Best 4K Blu-ray Players In The UK For 2019

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Physical media discs are no longer the stars they used to be – there’s no question about it. However, Blu-ray players still have their place, and especially 4K, Ultra HD Blu-ray players. The reason? They’ll give you much better picture quality than on 4K streaming service – at least for the time being.

Even if you have the top Netflix subscription tier, which offers 4K content (or Amazon Prime Video, which also offers streaming Ultra HD content), the picture and sound quality are going to be quite far from a true 4K Blu-ray disc – especially when you add things like HDR and Dolby Atmos sound.

Yes, the resolution is going to be 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels on both platforms (that’s four times the resolution of 1080p Full HD content), but in order to push the content via your broadband, Netflix has to use aggressive compression, which reduces the picture quality considerably. A 4K Blu-ray disc can hold up to 100GB of data – which is something home broadband connections can’t stream fast enough over the course of a 90-minute film…

In this review roundup, I’ll go over the things you need to consider when you buy a new 4K Blu-ray player, the features they offer, and the best 4K players available in the UK today.

Best 4K Blu-ray Players For 2019

Editor's Choice
5/5

Excellent picture quality, Dolby Vision support and an affordable price

Best Value
4.5/5

Excellent budget player that performs very well but lacks some features

Our Rating
4/5

The very best 4K Blu-ray player out there – but at a price few would go for

Our Rating
4/5

Most of the features you could ask for, at a surprisingly low cost

Our Rating
4/5

Yes, it’s a gaming console – but it also has an excellent 4K Blu-ray player built-in

Regular Blu-ray VS Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

Blu-ray discs, which were the successors to DVDs, were developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association and several technology companies and were officially released back in 2006. The first dual-layer discs were able to hold 50GB of data, with triple-layer discs later arriving with 100GB of data. (These days, we even have quad-layer Blu-ray discs, that can hold up to 128GB of data).

The first Blu-ray players supported content in Full-HD resolution (1080p), as opposed to DVD players, that could only support resolutions of up to 720×576. This was certainly enough for HD tellies, which were all the rage back in 2006. But then, Ultra HD (also known as 4K) came along.

Ultra High Definition refers to a screen resolution of 3840× 2160 – that’s four times as much as regular HD, which means you get a much better picture, with a lot more detail.

4K Blu-ray players also support High Dynamic Range (HDR), which gives you improved contrast and a greater range of colours, and – depending on the model you buy – support for more advanced audio standards. 

Of course, in order to enjoy a 4K picture, a 4K Blu-ray player isn’t enough – you also need a 4K TV. 

Can I Play A Regular Blu-ray On A 4K UHD Blu-ray Player?

Yes – 4K Blu-ray players are backwards-compatible, so they can play “regular” Blu-ray discs. However, the reverse doesn’t work – so regular Blu-ray players CAN’T play 4K Blu-ray discs.

These days, with streaming TV becoming more and more popular, and with the quality (and our broadband speeds) going up, HD content probably looks just as good whether you stream it from Netflix or watch it on a Blu-ray player.

Therefore, regular Blu-ray players have gone out of fashion. However, streaming TV and our broadband connections can’t really cope with true, full-quality 4K content yet – so you WILL see a difference in picture quality when you compare streaming to a 4K Blu-ray disc.

So if you want the highest quality when you watch a movie/TV series at home, a 4K Blu-ray player is – for now at least – the way to go.

4K TV screen sizes

What Content Is There On 4K Blu-ray?

Even though streaming TV is on the rise, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray discs are still being released regularly.

4K Blu-ray, in particular, is still quite popular among those who value the best picture quality you can get, so new movies, TV shows, and classics from Hollywood’s history keep coming out.

A quick search on Amazon, for example, would show popular new releases, from the Avengers movies on 4K Blu-ray to re-mastered classics like The Shining and Apocalypse Now. 

Avengers Assemble

An interesting example is the last season (8) of Game of Thrones. Episode 3 (‘The Long Night’), when watched on TV, was notoriously dark. So much so – that viewers complained they couldn’t see anything… This was – in part at least – due to streaming issues. As the episode had to be compressed heavily for streaming over broadband, the picture quality suffered – and dark scenes suffered the most.

When Season 8 comes out on Blu-ray, however, the episode will presumably look way better – as it was originally intended to be seen – because you will get true 4K quality with very little compression.

As for pricing, 4K Blu-ray discs do cost more than regular Blu-ray discs (which in turn cost more than DVDs). Keep in mind, though, that in addition to the better picture quality, you also often get more “bonuses” on 4K Blu-ray editions, such as additional documentaries, deleted scenes, etc’. (These are usually also available on the other editions – but you might get MORE of them with 4K editions).

