The best 4K Blu-Ray player
Since the introduction of Blu-ray technology more than a decade ago, the format has represented the pinnacle of video quality on optical discs. With the migration to 4K Blu-ray technology a few years ago, the video quality has improved even further.
Also known as Ultra HD, 4K video delivers four times the resolution found in full HD video. If you want the best video quality for movies and TV shows on optical discs, you need to have a 4K Blu-ray player.
Our favorite model is the Oppo UDP-203, which delivers excellent quality for both new and old video discs.
Considerations when choosing 4K Blu-Ray players
When shopping for a 4K Blu-ray player, pay close attention to a few high-level technologies. Having support for these technologies in your player gives it a longer lifespan.
HDMI: The HDMI format has been around a bit longer than Blu-ray players, so you probably have some HDMI cables available to use with your new player. However, unless your cables and 4K Blu-ray player both support HDMI 2.0, you may not receive the highest possible playback quality. And you'll need HDMI 2.0 to make use of the other technologies we'll discuss.
HDR: HDR, short for high dynamic range, is a relatively new technology designed to enhance video quality. HDR improves color quality by enhancing contrast and brightness of individual pixels, making video pop off the screen. To use HDR, both your 4K Blu-ray player and your 4K TV must support the same version of HDR (either Dolby Vision or HDR10).
WCG: WCG, short for wide color gamut, is another technology to enhance video quality. WCG focuses on enhancing the actual colors in the pixels, creating additional vibrancy. WCG is a newer technology than HDR. Again, both the TV and the Blu-ray player must support it.
Once you've narrowed your list of potential 4K Blu-ray players based on the primary items listed above, you can find one with the features you want. Some of these features enhance the performance of your player, and some make using the device easier -- and more fun.
If you have a WiFi-enabled 4K Blu-ray player, you can stream your Blu-ray disc content to a tablet or laptop. Understand that most of these devices cannot show the content in 4K resolution because they won't have the screen quality.
If you have a collection of DVDs and CDs, you want a 4K Blu-ray player that can play them. You don't want a 4K Blu-ray player that can only play Blu-ray discs unless that's all you own.
If you're looking to use a 4K Blu-ray player to stream 4K content from online streaming services, find a player that includes apps. Some units do not have the required software built into them to make use of apps.
A 4K Blu-ray player that ships with a tiny remote control with only a few buttons may end up causing frustration. As a better option, find a player that works with the universal remote control you already own.
4K Blu-ray player prices
These players range anywhere from $75 to $3,000 or higher. An average 4K Blu-ray player costs $125 to $250, and this price point meets the needs of the majority of customers.
Q. Should I run a 4K Blu-ray player on an HD-only TV?
A. You can, but the HD-only TV won't be able to display the programming in its native 4K-resolution format. It's best to use a 4K Blu-ray player with a 4K TV.
Q. Are older HD Blu-ray discs playable on a 4K Blu-ray player?
A. Yes. They play at the lower HD resolution, or the 4K Blu-ray player upscales the HD resolution to fill a 4K TV.
4K Blu-Ray players we recommend
Best of the best: Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-Ray Player
Our take: It's expensive, but this model has all the advanced features you want in a 4K Blu-ray player.
What we like: Its ability to upscale HD Blu-ray discs to 4K resolution is unmatched. Supports multiple audio formats seamlessly.
What we dislike: Significantly higher price point than other options.
Best bang for your buck: Sanyo 4K Blu-Ray Player
Our take: For those who want a no-hassle style of Blu-ray player, this Sanyo model is among the easiest to use on the market.
What we like: Allows you to play DVDs and other optical discs in addition to 4K Blu-ray discs. Low price.
What we dislike: Doesn't start up very fast.
Choice 3: Samsung UBD-M8500/ZA 4K Blu-Ray Player
Our take: If you already own some Samsung products, this 4K Blu-ray player performs nicely with them, including using the same remote control.
What we like: Allows you to connect an external hard drive to watch stored programming. Reasonable price.
What we dislike: Only has one indicator light, so diagnosing problems is challenging.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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