Let’s face it, 4K Blu-ray players provide a whopping improvement to picture and sound quality over standard DVDs.
But, if you up the ante with the best 4K players that play 4K Blu-rays you not only get extra resolution, you also get HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10+), and object-based surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There are loads of 4K discs to choose from, so now is a great time to upgrade, and in our experience, picture and sound quality tend to be better than watching a 4K equivalent on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.
In fact, if you rely on any of these services for all your movie and TV needs, then you might not even be buying DVDs or Blu-rays anymore from now on anyway.
Even though plenty of people are using streaming services these days, there are many who still opt for Blu-ray. That’s because if you have a deep appreciation of film, you’ll know that the best 4K Blu-ray players offer what no online streaming service can and that’s a reliable, cabled input that really makes the most of your films and allows you to watch them how the directors originally intended (without lags and spinning wheels interrupting you).
Why are 4K Blu-Ray players still so expensive?
In fact, anything related to 4K Blu-ray will come at price. High resolution is backed up by super techniques and high cost, especially when you are keen on Hi-res 4K Blu-ray viewing experience. Nowadays most hardware 4K Blu-ray players compatible with multi region codes are not that expensive. Besides, Because hardware 4K Blu-ray player lacks regular update, when a new version comes out, you may want to buy a new one to keep pace with time.
But you can blaze a new trial for software program for better convenience. Some 4K Blu-ray players can be good choice for you, with which you play Blu-ray discs, ISO files and folders without effort. Meanwhile, you can enjoy regular update and online help. Most of these programs are affordable and upgrade with times. Examples are as follows.
- VLC Media Player (Win & Mac)
- DVDFab Player 6 (Win & Mac, region free/code free, applicable to DVDs, Blu-rays, 4K Blu-rays and all Videos)
- iDeer Blu-ray Player (Win)
- Aurora Blu-ray Player (Win & Mac)
10 Best 4K Blu-ray Players of 2021:
|Sony UBP-X700||15 x 12 x 4 in||3.09 pounds|
|Panasonic DP-UB9000||8.06 x 16.9 x 2.5 in||6.93 pounds|
|LG UBK90||16.9 x 8.1 x 1.8 in||3.6 pounds|
|Sony UBP-X800M2||19 x 3.75 x 14.13 in||5 pounds|
|Xbox One S||16 x 11.4 x 4.39 in||9 pounds|
If you want an affordable route into the world of 4K Blu-ray, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great shout. It’s one of the most talented 4K players we’ve seen at this kind of money. It’s a fun, involving performance – pictures are stacked with detail. The Sony displays a wonderfully subtle picture that’s impeccably judged while being hugely entertaining. Sound quality is equally stirring with its zippy, dynamic character complimenting that class-leading picture.
The Sony ticks most of the boxes you’d expect a player to at this price, and includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support but no HDR10+.
Despite not flashing the hi-res audio badge, the X700 can also play up to 24bit/192kHz files in all popular formats, including WAV, FLAC and DSD. There’s also smart functionality and twin HDMI outputs. This Sony machine is good enough to boost all manner of home cinema systems, so you can buy with confidence.
- Crisp, natural-looking picture
- Excellent detail and colours
- Dolby Vision support
- Sound could be grander
- No HDR10+ support
The DP-UB9000 is Panasonic’s latest flagship 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and, after Oppo started winding down its competing devices, the new model finds itself in one of the top spots in the high-end player market.
That said, beautifully made and enviably specified, this flagship 4K disc spinner is unashamedly premium. The plastic and tin build, familiar on mainstream Blu-ray players, has been replaced with heavy metal and luxe design.
Beyond its good looks, however, the DP-UB9000 is also the first UHD deck from Panasonic to support all key HDR flavours: vanilla HDR10, its dynamic sibling HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision. The latter is included, despite the fact that Panasonic isn’t supporting Dolby Vision on any of its 4K TVs.
Not only is the player more than capable with images, it has audiophile aspirations as well, sporting high quality DACs, two-channel and 7.1-channel analogue outputs, and Hi-Res Audio support. Toss in a host of smart features, and the UB9000 ticks nearly every box in the book.
Naturally all these flagship features don’t come cheap – but, for those seeking the ideal replacement Blu-ray player after Oppo’s collapse, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is a more than adequate replacement.
- Fantastic image quality
- Four types of HDR support
- Powerful HDR display optimizer
- No SACD or DVD-audio playback
- CD playback is acebric
3. LG UBK90
Packed with HDR and Dolby Vision compatibility as well as dual HDMI outputs, the LG UBK90 sports a rich feature set at an affordable price. Although there’s no display on the front of the unit, a USB front-facing USB port is standard. On the rear of the device is an Ethernet jack and optical audio output. 1080p and SD upscaling is great with no noticeable activating or aliasing. 4K HDR content looks lovely, with Dolby Vision displaying gorgeously.