Gaming Consoles And 4K Blu-ray

Sony’s Playstation 3, which was released back in 2006, included a (standard) Blu-ray player, and helped the Blu-ray format become popular and win the “Format Wars” (between it and HD DVD). So the subsequent console, the Playstation 4, also included a standard Blu-ray player.

But 4K is where things get confusing. When Sony announced the Playstation 4 Pro – which was the first Playstation to support 4K gaming – people assumed it would have a 4K Blu-ray player – but that was not the case.

Perhaps to saves costs, Sony kept the standard Blu-ray player on the PS4 Pro, and it was actually Microsoft – Sony’s rival – that came out with the Xbox One S (and One X), which did, in fact, include a 4K Blu-ray player. 

XBOX One

So if you’re looking to get a gaming console AND a 4K Blu-ray player, the Xbox One S is a great choice (see my more detailed review of it down below) – and it’s very competitively priced, even when compared to standalone 4K Blu-ray players.

If you’re in the PlayStation camp, however, you would need to wait until Autumn 2020, when the PlayStation 5 comes out – as it will, finally, have a 4K Blu-ray player

Best 4K Blu-ray Players UK

Buying The Best 4k Blu-ray Player: Things To Consider

4K Blu-ray players aren’t very cheap. While some DVD players can be bought for less than £25, 4K Blu-ray players – maybe because they’re not so wide-spread these days – cost upwards of £150, and even up to £900 for the top models.

So it’s especially important to make sure you buy the right model for your needs – taking these things in mind:

Your Telly

Even the best Ultra HD player in the world, won’t do much with an old, low-quality TV. Your TV needs to support 4K, obviously, but should also support HDR, which is even more detrimental to picture quality than the 4K resolution.

Also make sure your telly has the right input connections. Some older 4K TVs only support 4K on ONE of their HDMI ports, so if you’re already using it for some other 4K device (such as a gaming console), you might be stuck.

Multi-Region 4K Blu-ray Players

Content regions have been plaguing us all the way back to the introduction of DVDs – and unfortunately, they’re still here with Blu-ray players. 

Regions are the production companies’ way of controlling release dates (and prices). A region-locked Blu-ray player can only play discs from one specific region – so if a movie is released on Blu-ray in the US on October 1, for example, and in the UK on December 1 – you won’t be able to order the US version and play it on your UK-only device.

Standard Blu-ray regions are:

  • Region A: North America, South America, U.S. Territories, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and other areas of Southeast Asia
  • Region B: Europe (and the UK), Africa, Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Region C: Asia (except Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other areas of Southeast Asia)
  • Region ABC: Region-free (so playable on any device)

However – there’s good news. 4K Blu-ray discs are all region-free (ABC), so they can be played on ANY 4K Blu-ray device. 

But if you play a standard Blu-ray disc on your 4K Blu-ray player – then that disc WILL still have region coding…

That’s where Multi-region players come in handy. These players can play standard Blu-ray discs from ALL regions (in most cases – it doesn’t ALWAYS work!), so you can buy your content all over the world. However, Multi-region 4K Blu-ray players often cost considerably more than their region-locked counterparts.

So the bottom line is this: if you plan to mostly play 4K Blu-ray discs, and don’t care that your regular Blu-ray content will have to be from Region B (Europe, the UK, etc’) – then a Region-Locked 4K Blu-ray player is good enough.

If you have a lot of standard 4K Blu-ray discs from all over the world (or plan to buy them in the future) – then you should go for a Multi-region 4K Blu-ray player.

Most of the 4K Blu-ray players in the review roundup have both Region-Locked and Multi-Region versions, so I have included links to both, where applicable. 

HDR Formats

HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”. It’s a newish technology that helps improve the contrast rates between whites and blacks, and therefore makes the picture more accurate. Additionally, it proves a larger colour palette and more colour shades. Some say HDR makes an even bigger difference in the picture quality you see on your TV than 4K.

