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Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2021

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players you can buy in 2021.

Streaming services vary in quality but the best picture and sound can be reliably read from disc, every single time. The only way to get all that high quality audio and video is with one of the very best 4K Blu-ray players around.

4K Blu-rays not only get extra resolution but also bring HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10+), and object-based surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There are tons of 4K discs to choose from, so now is a great time to upgrade on a 4K Blu-ray player, and in our experience, picture and sound quality outstrip anything you'll find when watching a 4K equivalent on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.

4K players still spin normal Blu-rays and DVDs (remember them?) so there are no problems with backward compatibility. Some 4K players are also universal decks that can play more niche audio disc formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio.

Our pick of the best Blu-ray players and 4K Blu-ray players all serve up brilliant picture and sound at their respective price points. Here's our definitive list.

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1. Panasonic DP-UB820EB

As an all-rounder, this is the best 4K Blu-ray player we've seen at the money.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes

Outputs: HDMI x2, Optical digital, 7.1 multi-channel analogue

Dimensions (hwd): 6.3 x 43 x 20.4cm

Weight: 3.5kg

Reasons to buy

+Vibrant, immersive HDR picture+Punchy, believable colour balance+Powerful and weighty sound

Reasons to avoid

-Could be dynamically subtler-No SACD or DVD-A support

With the DP-UB820EB, Panasonic has taken the video processing tech out of the flagship DP-UB9000 – which features further down this list – and placed it it in a more affordable package. And the results are sensational. The player serves up a wonderfully inviting and immersive picture, bursting with colour and detail. It also produces a meaty and exciting sound, which complements the picture perfectly.

All the main flavours of HDR are supported, including HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, which means you can extract the most from 4K content. It's a very good upscaler too, so normal Blu-rays should look the part on your shiny new 4K TV. For the money, you'll struggle to find a better all-round machine, which is why we've placed this What Hi-Fi? Award-winner at the top of our list of the best Blu-ray players.

Read the full Panasonic DP-UB820EB review

2. Sony UBP-X700

A brilliant 4K Blu-ray player, with an attractive price tag to boot.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/No/Yes

Outputs: HDMI x2, Coaxial digital

Dimensions (hwd): 4.5 x 32 x 21.7cm

Weight: 1.4kg

Reasons to buy

+Crisp, natural-looking picture+Excellent detail and colors+Dolby Vision support

Reasons to avoid

-Sound could be grander-No HDR10+ support

If you want an affordable route into the world of 4K Blu-ray players, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great option. 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 complementing 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 and supports a number of 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.

Read the full Sony UBP-X700 review

3. Panasonic DP-UB150EB

Arguably the best 4K Blu-ray player for those on a tight budget.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/No

Outputs: HDMI x1

Dimensions (hwd): 4.6 x 32 x 19.3cm

Weight: 1.2kg

Reasons to buy

+Punchy visuals+Impressive sound+Great value

Reasons to avoid

-No Dolby Vision

This Panasonic 4K player represents great value for money. Feature-wise, it's a little sparse, but it's the performance that matters, and on that front it delivers. It can provide 7.1 surround sound (using a supported system), and the audio is nicely detailed, with an impressive sense of scale. There's a lot to admire when it comes to picture quality too - dark details are easily strong enough, while it handles 4K upscaling with aplomb. A great budget buy.

Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB150EB

4. Sony UBP-X800M2

A great 4K Blu-ray player for the money, despite a couple of peculiar traits.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes

Outputs: HDMI x2, Coaxial digital

Dimensions (hwd): 5.4 x 43 x 26.5cm

Weight: 3.8kg

Reasons to buy

+Crisp, detailed picture+Rhythmic, musical sound+Supports SACD and DVD-A

Reasons to avoid

-Lacks HDR10+-Odd Dolby Vision execution-Could be more vibrant

This mid-range Sony is a bit more capable – and a bit more expensive – than those at the budget end of the market. While it lacks a display on the player itself, its feature set more than makes up for it. It even has Bluetooth, for streaming audio to a pair of wireless headphones – a godsend for late-night viewing.

There's no HDR10+ support, but otherwise it's a very versatile player, playing nice with such niche audio formats as DVD-Audio and SACD. You have to manually enable Dolby Vision for supported content, which is a bit annoying (it should just happen automatically), but this player's superb performance still makes it easy to recommend.

Read the full Sony UBP-X800M2 review

5. Sony UBP-X1100ES

A hugely capable 4K Blu-ray player, not without its quirks.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes

Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, analogue

Dimensions (hwd): 5.4 x 43 x 26.5cm

Weight: 3.9kg

Reasons to buy

+Crisp, clean 4K picture+Entertaining, immersive sound+Universal disc support

Reasons to avoid

-No HDR10+-Strange handling of Dolby Vision-Lacks a premium finish

There's no shortage of excellent 4K Blu-ray players to choose from at the premium end of the market, and the UBP-X1100ES also deserves to be on the list. It's a universal deck which means it can handle all manner of disc formats, including 3D Blu-ray, SACD and DVD-Audio. It supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, but there's no support for HDR10+, which is a little disappointing.

Its picture is anything but, though. The Sony serves up a balanced, natural and nuanced image, which displays great depth and an impressive amount of detail. It's a musical player too, with excellent timing and a fine sense of rhythm with music and movies alike.

Read the full Sony UBP-X1100ES review

6. Panasonic DP-UB9000

A seriously capable 4K Blu-ray player for home cinema enthusiasts.

