Despite the fact that 4K TVs have been on sale for nearly three years now, it’s only in 2016 that the very first 4K Blu-Ray players finally made their way to shelves so you can enjoy some of your favorite movies and TV shows in their full, high-res glory. Sure, you can stream shows like House of Cards in 4K from Netflix, but video purists will be the first to tell you that the only way to get the true 4K experience (instead of the grainy, compressed version you get from streaming) is with a battle-tested 4K Blu-Ray player.
But given that the technology is so new and has only just started being offered to regular consumers, how do you know which best 4K UHD Blu-Ray player is right for you? Read on in our guide to find out!
Best 4K Blu-Ray Player in 2019
|Xbox One S||Samsung UBD-K8500||Philips BDP7501|
|Rank||#1 Editor's Choice||#2||#3|
|Output Resolution||3840 x 2160||3840 x 2160||3840 x 2160|
|Smart TV Features|
|Ports||HDMI 2.0a out, HDMI 1.4b in, 1 Ethernet, 2 USB 3.0||HDMI 2.0a, HDMI 1.4b, 1 Ethernet, 1 SPDIF-out||HDMI 2.0a, HDMI 1.4b, 1 Ethernet, 1 USB 3.0|
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
#1 Pick Xbox One S – Editor’s Choice
Price: $299.00 | Features: 40% smaller than standard Xbox One, Xbox 360 backwards-compatible, High Dynamic Range color reproduction
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Xbox One S is a 4K Blu-Ray player and a full gaming console in one package…what more could you ask for?
Just like the PS3’s early support of the original Blu-Ray helped the format push past HD-DVD as the primary way we all watch and enjoy hi-res 1080p content, Microsoft is hoping its inclusion of a 4K Blu-Ray player in the latest Xbox One S will help the company outpace Sony in the current console wars and bring 4K movies into the mainstream.
The announcement of the new PS4 Pro left a bad taste in many movie buff’s mouths when they found out their new console wouldn’t play 4K Blu-Rays, so without a doubt for movie watching alone, the Xbox One S is the best pick in this category. It’s also the top pick on this list thanks to its suspiciously low price point ($299), which includes all the benefits of a 4K Blu-Ray player while also doubling as a full-fledged gaming console to boot.
Dollar-for-dollar you won’t find a better bargain on the market right now, and while it remains to be seen if 4K Blu-Rays will take off the same way their predecessors did, it’s good to see Microsoft taking a risk and leading the charge into unknown territory with their latest and greatest home entertainment hub.
#2 Pick Samsung UBD-K8500
Price: $317.99 | Features: HDR playback, Netflix/Amazon streaming ready, 2x HDMI outputs
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Price-conscious and feature-rich, the Samsung UBD-K8500 is an impressive leap into the 4K Blu-Ray player market.
While most consumers don’t automatically associate the brand name “Samsung” with the word “cheap”, it just so happens the company is still capable of getting into the market early and under the price quota with devices like the Samsung UBD-K8500.
The UBD-K8500 is simultaneously the first 4K Blu-Ray player to make it to shelves, while also still reigning as one of the best. It’s not as cost-effective as the Xbox One S, which is what bumped it down to the #2 spot on this list, but what it lacks in pure affordability it more than makes up for in great picture quality, an intuitive on-screen user interface, and a plethora of pre-installed 4K streaming apps that can get you up and watching in minutes.
#3 Pick Panasonic DMP-UB900
Price: $699.99 | Features: THX-certified 7.1 channel audio, dual HDMI compatible, built-in WiFi
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Panasonic DMP-UB900 is the crème de la crème of 4K Blu-Ray players with a price point to match.
As is the case with any new technology product, there are the “cheap but functional” 4K Blu-Ray players, and then there are the premium, cream-of-the-crop players that blow the competition (and your wallet) away.
The Panasonic DMP-UB900 falls comfortably in the latter category, costing $100 more than what you would pay for two Xbox One S’…but it’s got more than enough picture quality to make up for it. If you want the highest fidelity 4K Blu Ray image reproduction available today, you aren’t going to get anything better than the DMP-UB900. Aside from sporting incredible color thanks to the inclusion of HDR, the DMP-UB900 also doubles as a top-notch music player, complete with a bevy of extra features that will brighten up CD-quality music to all new heights never heard before.
