As an all-around great 4K Blu-ray player, it doesn’t get much better than the Panasonic DP-UB820. While it carries a premium price, it's not outrageously expensive considering what you're getting. This 4K Blu-ray player delivers excellent quality — something you'd normally find only in more expensive players.
Not only does the DP-UB820 output in 4K HDR, but it also supports four HDR formats: HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma. It’s also a network connected player, meaning you can stream (from the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) Netflix, YouTube, or any other supported online service, or from a DLNA-compatible device, such as a computer or media-enabled hard drive.
Powering the DP-UB820 is Panasonic’s HCX processor, which is the same chip found in the much more expensive DP-UB9000 (not sold in the US). With it, the DP-UB820 is able to interpolate 4:2:0 color signals into 4:4:4, which refers to a ratio in something known as chroma sample. To spare you the technical details, higher numbers mean more defined colors in individual pixels and an overall higher-quality image.
The player also has Panasonic's HDR Optimizer feature, which uses something called "tone mapping" to match the content with a particular TV's HDR capability (HDR10 only).
If you have an extensive collection of DVD and Blu-ray movies, the DP-UB820 can upsample them to 4K. While it's technically not true 4K, it can make movies on those formats look a little nicer.
As for sound, the DP-UB820 leaves nothing to be desired. The built-in 192-kHz/32-bit 4-DAC produces excellent audio quality. Panasonic gives you ample connectivity to take advantage of it, too. The DP-UB820 supports digital and optical outputs, as well as HDMI and, most impressively, 7.1 channel analog output for surround sound. The DP-UB820 also supports high-resolution digital audio file formats.
Panasonic also future-proofed the DP-UB820 by integrating it with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control playback with your voice if you have a smart speaker at home. However, this feature will arrive in a future firmware update, which Panasonic hasn't released.
Out of more than 100 reviews at Best Buy, the player received a 4.8-star rating out of 5 stars. Kris Heering of Sound and Vision gave it a "top pick" award, saying it "offers reference-level video performance and also sets a new bar for HDR playback with both HDR flat-panel TVs and projectors."
Pros: Excellent image quality, high-resolution audio, great 4K upsampling, integration with smart home platforms
Cons: Remote seems flimsy compared to the main unit, no support for SACD or DVD Audio, tone mapping only works with HDR10-enabled, voice assistance support not ready
While What Hi-Fi? gave Panasonic ultra-luxe DP-UB9000 a perfect score for its no-compromise image quality, it also gave the Sony UBP-X700 the same rating. As described in the review, the UBP-X700 has a “crisp, natural-looking picture,” and at only a fraction of the DP-UB9000, it’s a “great value,” too.
That said, great value doesn’t mean the player is perfect. The UBP-X700 lacks some of the performance the Panasonic player has. While you may not get all of the details in every image, you probably won’t notice.
On its own, the UBP-X700 looks like it should cost twice as much as it does. Only when compared side-by-side with the DP-UB9000 do the differences become noticeable. Then again, you're comparing low-end with high-end.
Audiophiles will want to skip past it, too. While the X700 provides good audio, it doesn’t have the analog flexibility of high-end options. You can stream audio over HDMI or use the built-in coaxial cable. The player is capable of audio resolution up to 24bit/192kHz in multiple formats, including FLAC, so, for most, it’s fine.
The X700’s greatest strength is its natural image. While there are other 4K players for less, they usually come oversaturated or, worse, color inaccurate. The X700 is surprisingly true to life, reproducing natural detail that feels like it was ripped straight from theaters.
While lacking in connectivity options and build quality, the value of the X700 is undeniable. It features a great image quality, low price tag, and support for multiple streaming platforms and file formats. If you’re looking for a cheap entry point into high-end video, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great place to start.
Pros: Natural image, low price, streaming support
Cons: Limited connectivity options
This is the one exception in our list: The Sony BDP-S6700 doesn’t support Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, but technically, it's still a 4K player. By using upscaling technology, the BDP-S6700 can turn older Full HD (1080p) Blu-rays into 4K.
While going about it this way doesn’t offer anywhere near the fidelity of true 4K players, the price is so low that it doesn’t matter — particularly if you already have a large standard Blu-ray collection.
With support for dual-band Wi-Fi and a dual-core processor, the BDP-S6700 is no slouch when it comes to specs. In addition to delivering excellent Full HD Blu-ray image quality, the 4K upscaling isn’t bad, either.
While noticeably less rich than “true” 4K, the upscaling has a few tricks up its sleeve. The BDP-S6700 ships with IP Content Noise Reduction PRO, which reduces the noise in the image. So, the content looks clearer, even when upscaled and stretched across a large-screen TV.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard Blu-ray player. It connects to the internet, with access to most major streaming apps. The player itself supports Blu-ray, DVD, CD, and even 3D Blu-ray. Once again, Ultra HD Blu-ray isn't supported.
One interesting feature about the BDP-S6700 is that it has a Bluetooth receiver built-in. But it's not ordinary Bluetooth: Sony uses its own LDAC streaming codec, which allows for three times the amount of data to be transferred than what Bluetooth typically supports. In layman’s terms, that means better audio quality when going wireless.
Pros: Affordable, good 4K upscaling, Bluetooth
Cons: Doesn’t play Ultra HD Blu-rays
If you’re looking to drop some money on your home theater setup, the Pioneer UDP-LX500 will get you there. With an original price of $1,100, the UDP-LX500 is one of the few Blu-ray players that might cost more than your TV. However, for the absolute best in connectivity and image quality, Pioneer’s luxury offering doesn’t disappoint.
It’s more expensive than our top pick, but performance is mostly equal. As for image quality, the UDP-LX500 and DP-UB9000 are evenly matched. That is to say, they both look really good. It supports multiple HDR formats, and it has numerous connectivity options.
Versatility is not this unit's strong point — this is purely a disc player. With a mere shadow of a user interface and no support for streaming services, the UDP-LX500 is only concerned with playing high-quality disc-based media.
What it trades in modern features, it makes up for in build quality. This deck is a tank, with thick steel bracing around the interior. The disc loader is excellent, too, smoothly sliding out of the tray and making little to no noise.
Interestingly, while the UDP-LX500 is pricey, it isn't even Pioneer's most expensive model. That goes to the UDP-LX800, which shares similar components but is engineered to offer even stronger performance.
Pros: Excellent build quality, pristine image quality, great platform support
Cons: Expensive, no internet streaming capability
While both the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft Xbox One X support 4K output, only the latter can play back Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray discs. If you’re a gamer who wants to watch 4K Blu-ray movies, then the Xbox One X is the perfect console.
The Xbox One X blends the best gaming and movie watching experience into one box. As Microsoft's flagship console, the Xbox One X plays many of the newest games. When you need a break from gaming, pop in an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie to chill. However, although the machine is a versatile entertainment hub, there are some concessions in image quality.
In a comparison by HDTVTest, the Xbox One X lacks the color nuance found in more expensive, dedicated 4K Blu-ray players. While noticeable in a side-by-side comparison, most people won't see the deficiency otherwise.
What could be annoying is the disc tray: Because the Xbox One X is designed to be a gaming console first, it's noisy when it's reading a disc, which could affect the experience. But, it's affordable and does much more than just playing Ultra HD movies, so it’s a solid trade-off.
The less expensive Xbox One S (discontinued, but still readily available) can also read Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, but it upscales to 4K, rather than outputting in 4K HDR.
Pros: True 4K HDR output, excellent user interface, great platform support
Cons: Disc reader is loud, image quality isn’t the best