The 10 Best 3D Blu-Ray Players
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in May of 2016. Each year, some of the most spectacular movie titles are released in a 3D format. So if a meager two dimensions aren't enough for you, you'll need one of these specialist Blu-ray players in order to take advantage of this immersive technology. These selections will upgrade your home theater with features like mirroring, upscaling, and built-in multimedia streaming. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best 3d blu-ray player on Amazon.
December 18, 2019:
Physical disc media is far from dead; in fact, if you quality 3D experience, a 4K Blu-ray will absolutely do the job. On the other hand, if you actually aren't interested in Ultra HD playback, check out the Sony BDPS5200, which is relatively affordable and backwards compatible with DVDs and CDs, to help take advantage of your entire collection. Alternately, the Sanyo 8MYS is one of the least expensive with UHD support, although it doesn't have particularly high-end audio processing. The Samsung UBD-M8500 improves not only upon the audio side of things but also in connectivity; its integrated wireless modem makes it easy to access streaming services. The Sony UBP-X800M2 also has built-in Wi-Fi, and though it is a bit more costly, it's also more refined. Rounding out our mid-range selections is the LG UBK90, which comes from one the most respected panel and hardware manufacturers on the planet, but like others in its price range, lacks audiophile-level sound.
Clear on the other side of the spectrum, there are a handful of high-end options that you should consider if you're intent on setting up a world-class home theater system. The Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 is all that most people need, which it had better be, given its $1,000 price tag. If you're absolutely serious about audio quality, the Cambridge Audio CXUHD and Oppo UDP-203 are worth a look, as they're packed with costly and powerful components, but they will both set you back quite a pretty penny.
Then there are two devices located right in between those two main groups on the price spectrum. The Xbox One X can provide an incredibly wide-ranging entertainment experience including some of the most fun console games on the market. If you're not interested in joining the Microsoft Xbox ecosystem, the Panasonic UB820 is one of the best 4K Blu-ray players for less than $1,000. Its output looks and sounds nearly as good as those of the more expensive units but you won't have instant buyer's remorse over the cost.
The Pursuit Of Immaculate In-Home Theater
So how did engineers solve this problem of data storage and recall ability?
Among the biggest hurdles that distributors had to overcome to put the big screen in your living room is the massive amount of digital data that comprises a modern film.
We've seen astronomical improvements in home video entertainment since the popularization of television in the early 20th century. The massive, wood-encased, tube-based behemoths of yesteryear would be unrecognizable to many movie buffs today. In that same vein, modern high-definition entertainment systems would seem completely alien to fans of the talkies in the 1930s. Screens have gotten flatter, larger, and clearer at faster rates than we could have ever predicted. Meanwhile, the equipment needed to provide those screens with a high-quality video feed has become less expensive and more powerful at a similarly blistering pace.
Among the biggest hurdles that distributors had to overcome to put the big screen in your living room is the massive amount of digital data that comprises a modern film. We're far, far removed from the days of magnetically sensitive tape spooled up inside a plastic case. The original, popular digital video storage unit, the DVD, isn't nearly large enough to hold a two-hour production at 4K resolution. And most people's internet connections and computers aren't up to the task of buffering and storing dozens of megabits of information per second.
So how did engineers solve this problem of data storage and recall ability? Just like they've solved many other computing problems: by making things smaller.
Shiny Circles And Flashing Lasers
To understand how shrinking certain components of the system makes a difference, it helps to first have a basic grasp of how optical storage discs work. First off, don't confuse them with the almighty floppy disk of years gone by. While there was a diskette inside such ancient beasts, those were written with a system of magnets rather than lasers.
A period of pits or lands over multiple bumps in a row indicates a stretch of 0s, while each change from a pit to a land or back represents a 1.
Actually, digital media storage is conceptually similar to the original mechanical soundsystem, the phonograph, and later the vinyl record. Those machines run a needle over grooves engraved in the plastic of the storage medium to produce analog data that's then fed to an amplifier and, ultimately, a speaker. Rather than a needle and analog grooves, however, optical storage uses a laser to read rows of microscopic impressions in a foil sheet that's adhered in the middle of the layers of a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc.
The data itself is represented on the foil disc by a series of raised and lowered portions, called pits and lands, stretched over a track that fills the entire disc in a spiral pattern. A period of pits or lands over multiple bumps in a row indicates a stretch of 0s, while each change from a pit to a land or back represents a 1. The laser reflects off the imprinted surface back into the lens of the reader, which turns the light measurement into digital information and sends that to the chipset for processing.
To get a sense of why the Blu-ray standard is so effective, let's look at the size of these tracks and the bumps that make them up. The grooves in the aforementioned vinyl LPs were anywhere from 50 to 120 microns wide for most commercial releases (a micron, or micrometer, is equal to 1/1,000,000 of a millimeter). The width of the bumps imprinted on a CD, on the other hand, is 600 nanometers, over 100 times slimmer than the average LP groove. Blu-ray lasers read digital data that is a miniscule 130 nm wide. Compared to the width of a vinyl groove, blu-ray bump width would be a one-inch strip down the middle of a three-lane highway. Because the length of the smallest readable bump on a Blu-ray disc is five times smaller than that of a standard compact disc, it's easy to see how we can store so much entertainment on one little piece of metal and plastic.
And it's all thanks to the short wavelength of high-precision blue lasers.
Hertz So Good
Naturally, light isn't just the key to storing the movies you want to watch. If you're buying a 3-D Blu-ray player, there's probably already a large electronic device in your living room designed to produce light according to the instructions it receives via HDMI cable. This device could be a 4K-ready projector. It could also be a high-end, integrated 3-D TV.
And there are plenty of players available that will translate those tiny digital imprints into living-room-invading movie characters for years to come.
Ever since Avatar transported millions of viewers to another world with its immersive cinema experience, entertainment aficionados have yearned to bring that eye-popping pseudo-reality home. And that's not entirely difficult to do with today's technology. There are a few requirements, though. Some high-end units come with built-in 3-D processing chipsets, but you may have a perfectly good flatscreen already, and you just want to add functionality. You can do that with an aftermarket transmitter. If you do choose to use your current television to display active 3-D, you need to make sure it can support HD resolutions and a 120Hz refresh rate
Why the need for 120Hz? Most movies are recorded at 24 frames per second, and progressive scan reads the screen simultaneously from the top as well as the bottom, meaning 48 actual images are being presented per second, and they're sampled up to the standard of 60Hz. 3-D movies, however, are written and reproduced at twice that. The transmitter works in sync with each individual lens of the proprietary glasses, sending every other frame to the left or right eye. These alternating frames are shot using a perspective-capturing camera that simulates physical presence by recording two slightly offset images per frame. HD and 4K video standards top out at 60fps in progressive scan, which means a max refresh rate of 120 Hz is needed to take full advantage of all the data on that disc.
The images produced by modern 3-D video are very convincing, and you won't have to deal with flimsy glasses, contrasting red and blue outlines, or the accompanying headache of older technologies. And there are plenty of players available that will translate those tiny digital imprints into living-room-invading movie characters for years to come.
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