I see this question asked on several different forums: Which blu ray player should I buy? Of course this question by itself doesn't give enough information on how to answer it. What capabilities do you require? Blu ray players are evolving at a rapid pace, with the standard itself changing and new capabilities being developed, but I think we should be able to come up with some basic answers to this question within some broad categories of players.
I was in my local rental shop the other day and recommended a blu ray title to another customer there. His reply...."I can't afford a blu ray player, since they cost four or five hundred dollars." I think this is a common misconception. Blu ray player prices are all across the spectrum these days, with some in the $75-80 range, all the way up to the high end, at over $500.
So how do we come up with a way to categorize them? Price alone, or include capabilities as well?
Lets start with the bargain basement players...under $100 or so. Some of these will be quite basic, with little added to them, but some do have extras, like a usb port that can playback video files, mkv or mp4 file support, or an ethernet connection for Netflix and Hulu. Here is a Panasonic that caught my eye, the DMP-BD75 at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMP-BD75-Ultra-Fast-Booting-Blu-ray/dp/B004GGK2JI
This one has support for all the items I listed earlier and a few other options, like AVCHD support.
What is it missing? One of the main items in the mid-range models that seems to left off the less expensive models is Wifi. This is not of much interest to me, but for someone else, could be a deal breaker. Most of the Wifi enabled players start at $120 or so. There are many available, like this Sony BDP-BX57: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-BDP-BX57-Blu-ray-Player-3D-ready/dp/B003FW0LR2/ref=sr_1_10?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1300841826&sr=1-10
Next little step up is 3D capability, which holds absolutely no interest for me, and I think the market is in agreement so far.
Then you get to the really expensive models, like the Oppo players, which get great reviews, but are they really worth five times the price? http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-93/blu-ray-BDP-93-Features.aspx
I'd like to know if you have a favorite to recommend, and why. What features are important to you? For myself, the following are essential: AVCHD support
MKV or MP4 file playback capability
There is one other thing I would recommend when contemplating buying a blu ray player. Pay attention to those that have Cinavia DRM included. I will not buy one with this addition, though they may become more common in the coming years. At the moment, this Slysoft forum threadshows only four players that support it, including the PS3.