3D Blu-ray Player Review
Why Buy 3D Blu-ray Players?
The top performers in our review are the OPPO BDP-103, the Gold Award winner; the Sony BDP-S6500, the Silver Award winner; and the Panasonic DMP-BDT460, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of the 10 best 3D Blu-ray players.
Setting Up Your 3D Home Theater
For home theater enthusiasts, 3D technology adds a unique experience to movies and other content. Thanks to its features like manipulated depth of field, onscreen video appears to have physical depth, giving movies a distinctive interactive quality. 3D technology is usually found on Blu-ray discs and typically can't be run on traditional DVD players.
3D Blu-ray players function identically to standard Blu-ray players, as they play content from DVDs and Blu-ray discs without issue. When selecting your 3D Blu-Ray player, consider your home entertainment setup. In addition to a Blu-ray player, 3D Blu-rays require a 3D-capable HDTV. You also want to weigh your movie watching habits and existing hardware into your purchase decision. While the cost of entry can be somewhat pricy, 3D hardware does offer a unique benefit for movie watching. In addition, port options like HDMI and USB inputs can be useful if you want your 3D player to double as a media streaming unit.
While glasses-free 3D technology has been highlighted at enthusiast trade shows like CES, most consumers need active or passive glasses – which are purchased separately from the Blu-ray player – for 3D content. Active glasses provide optimal 3D performance but are generally more expensive than passive models, which are similar to those you find at a movie theater.
For additional information on setting up your home theater, our TVs section highlights top HDTV-type televisions, including 3D TVs and Smart TVs. If you're interested in comparably high-quality sound for your movies, sound bars and AV receivers are high-end audio options at flexible prices.
3D Blu-ray Players: What We Tested, What We Found
For our reviews, we highlighted Blu-ray player models targeted toward entry-level home users and available through major online or physical retailers. During testing, we used a 3D-capable Sony HDTV, active 3D glasses and a 3D copy of the movie "Gravity" to ensure consistent comparisons between each Blu-ray player. We also designed a boot speed test to evaluate the software quality and responsiveness of each Blu-Ray player. In this benchmark, we timed how long it took for an offline Blu-ray player to reach its main menu on stock startup settings.
During our testing, we found several key areas to consider before you make your purchase. For general users, basic 3D performance was consistent among all of the evaluated players. If you're an advanced user, options like 4K upscaling and advanced HDMI color calibration provide stellar image quality on your home TV.
Like internal specifications, port options can vary between players and should be considered. For instance, if the rest of your home theater setup relies on optical cables, a player with coaxial output will be a poor fit and require a separate converter.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. Our testing used both manufacturer-provided review units and purchased retail units. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important in Selecting a 3D Blu-ray Player?
Along with the Blu-ray player's price tag and video quality, its secondary features also determine how well it fits in to your home theater setup. Keep the following in mind before your purchase a new player:
Support for Streaming Apps
In addition to movie playing, many Blu-ray players are loaded with secondary tools that are useful for home theater users. As with most home entertainment devices, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are commonly found on most 3D Blu-ray DVD players.
If you're an enthusiast user, features like DLNA support are equally important. This allows you to stream multimedia content on your local home network to the TV. In both cases, top Blu-ray players are able to function as effective home entertainment multitaskers.
Dimensions & Design
If your home theater setup is already loaded with devices, keep the physical dimensions of the different Blu-ray players in mind. Standard 3D Blu-ray players have generally followed the path of most home theater devices – they'll be thin, lightweight and require minimal cabling.
By comparison, large multipurpose models can combine 3D functionality with other features like media server abilities and multimedia streaming. These units are much more versatile than standard Blu-ray players, but they are typically comparable to a home receiver unit in size.
Are The New 4K 3D Blu-Ray Players Worth Buying?
4K refers to TVs with a native resolution of 4096 x 2160, which is more than standard 1080p or 720p HDTVs. Generally speaking, 4K HDTVs benefit from higher image quality, but as a relatively young technology, the availability of content produced at 4K varies. This early adopter risk aside, the best 3D 4K Blu-ray players still have upsides if you want peak visual performance from your 4K-capable home TV.
Remotes & Reducing Clutter
As with all home devices, 3D Blu-ray players come with their own remotes to control functions like playback and volume levels. Remote designs can also vary widely depending on the manufacturer, ranging from wallet-size devices to bulky units covered with buttons. If your tolerance for another coffee table remote is low, some manufacturers also have smartphone or tablet apps that can remotely control your 3D Blu-ray player.
3D Blu-ray Players: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Our top selections have the versatility and features of the best 3D Blu-ray players. Compared to competing models, the OPPO BDP-103 takes up a significant amount of home theater space. However, its variety of connectivity options and image settings allow it to be the centerpiece of your living room setup. The Sony BDP-S6500 combines premium home theater options like 4K support in an entry-level package. Finally, the Panasonic DMP-BDT460 touts an intuitive user interface and similarly stellar high-end home theater options like integrated 2D-to-3D conversion.
In addition to these top choices, additional standouts include the Denon DBT173 and Yamaha BD-S677. While the players have some minor shortcomings with 3D content, they cover many of these gaps with excellent support for streaming content as home theater hubs.