To make things complicated, however, there are still several competing HDR standards – so you would need your TV and your 4K Blu-ray player to support the same HDR standard (though many support more than one). Then you would need the Blu-ray disc you buy to support that same HDR standard…

The three main HDR formats are:

  • HDR10: The most common standard, which most 4K Blu-ray discs, players and tellies support (as well as 4K streaming services like Netflix).
  • HDR10 Plus:  A more advanced version of HDR, which supports “dynamic metadata” – meaning every scene can be adjusted individually with colour and contrast information (as opposed to HDR10’s ‘static metadate’, which sets the same colour and contrast levels for the entire film). HDR10+ is mainly supported by Samsung, and a few other companies.
  • Dolby Vision: The most advanced HDR standard, which was developed by Dolby Labs even before HDR10. It supports colour depths of up to 12-bit and Dynamic Metadata. However, not all devices and Blu-ray discs support Dolby Vision.
  • HLG: A format developed by the BBC and Japan’s NHK. It’s mainly used for 4K HDR content on the BBC iPlayer. Unfortunately, there is NO 4K content on BBC iPlayer these days – we’re still waiting…

The bottom line? You won’t have any issues with HDR10 (assuming your TV supports 4K and HDR), but if your TV also supports Dolby Vision, it’s better to get a 4K Blu-ray player that also supports Dolby Vision, as it’s the superior format.

Dolby Vision Dolby Atmos logos

4K Blu-ray Audio Formats

In addition to advanced picture formats, 4K Blu-ray players also support advanced, object-based audio formats. The two common audio formats for Ultra HD players are:

  • Dolby Atmos – The most common Blu-ray audio format, which allows filmmakers to add more “objects” to the sound channels – and place them around you in a simulated 3D-environment – including from above you. While a movie theatre might include up to 400 speakers for a Dolby Atmos configuration, just a few added speakers in your living room can make a big difference.
  • DTS:X – From the start, DTS:X was aimed at home cinema configurations, but it’s still not as common as Dolby Atmos. But while Dolby Atmos requires additional ceiling speakers for optimal sound, DTS:X can work just as well with your regular 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound configuration at home.

Keep in mind that whichever audio format you’re planning to use, it needs to be supported by your Blu-ray player, your speakers and A/V receiver (or your TV) and the Blu-ray disc itself.

Also keep in mind that these are advanced formats that are there to improve the sound you get – but they’re certainly not compulsory, and a 4K Blu-ray player will still work with any standard speakers, even the ones on your telly.

4K Upscaling

If you have a large collection of older DVDs or regular Blu-ray discs, you might want to consider a 4K Blu-ray player with upscaling.

Upscaling mathematically “matches” the pixel count of HD content, and enhances the look of Standard Definition DVDs, up to Ultra HD resolution.

Don’t expect too much though – you’re not going to get a 4K-quality picture from an old DVD, and a lot of the upscaling quality also depends on the TV you’re using – but it does improve the quality.

WiFi And Streaming Apps

While a Blu-ray player is usually not a replacement for a streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick, some Blu-ray players do come with streaming apps (such as Netflix), which let you stream content without switching to another device – so it’s a nice bonus feature.

Having WiFi on your Blu-ray player is important not just for streaming, however, but also for software and firmware updates for the device. Installing updates via a USB key is something none of us should have to go through in this day and age…

Cord Busters’ Best 4K Blu-ray Players In 2019

 Best Overall  

Editor's Choice
Price
4.5/5
Features
5/5
Overall
5/5

Pros

  • Excellent 4K Picture and Sound Quality
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
  • WiFi And Streaming Apps
  • Affordable Price

Cons

  • No HDR10+ Support
  • Bland, cheap-looking design

Features and Specs

  • HDR Formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
  • Upscaling: Yes
  • 3D Blu-ray: Yes
  • Connections: HDMI, Coaxial, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet, WiFi
  • Streaming Apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and more

Sony UBP-X700 4K Review

Sony is largely responsible for the success of the Blu-ray format, and as expected, they still make several excellent 4K Blu-ray players. The UBP-X700 represents a perfect combination of features, excellent performance, and a very affordable price.

The X700 ticks most of the boxes – it supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision (but not HDR10+), both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it comes with WiFi connectivity and several of the most popular streaming apps (so it can even serve as your streaming device) and most importantly – it’ll give you excellent picture quality.

The X700 also does a very good job of upscaling older DVDs (and regular Blu-ray titles), which is great if you have a large collection.

Sony UBP-X700 blu-ray player

Yes, there are a few Blu-ray players that will give you an even better picture quality (mainly the Panasonic DP-UB9000), but at this price range, the X700 is hard to beat.

Note: The regular model is Region 2/B locked (for older DVDs and regular Blu-ray discs). If you want a Multi-Region model, and you’re willing to pay more, there’s also a Multi-Region X700 version.