In addition to physical discs, the UBK90 can run a few streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Audio processing is magnificent, and overall operating of this 4K Blu-ray player is responsive.
As a budget-oriented 4K UHD Blu-ray player, the LG UBK90 lacks a few features commonly found on mid-range and high-end units. Absent are any analog outputs, though stereo downmixing via the Toslink optical port works perfectly. Fewer streaming apps are available than on other 4K Blu-ray players.
There’s no HDR-to-SDR conversion or universal disc support. HDR10+ isn’t available, but the strangest quirk is that the UBK90 requires manually toggling between 24p and 60p refresh rates. Otherwise, you might witness some judder. Still, as a no-frills UHD player, the LG UBK90 is an affordable budget 4K Blu-ray player.
- Dual HDMI outputs
- Dolby Vision and HDR10
- Ethernet jack
- Toslink optical audio output
- Front USB port
- Lacks a front-facing display
- No universal disc support
There was a lot to like about the original Sony UBP-X800, but most notable was its use of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X alongside Sony’s excellent Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE HX), which allowed it to offer cinema-level sound in your home. Combined, these traits offer unmatched audio.
The only problem was the lack of Dolby Vision support, but Sony corrected that mistake for the newer UBP-X800M2, making it a high-octane option that needs to be in any serious home theater setup. You’ll pay handsomely for the upgraded fidelity, but it’s worth the peace of mind knowing your UHD Blu-ray collection will always look and sound its best.
With the aforementioned DSEE HX support, the Sony UBP-X800M2 is the best option for those who like to pipe a lot of music through their home theater system. The Blu-ray player neatly unpacks compressed audio formats like MP3 and FLAC, among others, to deliver hi-fi sound that’s far more abstract than others are capable of. It almost makes us forget that Oppo’s UDP-203 ever existed. Almost.
- HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
- Dual HDMI
- Coax digital audio out
- Excellent 4K performance and 1080p upscaling
- No automatic HDR10 and Dolby Vision switching
- Average reliability
5. Xbox One S
Although it’s no longer the cheapest way to play 4K UHD Blu-rays, the Xbox One S is still well worth grabbing if you happen to like gaming as much as you enjoy cinema. While hardly the console’s primary function, the Xbox One S is a perfectly respectable 4K Blu-ray player that can also stream 4K video from the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video, delivering excellent results in rich and vibrant HDR.
Of course, it’s also a fantastic games machine. It can’t run games at native 4K resolutions – you’ll need the more expensive Xbox One X for that – but it will upscale HD games to 4K, complete with HDR. It’s a cracking, great-value console that would be worth the money even if it didn’t have such robust AV credentials. Having one device that can play your favourite games plus all your beloved movies and TV shows is pretty convenient, to say the least.
- Crisp, insightful picture
- Dynamic expressive sound
- Good selection of features
- Very little at this price
Some home cinema set-ups demand a player with even more focus than the Sony mentioned above. At this level, premium build quality and high-grade components are par for the course, as is the attempt to bring you the best picture and sound possible. The Pioneer UDP-LX500 is the best 4K Blu-ray player in the business.
Feed the player a 4K disc and the picture that greets you is breathtaking. It paints a balanced picture, packed with sensational levels of detail. And the Pioneer sounds as good as it looks, displaying weight, power and a fine sense of musicality and timing.
There’s no smart functionality, nor is there a set of multi-channel analogue outputs for legacy AV receivers, but if you’ve got the budget and a suitable home cinema system to play it through, this 4K Blu-ray player will blow you away.
- Crisp, insightful picture
- Natural colours
- Dynamic, expressive sound
- Few smart features
- Still waiting for HDR10+ update
The UBP-X1000ES is Sony’s premium 4K Blu-ray offering, a posh stablemate to the unfeasibly fine UBP-X800. In terms of performance and value, the latter can be considered one of the best value UHD Blu-ray players available, so clearly this more expensive sibling needs to be rather special to warrant a premium.
To that end, the UBP-X1000ES delivers pristine UHD Blu-ray images and its audio performance is excellent, be it via HDMI or two channel analogue. The player is also artfully built, and incorporates a high-end 192kHz/ 32bit DAC and offers a gold-plated phono analogue audio output on the rear.
Ultimately, though, the X1000ES is considerably more expensive than the UBP-X800, and doesn’t quite have the feature roster of the Dolby Vision-enabled, MQA-playing Oppo UHD-203 – and if you’re looking for a UHD player with comparable audio chops (although admittedly not universal disc compatibility), then Panasonic’s DMP-UB900 provides cheaper competition.
