The best 4K Blu-ray players you can buy
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- To play the best-quality movies on a 4K TV, you need a 4K Blu-ray player that supports Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
- A 4K Blu-ray player takes advantage of a 4K TV's video and audio capabilities, delivering a movie viewing experience that is cinema-like.
- The Panasonic DP-UB820 is a premium product, but given its excellent image processing and range of features, it's actually affordable and easily the best 4K Blu-ray player you can buy.
You're probably aware of the Blu-ray disc format, especially if you are a movie buff. Blu-ray is supposed to supplant the more common but older DVD format. While both may look the same, a Blu-ray disc has a larger capacity for storing data; more data means higher resolution movies (up to 1080p) and additional content.Blu-ray disc players use blue light sensors instead of red light sensors found in DVD players, which are narrower and allow for greater precision when reading data off of the disc's surface. Although a DVD can be played in a Blu-ray device, DVD players can't support Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray is also the format used in gaming consoles and new computers with optical drives.
What may not be as familiar is the newer Ultra HD Blu-ray, introduced in 2015. Despite sharing a similar name and technology, Ultra HD Blu-ray is meant to supersede Blu-ray, as Blu-ray did with DVD. The story is the same: An Ultra HD disc can hold about four times more data than Blu-ray with support for 4K-resolution playback, high-dynamic-range (HDR) picture quality, and higher audio quality.
The latest spec also adds support for HDR10/HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, which are the latest in home cinema technology. And, as you probably guessed, a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player will read standard Blu-ray discs, but a standard Blu-ray player won't read Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
While Ultra HD Blu-ray sounds great, there are a few things to be aware of. First, to take advantage of 4K and HDR, you'll need a TV that supports one or the other, or both. And, as mentioned, you'll also need a 4K Blu-ray player. Nice to have, but not required, is internet access, which is handy for firmware updates and streaming content. Once you've checked off the list, you can start building an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie collection.
As with all things tech, this may be confusing, especially since the "ancient" DVD and standard Blu-ray formats are still around. Plus, there are many Ultra HD players to choose from. But we've done the research for you: As long as you have a TV that's compatible with a 4K Blu-ray player, all of our picks will play Ultra HD Blu-rays discs, along with standard Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs. Through hands-on testing and expert reviews, we found the best 4K Blu-ray players you can buy.
Before diving in, we want to note a difference between native 4K and 4K upscaling. If you shop around, you'll come across cheaper Blu-ray players that claim to support 4K playback. In most cases, these players don't actually support Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Instead, they simply size-up the video from Full HD (1080p) to 4K, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Our guide focuses on players that support true, native 4K, but we have one upscaled-4K player that's worth considering.
Here are the best 4K Blu-ray players in 2019:
- Best 4K Blu-ray player overall: Panasonic DP-UB820
- Best 4K Blu-ray player under $200: Sony UBP-X700
- Best 4K Blu-ray player under $100: Sony BDPS-6700
- Best high-end 4K Blu-ray player: Pioneer UDP-LX500
- Best 4K Blu-ray player for gamers: Xbox One X
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