There's still much to commend disc-based movies, not least HD pictures and, just as importantly, 5.1 HD sound. Here we pick our four Best Blu-ray players of 2014

With the advent of video-on-demand and streaming video services from the likes of Netflix and LoveFilm, DVD and Blu-ray discs have fallen out of favour with some film fans. 

But there's still much to commend disc-based movies, not least high-definition pictures and, just as importantly, high-definition sound in the form of Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. You might be able to stream HD video from the cloud, but no-one's yet streaming better than standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

And so it is that we retained a Best Blu-ray players category in our 2013 Awards. If you've invested in a pukka home cinema amp and a decent set of surround speakers, Blu-ray still has much to commend it.

MORE Awards 2013: See our 99 Award-winning products for 2014!

Best Blu-ray player under £100

Sony BDP-S4100

Five stars

Tested at £95

The entry-level price for a budget Blu-ray player is now ridiculously cheap. Our best budget Blu-ray player is the  Sony BDP-S4100, available for £95 (or less if you shop around). For that you get 3D and SACD compatibility, a wired connection to the internet and access to Sony's Entertainment Network portal.

Fire it up, and the BDP-S4100's picture-making prowess is undeniable: images are crisp, clear and confident. You also get strong contrasts, detailed dark tones and stable motion while panning. Colours are lively without being overblown.

As for sound quality, while it's not quite as robust as some pricier models, it's still an assertive performer with a decent level of scale and excitement. At the price, what's not to like?

MORE:  Sony BDP-S4100 review

 

 

Best Blu-ray player under £150

Sony BDP-S5100

Five stars

Tested at £140

Of course, you can also spend more and here Sony can help again. The £140 Sony BDP-S5100 – our Best Blu-ray player £100-£150 – is the next model up in its range. It has all the attributes of its younger brother, plus a slightly better performance and additional features.

For the extra £45 you get better sound, wi-fi connectivity, DLNA streaming, impressive file support and that eye-catching stealth bomber design.

MORE:  Sony BDP-S5100 review

 

 

 

More after the break

Best Blu-ray player under £200

Sony BDP-S790

Five stars

Tested at £200

Our Product of the Year accolade in this category – making it a hat-trick for Sony – goes to the £200 Sony BDP-S790, our champion form last year. Sony hasn't seen the need to replace this model, and with good reason – it's an absolute corker.

It puts out a spectacular, sharply defined picture. Tricky, slow-panning shots are handled with an iron grip, and images are as vibrant as we've seen at this price. Whites are brilliantly punchy and blacks are inkily deep.

We also love the BDP-S790's audio quality. It's a precise, detailed and layered sound with entertainingly punchy dynamics and an emphasis on agility. It even hanndles SACD (Super Audio CD) discs as well as CD, DVD and Blu-ray. A true  all-rounder then.

Clever features include 4K upscaling, a free smartphone app and twin HDMI outputs. Put simply, £200 buys you the best pound-for-pound Blu-ray player on the market.

MORE:  Sony BDP-S790 review

 

Best high-end Blu-ray player

Marantz UD7007

Five stars

Tested at £700

What if you've invested a fortune in your home cinema set-up and money's no object? Then we have one more choice for you: the sublime Marantz UD7007, our Best Buy Blu-ray player over £300.

Yes, £700 is a lot to pay in this company when the three Sony models are so good. But given an appropriate system, and the Marantz UD7007 makes a lot of sense. With Blu-rays, it's performance is sublime. There's minimal picture noise, and colours and contrasts are as convincing as we've seen on the format.

This is a true universal player, capable of handling DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, SACD and Blu-ray discs. It can also play streams of 24-bit/192kHz music files as well. Lovely.

The Marantz received a five-star review at its initial price of £1000. Now that it's dropped to £700, it's a high-end bargain.

MORE:  Marantz UD7007 review

Keep an eye on this page if you're in the market for a Blu-ray player as we'll be updating our list as and when we review new BD players that make the grade...

 

MORE: Best Blu-ray test discs 2013