 Best Value   

Best Value
Price
5/5
Features
4/5
Overall
4.5/5

Pros

  • Great 4K Picture and Sound Quality
  • Excellent Price
  • Play Video / Music From USB

Cons

  • No Dolby Vision or HDR10+ Support
  • Slow to load regular DVDs
  • No WiFi, No Streaming Apps

Features and Specs

  • HDR Formats: HDR10
  • Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos
  • Upscaling: Yes
  • 3D Blu-ray: Yes
  • Connections: HDMI, Optical Audio, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet
  • Streaming Apps: None

LG UBK80 Review

When compared to DVD players, 4K Blu-ray players are on the expensive side. But eh LG UBK80 proves you can get a good player, albeit basic, for a very decent price. 

The UBK80 doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles that pricier models have – so you don’t get any advanced HDR support (other than HDR10), there’s no WiFi and no streaming apps, and DVD upscaling could be better.

However, you get very good 4K picture quality with bright, sharp details, impressive sound (especially at this price range) and all-around good performance. 

If you’re looking for a budget 4K Blu-ray player that cuts corners on features but performs well with what it does – this one’s an excellent choice.

Price
2.5/5
Features
5/5
Overall
4/5

Pros

  • Incredible Picture and Sound Quality
  • All 4 HDR Formats Supported
  • HCX Image Processor
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Audio
  • Control With Voice (Alexa / Google Assistant)

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • No SACD or DVD-audio support

Features and Specs

  • HDR Formats: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
  • Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
  • Upscaling: Yes
  • 3D Blu-ray: Yes
  • Connections: HDMI, Optical, Coaxial, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet, WiFi
  • Streaming Apps: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and more

Panasonic DP-UB9000 Review

If you want the best 4K Blu-ray player money can buy, Panasonic’s DP-UB9000 is the ultimate flagship player – it even looks the part, with a heavy, impressive aluminium body.

It has more features than you can count, amazing picture quality with an HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) image processor and an HDR optimiser, advanced audio technologies, and you can even pair the player with your Alexa or Google Assistant device, and control it with your voice.

All this goodness comes at a cost, though – a very high cost. If you’re willing to pay for this top of the line reference-level device, you’ll get more than your money’s worth.

If you want the Multi-Region model, you can find it here.

Price
4.5/5
Features
4/5
Overall
4/5

Pros

  • Decent 4K Picture Quality
  • All 4 HDR Formats Supported
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Audio
  • Control With Voice (Alexa / Google Assistant)

Cons

  • Disc Spinning Is A Bit Noisy
  • DVD Picture Quality Is Lacking
  • No WiFi or Streaming Apps

Features and Specs

  • HDR Formats: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
  • Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
  • Upscaling: Yes
  • 3D Blu-ray: No
  • Connections: HDMI, Coaxial, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet
  • Streaming Apps: No

Panasonic DP-UB450EB Review

This mid-range 4K Blu-ray player excels in twos things – it has plenty of features and supported formats that are usually reserved for more expensive models, and it has a good price.

With all 4 major HDR formats supported, both advanced audio formats and even the ability to control the device with Alexa or Google Assistant, this is a very feature-rich player.

However, it loses points on picture and sound quality not being as good as they are in some other players, a somewhat confusing interface, and the fact that it has no WiFi connectivity and no streaming apps.

Still, if you’re looking for a solid performer with plenty of bells and whistles – this one is worth considering.

If you want the Multi-Region model, you can get it here.

Price
4/5
Features
4/5
Overall
4/5

Pros

  • Good 4K Picture and Sound Quality
  • HDR10+ And Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Audio
  • It's Also A 4K Gaming Console

Cons

  • Dolby Vision Incompatible on Some TVs
  • Xbox Controller Instead Of A Remote
  • Interface Is Focused On Gaming

Features and Specs

  • HDR Formats: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
  • Upscaling: Yes
  • 3D Blu-ray: Yes
  • Connections: HDMI, Optical, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet, WiFi
  • Streaming Apps: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and more

Microsoft Xbox One S Review

With Sony dropping the ball on 4K Blu-ray support on the Playstation 4 Pro, we were happy to see Microsoft taking the charge. And the Xbox One certainly delivers – its 4K Blu-ray player performs wonderfully, with great picture and sound quality.

Granted, this is first and foremost a gaming console, so the interface is geared toward that (Blu-ray playing is done via an app), and you’ll need to use the gaming controller as a remote.

But that’s also a plus – for the price of a Blu-ray player, you actually get a high-end gaming console… (Though serious gamers might prefer the Xbox One X, which provides native 4K gaming instead of just 4k Upscaling on the One S).

As a media centre, the Xbox One S is also a very capable TV streamer, with all the major streaming apps – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even NOW TV, which is absent from most other Blu-ray players.

All in all, if you’re the least bit interested in gaming, alongside 4K Blu-ray – this is an excellent alternative to a stand-alone player.


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