You can get a lot of Blu-ray player for under $100 these days, including built-in Wi-Fi and a full suite of streaming-media services to supplement your disc-playing needs.
If you're looking for a player that offers a reasonable selection of apps and does a good job with most discs, the LG BP530 is a decent choice. While neither the best performer nor the fastest player available this year, it also doesn't have any deal-breaking flaws. Sure, the interface is unnecessarily cluttered, there's a minor issue with some film content, and the Private Listening feature isn't as promising as it appears on paper, but at least it's not stuffed with advertising, like the Panasonic DMP-BDT230.
You'd be better off with Samsung's BD-F5900 ($95), but the LG BP530 is still a solid, only-some-nonsense machine.
Design: Keeping it simple
While its competitors are busy creating trapezoids and funky business with their Blu-ray players, LG is keeping it simple with the BP530. This is a steel-gray or black oblong with a small lip which, unlike some similar players, allows you to put other components on top. That's because the controls are on the front instead of facing upward. But unless you have good lighting, the controls aren't easy to see, as they're the same color as the front panel. At least the buttons are raised, so they're easy to tell apart by touch.
The remote control is compact and logically arranged with raised playback controls and a bright blue Home button if you get into trouble.
The menu system isn't as nice as the rival Samsung player, and while the shortcuts to popular apps at the bottom of each "tile" are a good idea, at least two of these tiles -- My Apps and LG Smart World -- are unnecessary. The menu is attractive though, and you'll quickly work out which shortcuts to use and which not to.
The My Apps shortcut is especially bewildering and not much of a "shortcut" at all, as it simply lists the apps you add from LG Smart World. Given the only app of real use that isn't preinstalled on the player is Rhapsody, you probably won't use either shortcut much. Loading each of these interfaces takes about 8 seconds, but the shortcuts at the bottom of the main screen do save you some time.
Features: No Wi-Fi, but plenty of apps
The BP530 features LG's Smart TV suite, which covers most of the popular apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. It also adds Spotify -- something only 2013 Samsung TVs have -- and Pandora. The big omission is Amazon Instant, which is available on the Samsung BD-F5900. Otherwise, the Smart TV interface is fairly compact and easy to traverse with the remote control.