may be best to avoid investing in a 3D Blu-ray player if you will only view 3D movies on rare occasions, or if you have no interest in invsting in a 3D-TV. It can also be worth trying before you buy, as for some 3D is nothing more than an elaborate and expensive gimmick.
A good Blu-ray or DVD player can really cut the clutter from your front room. Unless you're a real sound aficionado, the one device can double up as a music player too - anything from MP3 to CDs, if you pick up the right model.
If your chosen player has USB ports (some now have several), you should be able to watch and listen to all kinds of downloadable content. Do be sure to check what formats the Blu-ray or DVD player is compatible with though; there are many types or audio and video files (avi, mp4 etc) and not all will work in every device.
Some high-end devices also have HDMI out connections, meaning other compatible devices (consoles, ) can take advantage of your Blu-ray player's advanced video processing capabilities or simply act as a switcher (in older TVs) for anything from games consoles to video cameras.
Portable DVD players
If you're looking for a portable DVD player you can pick up a basic seven-inch model (about tablet size) for less than £50. These generally playback both DVDs and CDs, so are great for travelling.
At the other end of the price range you can pay upwards of £200 for a high-end model, which can be anything from swivel-screen to dual units and car mounts. Generally though, due to the small screen size and limited use, we'd advise sticking to the cheaper end of the market in most cases.