#4 Philips BDP7501
Price: $299.99 | Features: DLNA media playback, USB playback compatibility, MU-MIMO ready
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Philips BDP7501 is a tight, compact 4K Blu-Ray player for the space-conscious consumer.
Philips has been in the TV game longer than I’ve been alive, which is why it’s no surprise to see them on the list of the first companies to dive head first into the world of 4K Blu-Ray players without hesitation.
Read More: The Best 70 inch TV
The Philips BDP7501 isn’t as feature-rich as the Xbox One S and doesn’t offer the same level of picture quality as the Panasonic DMP-UB900, but its still a solid choice thanks to its low price point and ultra-compact design. This is a 4K Blu-Ray player that will actually look good next to your brand new 4K TV set, and doesn’t slack off when it comes to including essential add-ons like internal WiFi, pre-installed streaming apps, and Dolby TrueHD audio support.
If you want an ultra-small, sleek 4K Blu-Ray player to slide in under the radar of your hulking entertainment center, the Philips BD7501 is the one to get.
Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t buy a “4K upscaling” player: While the price point might be tempting, don’t be fooled by players that claim 4K playback, but really only use “4K upscaling” to fake the picture quality. The players listed above are true 4K Blu-Ray players, and while they may be a bit more expensive upfront, the hefty initial investment will last you well into the future.
Make sure your TV is HDR-ready: 4K Blu-Ray video already looks great on its own, but where it really has the opportunity to shine is on sets that support HDR playback. High Dynamic Range is a brand new color gamut that lets animation and live-action movies shine far beyond what you might see in a regular Blu-Ray, and creates a vibrant, gorgeous picture that needs to be seen to be believed.
Don’t wait for more 4K Blu-Rays to come out: One of the biggest apprehensions many new 4K Blu-Ray player buyers have about picking a device up is the relatively small number of movies that are actually released on 4K Blu-Ray right now. Although the number of supported movies is currently pretty small compared to regular Blu-Ray (there’s about 70 altogether), that library is expected to grow exponentially in 2019 and beyond. So jump on the train early and be the first guy in the neighborhood to show your friends what true 4K video really looks like.
Most Important Features
Smart TV Functionality
- To bridge the gap between 4K Blu-Ray movies being released the current library of 4K content available to stream through services like Netflix and YouTube, it’s important to make sure your preferred player has the ability to go online and seamlessly support streaming apps.
- This will open you up to 4K streaming libraries that contain hundreds more movies and television shows that were shot in 4K, and while they may not look as good as true 4K Blu-Ray playback, they’re as close as you’re going to get until more titles are remastered and released on the newly minted 4K Blu-Ray discs.
- HDR, or “High Dynamic Range” technology, is a new visual processor that creates a whole new color gamut for movies and games alike.
- It’s hard to explain in words alone, but once you see it in action it’s hard to go back to anything else. HDR gives your favorite content more room to stretch out on the color wheel, making regular movies and animation in particular look crisper, clearer, and a whole heck of a lot more vibrant than a standard 4K stream.
- This one isn’t so much about the actual 4K Blu-Ray players as it is the current setup on your TV.
- 4K Blu-Ray runs exclusively on the newer HDMI 2.0 standard, as opposed to 1.4 which is what nearly all 4K sets released in the past few years come with at stock.
- Before you buy a 4K Blu-Ray player, consult your TV manufacturer’s manual and be 100% certain that it sports an HDMI 2.0 port on the back, otherwise the device will be defunct and you’ll have to wait until you buy a whole new set to get it working properly.
Which 4K Blu-Ray Player is Right For You?
Of all the devices that are flooding the market before the holiday season, the choice between which is the best 4K Blu-Ray player in the second half of 2016 is probably the easiest to make of all.
There’s only four devices which support 4K Blu-Ray playback on shelves as of this writing, and of those, all are top-notch quality. There’s not a single bad apple in the bunch, and all sport nearly identical features and quality playback between the lot of them. If you want to save a little cash