Specifications

Type: 4K Blu-ray

SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes

Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, 7.1 multi-channel analogue, RCA Phono, XLR

Dimensions (hwd): 8.1 x 43 x 30cm

Weight: 7.8kg

Reasons to buy

+Crisp, insightful picture+Dynamic expressive sound+Good selection of features

Reasons to avoid

-Very little at this price

There are some great budget 4K Blu-ray players in this list, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is the one to audition if you're in the market for a premium machine.

Its menu system is a little overcomplicated, but once you've got the Panasonic set up for your particular display, it serves up an entertaining and attention-grabbing image, bursting with colour. There's a great sense of depth and realism to 4K images that makes you sit up and take notice.

Soundtracks are delivered with plenty of weight and power, which is just what you want from a premium player like this. It has been bettered for outright musical ability, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is still well worth auditioning.

Read the full Panasonic DP-UB9000 review

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Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.

Sours: https://www.whathifi.com/us/best-buys/home-cinema/best-blu-ray-and-4k-blu-ray-players

Blu-ray Player Buying Guide

Audio/Video Connections
All regular and 4K Blu-ray players have HDMI outputs, which carry audio and video on a single cable to your TV or A/V receiver, simplifying connections. Regular Blu-ray players have HDMI 1.4 outputs, but newer 4K Ultra HD models have HDMI 2.0 outputs. Those that support HDR require HDMI 2.0a connections. Some Blu-ray players may have composite (yellow, red, and white) RCA connections for use with older gear.

In addition to HDMI outputs, many players also have digital optical or digital coaxial audio connections, or both. These support multichannel audio, as well as stereo. Some models may also offer stereo RCA connections for use with older stereo gear.

Video Streaming Options
An internet-enabled Blu-ray or Ultra HD player lets you enjoy streaming video on any HDTV; the TV doesn’t need to have internet capability. Players are compatible with different video services, so make sure a particular model supports the movie services of interest to you. Offerings vary by brand and sometimes by models within a brand. (In fact, if you have an internet-connected TV that doesn’t offer a streaming service you want, you might be able to get it by buying a different brand of Blu-ray player.) The available services could change over time if the player manufacturer makes different arrangements with video providers. If you plan to connect to the internet, determine whether you can deal with a wired connection to your home network or whether you want a player with WiFi capability; most models these days offer it.

Audio Capabilities
All Blu-ray players support 5.1-channel surround sound, and many offer 7.1-channel audio from Blu-ray discs. Almost all new Blu-ray players support high-resolution, multichannel audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, though some can internally decode the signals and others pass them to a capable receiver for decoding. To enjoy Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, you must use an HDMI connection, unless a player has an internal decoder and multichannel analog outputs. Some new models support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X immersive audio soundtracks found on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

Sours: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/blu-ray-players/buying-guide/index.htm
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Shopping for Blu-ray, DVD, CD and Other Disc Players

Blu-ray Disc

Blu-ray Disc is the latest high-definition (HD) optical disc media format. Video content is stored on Blu-ray discs at up to 1920-1080 pixel resolution, and audio content is stored in one of several lossless digital audio formats. More information can be found on the Blu-ray Disc Association Web site at https://us.blu-raydisc.com/.

DVD "Upconversion"

"Upscaling" or "upconverting" DVD players have the capability to convert Standard-definition (SD) video content from a DVD player for playback on a High-definition (HD) television. The conversion process does not add additional information to the video stream, so your DVD content will never truly be in high-definition, but it will allow DVD content to play back in full-screen on your HDTV and appear sharper and clearer than it would with a standard DVD player.

Multiple Format Capability

Many Blu-ray and DVD players also can playback discs encoded in other formats. For example, a Blu-ray disc player may also be able to function as a DVD player and a CD player. Likewise, your DVD player will often be able to play CDs. Most disc players can also play back recordable (R) or rewritable (RW) disc formats, such as DVD+R, DVD-R, CD-R, CD-RW, etc. Be sure to understand the format capability of your disc player.

Sours: https://www.energystar.gov/products/electronics/audiovideo/shopping_blu_ray_dvd_cd_and_other_disc_players
The Best Blu Ray Player For 2021 [Home Theater Streaming]

Even in the streaming age, there are some good reasons to watch movies on the humble Blu-ray player. A hardware player offers the best image and sound quality available, thanks to the enhanced storage capacities of Blu-ray discs. There are two types of Blu-ray disc options available: 4K UHD Blu-ray and 1080p Blu-ray. Both are a step up from a traditional DVD player, but getting a 4K player will let you play both kinds of Blu-rays and give you access to formats like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, DTS:X and HDR10. Even better, all of them will play your DVD and CD collections, too. Streaming problems like dropouts, bandwidth caps or buffering are nonexistent. But if you somehow want those, most of the best Blu-ray players options can also support streaming apps such as Netflix (some even in 4K) and Hulu.

Current gaming consoles like the high-end PS5 and the Xbox Series X can play both Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, in addition to the latest games. Plus, if you don't have a 4K TV and a library of only regular Blu-rays, you can save money by buying a 1080p-only player like the Sony BDP-S3700. 

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So, are you ready to make the most of your 4K content with the best Blu ray player? Grab an HDMI cable get ready to enjoy the excellent playback and top-notch viewing experience that Blu-ray players have to offer.

Best Xbox for Blu-ray movies

Xbox Series X

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

You'll have a hard time getting your hands on the Xbox Series X until later this year due to insatiable demand, but keep checking back on restock updates. This is the only current Xbox model that accepts optical discs. It can play DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, in addition to Xbox game discs. It can also be used with standard IR remotes, unlike the PS5. (The cheaper Xbox Series S does not have a disc slot.)

Read our Xbox Series X review.

Sours: https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/best-blu-ray-player/

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