The 9 Best 4K Blu-Ray Players
This wiki has been updated 9 times since it was first published in November of 2018. Now that 4K is becoming the standard for our media consumption, it's smarter than ever to invest in a high quality ultra HD Blu-ray player. Many of the models out there can also upscale your old Blu-rays and DVDs to perform at near-4K resolution, so you can keep your entire library intact while enjoying the best video and audio quality that the market has to offer, all for surprisingly low prices. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best 4k blu-ray player on Amazon.
November 20, 2018:
There are a lot of Blu-ray players on the market claiming to be 4K players, when what they mean is that they can upscale 1080 Blu-ray discs to 4K, without actually offering support for 4K Blu-ray discs. In weeding those out, we found some great offerings from Samsung and Sony in particular.
Why You Still Need A Movie collection
And now with the likes of Disney + and Apple TV to contend with, it seems like the physical media of film and television is doomed.
At the dawn of the cord-cutting revolution, there was Netflix. Amazon Prime and Hulu followed soon after, and it seemed for a moment that they would own the landscape for the foreseeable future. When Youtube launched its paid subscription service, there was a sense that it would inevitably fail. And plenty of smaller services did fail, like FilmStruck or Aereo.
At the time, with only the big three providing content and with their libraries only so big, it made sense to keep your hands on all your DVDs and Blu-rays. Then HBO Go launched, along with similar premium cable channel apps, as well as apps for standard cable channels like AMC and FX that users could access by logging in with their TV provider’s info. And every service had its own stable of films.
And now with the likes of Disney + and Apple TV to contend with, it seems like the physical media of film and television is doomed. But you shouldn’t give up on it just yet, and there are a few compelling reasons for this.
For starters, some of the best films in the world still don’t have reliable distribution through a single streaming service. The best example of this is the Criterion Collection. This selection of over 1,000 films contains some of the most important works in the global history of cinema, with greats from dozens of nations. The collection has consistently struggled to find a regular home on the web, however, living for brief periods on Hulu and Amazon, with a short stay on FilmStruck that ended when the company folded, resulting in such an outcry from cinephiles demanding access to the content that the Criterion company launched their own streaming service in response. For now, the films seem safe there, but there’s no guarantee.
One thing that’s particularly special about the Criterion Collection is its packaging. These DVDs and Blu-rays come with booklets full of essays, as well as multiple discs offering a wide assortment of special features, from director’s commentary to behind-the-scenes documentaries. This kind of content is one of the most important reasons to maintain a physical movie collection: the extras are irreplaceable.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the major collections' services aren't static, and there might be a movie you see on your favorite platform one day that’s nowhere to be found the next, unless of course you want to pay to rent it. And the more big players enter the marketplace, the more the sea of available content is going to be spread out, forcing you to subscribe to all of them in order to make sure you can access your favorite films whenever you want. In the end it’s far less expensive, and far more enjoyable to own a nice collection of discs you can pop into a reliable 4K Blu-ray player.
Choosing A 4K Blu-Ray Player
Picking a 4K Blu-ray player from among the better models on the market is likely going to come down to a few seemingly minor features, one of which may actually be its size and shape. Beyond the aesthetic consideration here, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that the cord-cutting revolution has contributed to the shrinking of the average entertainment center, and many consumers don’t have the kind of TV stand with all that hardware real estate they used to.
HDR support is important if you’re interested in achieving the best dynamic range available for your images.
Some other great features to look out for include HDR support, Bluetooth connectivity, and smart menus. HDR support is important if you’re interested in achieving the best dynamic range available for your images. Most 4K TVs offer some kind of high dynamic range, but it might not be as impressive if your Blu-ray player isn’t sending it the appropriate signals.
A Blu-ray player with Bluetooth connectivity isn’t going to send the video signal to your TV wirelessly, but it will enable you to utilize Bluetooth headphones when enjoying whatever content you’ve queued up. That can be a big help if your TV is in the bedroom and you want to watch something after your significant other has fallen asleep.
And along the lines of smart menus, these are going to be the same kinds of things you see built into your television or streaming box, allowing you to load up whatever service you prefer — from Netflix to HBO — without switching the source input on your TV. That way, you can use your Blu-ray player as your primary entertainment hub.
A Word About Upscaling
As you’re comparing the wide variety of 4K Blu-ray players that the market has to offer, you’ll no doubt come across the term upscaling. This is when a device attempts to use an algorithm to increase the resolution of content to a certain point, usually 4K. It can take a few different forms, however, some of which are far more disappointing than others.
It can take a few different forms, however, some of which are far more disappointing than others.
When a true 4K Blu-ray player talks about upscaling, it's usually talking about taking content that’s full HD (1920x1080 pixels) and using some incredibly complex math to duplicate and shade neighboring pixels in an attempt to increase its perceived resolution. This turns out to be a nice feature to have, especially if you have a large backlog of Blu-ray discs that aren’t in 4K, or even DVDs (which can’t upscale all the way to 4K, but which can be improved by the process).
The trouble comes when you find a manufacturer who’s created a regular Blu-ray player that doesn’t put out true 4K, but attempts to use an upscaling feature for all video. This often results in artifacts and blurring in even the most mundane sequences, and the process of blowing up the image can actually make it look less sharp than how it started. In short, make sure that the 4K Blu-ray player you’re thinking about getting is a true 4K player, and that its upscaling feature is intended to increase the resolution of HD video.
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