- Excellent 4K UHD performance
- Accomplished audio player
- Premium build quality
- UBP-X800 is the better value
Sony’s PlayStation 4 curiously didn’t include 4K Blu-ray playback. When the PlayStation 2 launched, Sony included a DVD drive which served as a selling point for the ultra-popular PS2. Not only was the PlayStation 2 a fantastic game console, but it offered DVD playback out of the box, unlike the Nintendo GameCube which lacked a DVD drive (only the Panasonic Q could play DVDs) or the original Xbox which required a remote (sold separately). Likewise, the PlayStation 3 packed a Blu-ray drive which helped justify its high cost as well as contributed to Blu-ray’s dominance over HD-DVD in the format war.
Microsoft opted for HD-DVD support with its Xbox 360 but only as an add-on. Oddly, the PS4 ushered in 4K HDR video output for games and apps yet didn’t come with a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive. Enter the PlayStation 5 with its 4K ultra HD Blu-ray capabilities. The PS5 is a phenomenal gaming machine. Armed with an impressive lineup of exclusive games, the PlayStation 5 is a stellar gaming machine that can play 4K UHD Blu-rays. Sony has even marketed some discs as “PS5 Essentials.”
Unfortunately, the PS5’s HDR implementation is inconsistent. Whereas the Xbox Series X does support Dolby Vision for streaming apps and video games, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t support Dolby Vision at all. It’s possible that a future firmware update might bring HDR10+ and Dolby Vision later on, although it’s curious that the PS5 doesn’t support either high dynamic range standard already.
- Large video game library
- 4K HDR video output
- UHD Blu-ray support
- Lots of streaming apps
- No Dolby Vision or HDR10+ support even for games and streaming apps
Panasonic has a long and healthy track record of producing some of the finest mid- to high-tier Blu-ray players, and the UB420 is the latest in its lineup of connoisseur-style hardware. The UB420 comes loaded with the latest premier video codecs, including HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG formats. Colors and overall vibrancy are taken a step further by Panasonic’s Hollywood Cinema processor, which delivers a chroma-enriched 4K image.
For those who are looking to ditch the remote control, Panasonic has got you covered. The Panasonic UB420 is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. Just connect the player to Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to play/pause, stop, rewind/fast forward, and view media menus using nothing more than your voice.
- Automatic Dolby Vision switching
- Analog outputs
- Dual HDMI outputs
- Pair of USB ports capable of playing high-resolution audio
- Basic remote, no backlighting
10. Sony UBP-X800
The Sony UBP-X800 ticks all the right boxes. It has incredible image quality, a straightforward user interface, a quiet disk loader and a clean, uncluttered look that will blend into any living room. And with proprietary LDAC Bluetooth technology that lets the player transmit a higher-quality stream to compatible Sony audio products, the UBP-X800 is an excellent multipurpose device. It supports bitstream, 24-bit audio from AAC and WAV to DSD 11.2MHz, making the UBP-X800 an excellent mid-priced choice for audiophiles.
4K video playback is excellent too, though, and a marked step up from the image quality of the Xbox One S. As far as HDR goes, it only supports HDR10 – the lack of Dolby Vision is a real shame, especially as the much cheaper Sony UBP-X700 does support it.
That said, the user interface is among the best out there, and the simple yet effective remote makes it a pleasure to use. If you’re looking for an excellent 4K Blu-ray player, the Sony UBP-X800 provides fantastic value for money.
- Superb picture quality
- 4K Netflix and Amazon apps
- SACD, DVD-A and Hi-Res audio
- No analogue stereo output
- No Dolby Vision
Why you should trust me
I’ve been reviewing TVs, Blu-ray players, and home theater equipment since 2008. In my past, I spent time at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, running the Blu-ray and DVD Benchmark that team created and updating it as features changed.
With the help of Stacey Spears (co-creator of the Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark test disc), the team devised a testing system to determine which Blu-ray players were actually accurate and which were not, working to show that, even in the digital domain, you can introduce errors because of color-space conversions and other factors.
I’m also ISF-trained for evaluating image quality, and I’m up to date on all of the current and future HDR standards, so I know what to look for when evaluating players.
Can You Play 4K Movies on Blu-ray Players?
These questions have bothered many 4K UHD entertainment enthusiasts. As per the rules of downwards compatibility, you cannot directly play 4K UHD Blu-ray disc on a common Blu-ray player unless you are willing to beat about the bush via simple conversion. The reason is that normal Blu-ray players support on BD25 or BD50. Here 25 and 50 signify the size of the Blu-ray disc in GBs. Common BD players are pretty much limited to 1080p resolution, only one-fourth the quality of a 4K UHD resolution.
4K UHD entertainment system requires BD100 discs which can store data up to 70GB or more. Also, 4K UHD Blu-ray player uses a separate video codec which is not even supported by common Blu-ray players. However, there are two options for you, first upgrade your common BD player to a 4K UHD player. If you can’t do this then a second option lets you downscale your current 4K UHD Blu-ray movies to a common Blu-ray player format.
Streaming movies and TV shows has become a popular pastime, but there are still good reasons to consider a Blu-ray player. Standard Blu-ray players often cost less than $100, and most models now include the ability to stream from several online services.