As much as we've loved the high-definition image quality of Blu-ray from the start, in the past we've advised buyers to hold off going Blu. This was mostly due to high prices, players that didn't have full Profile 2.0 functionality, slow load times, disc compatibility issues, and general bugginess--the list goes on. If you've paid close attention to our Blu-ray reviews, you'll notice that no player earned more than an 8.0 until recently.
That being said, in November 2008 we gave our first Editors' Choice award to a standalone Blu-ray player, the Panasonic DMP-BD35. This was a reflection of the fact that Blu-ray hardware and software had finally overcome the vast majority of bugs and hassles that plagued early models. The Panasonic, and players like it, confirm that Blu-ray has finally hit the mainstream.
Whether or not Blu-ray is worth it is different for every buyer. We've listed the downsides already: the players cost more, the movies cost more, the selection of movies is relatively small, and you can't play Blu-ray Discs where you only have a DVD player. There are also many who argue that the increase in picture and audio quality just isn't worth it. And in some cases we'd agree; the jump in video quality is really only overwhelming on HDTVs with larger screens (40 inches or larger), and the jump in audio quality is hard to hear unless you've got a high-end audio system.
There's also the argument that buyers should wait even longer to get into Blu-ray; and that's a pretty good one. As the format matures, prices will fall, players will improve, and more movies will be available. If you're getting by with DVD now and don't need to be on the cutting edge, waiting is probably a good idea. In a lot of ways the "worst" thing about Blu-ray is how great DVD already is.But if you love movies and appreciate high-definition picture quality, Blu-ray is the best option. If you're willing to pay extra, there's no reason not to make the leap now. If you're into gaming or streaming media, we advise taking a long look at the Blu-ray-capable Sony PlayStation 3, which is an exceptional value for all the functionality it provides. For those who just want to watch high-def movies, check out our full list of the best Blu-ray players to find the right choice for you.