Our pick of the best 4K Blu-ray players that you can buy in 2016, for enjoying your Ultra HD (UHD) movie discs in the comfort of your own home.
2015 finally saw the launch of 4K UHD Blu-ray players, the latest tech for watching Ultra High Definition movies and TV shows on Blu-ray discs. However, even now in 2016, 4K Blu-ray players are still pretty rare. You don’t have much choice if you want to jump early on this next-gen tech, even though UHD video streaming is becoming more popular; Services such as Netflix now offer 4K movie streaming and you can enjoy Premier League footy in 4K thanks to the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sport.
So, what do you need to know about 4K Blu-ray players, and what are the best 4K UHD Blu-ray players that you can buy right now? Here’s our complete guide to get you started.
Read next: What is 4K and 8K?
What are 4K UHD Blu-rays and why are they better than DVDs and normal Blu-rays?
4K UHD Blu-rays offer higher frame-rates, wider colour gamuts and a higher dynamic range (HDR) for a truly immersive home cinema experience. Ultra HD Blu-rays support three different types of HDR video, from Dolby, Philips and Technicolor – check out our ‘what is HDR’ explainer for more info.
Ultra HD Blu-rays boast loads more storage space than their Full HD counterparts, which are currently quite popular. These super-charged 4K Blu-rays are actually dual-layer UHD discs which can carry up to 66GB of data, while you can also get a bigger triple-layer 100GB disc. Typically, feature-length Full HD Blu-rays are ‘just’ 50GB in size.
Audio quality will be better too, with support for the likes of Dolby Atmos.
Can 4K UHD Blu-ray players also play my old DVDs and Blu-rays?
4K Blu-ray players are also backwards compatible, which means that they can playing existing DVDs and Blu-ray discs in your collection. That’s good news if you don’t want to start again with your movie library, although if you’re thinking of splashing out on a 4K UHD Blu-ray player in 2016, chances are you’re good for a few bob.
DVDs and HD Blu-rays are often upscaled by 4K Blu-ray players, which means they’ll look even better than they do when played on a standard player (although occasionally you might get frame rate issues, depending on the player).
Will a 4K UHD Blu-ray player still work with a non-4K TV?
You can hook up a 4K Blu-ray player to a standard HD TV and it will still work absolutely fine, playing your UHD discs in HD definition. But honestly, what are you doing? Why splash out on this high-tech player and stick it into a telly that isn’t 4K? It’s like cooking paella with a £500 bottle of vintage wine. Total waste of money.
Best 4K UHD Blu-ray players you can buy right now
Here’s our pick of the best 4K Blu-ray players that you can pick up right now. As you’ll see, it’s rather slim pickings in 2016, but we’ll add to this list as more Blu-ray players are released.
Panasonic DMP-UB900 4K Blu-ray player
If stunning visuals are your bag, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 is a must-buy. This Blu-ray player can handle the latest 4K discs, which means supremely sharp images, super-vibrant colours and ridiculously good frame rates.
The metal and plastic body is quite chunky but attractive and packs plenty of ports, including two HDMI ports (one audio only). Navigation and setup are swift and painless and you can also download plenty of streaming apps to play 4K movies and shows when you grow bored of your Blu-rays.
Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Blu-ray player
Samsung’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player is another fantastic addition to any home cinema setup. The curvy frame is pleasingly attractive and slender too, so you can easily stack it in a cabinet. Setup is again a cinch and the menus are intuitive and easy to navigate, with full access to video streaming apps such as Netflix.
As you’d expect from Samsung, picture and audio quality are fantastic. Of course, the UBD-K8500 isn’t cheap, but A/V enthusiasts and trend-setters should be very happy with this purchase.
Best 4K UHD Blu-ray players coming soon
If you’re not quite sure if you’re ready to commit to an expensive new 4K Blu-ray player just yet, then it might be worth holding off just a little bit longer. Some awesome new UHD players are set to launch later in 2016 and here’s our pick of the best.
Sony Playstation Neo
Sony’s next big gaming console, the Playstation Neo, is set to launch early September 2016 and should be a must-buy for gamers who also want to enjoy the latest 4K UHD movies on Blu-ray.
Check out our big Sony Playstation Neo preview to see why this console will be one of the best 4K Blu-ray players of 2016.
Microsoft Xbox One S
Like the Playstation Neo, Microsoft’s Xbox One S isn’t just a one-trick gaming pony. The One S is also a 4K Ultra HD home cinema system, capable of playing 4K Blu-rays as well as streaming 4K resolution movies from services such as Netflix.
Check out our big Microsoft Xbox One S preview to see how the One S compares to the Playstation Neo and which could be the best 4K Blu-ray cinema setup for you.