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The best 4K Blu-ray players for 2021

With VOD platforms like Netflix and Disney+ now offering 4K streams of our favorite movies and shows with the click of a button, experiencing UHD from the comfort of your living room has never been easier. But a great 4K Blu-ray player can make all the difference when it comes to the best of picture and sound.

Once an expensive piece of additional hardware for the first wave of 4K TV owners, UHD players have dropped significantly in price over the last several years and can do more now than ever before, with impressive new codecs like Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X.

Read on for our list of the best 4K Blu-ray players on the market, including the versatile Sony UBP-X700. If you don’t already have a TV in mind, you’ll want to explore your options for those, too.

At a glance

The best: Sony UBP-X700

Why you should buy this: With all the essentials — Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, HDR10, and all — it can handle any home cinema needs.

Who it’s for: Those who want to feel confident that their system won’t whimper at the highest quality 4K content available.

Why we picked the Sony UBP-X700:

Sony’s goal was to make the most versatile system it could, and the UBP-X700 doesn’t hold back. With Dolby Vision and HDR10 holding up their ends of the bargain on the video side, and Dolby Atmos joining hands with DTS:X for immersive object-based surround sound capabilities, the UBP-X700 will always push the best possible fidelity available.

In testing, we found performance to be exceptional across the board, with the player offering eye-popping clarity and color. We also noticed a vastly expanded soundstage for UHD Blu-rays when compared to identical movies in streaming formats, a testament to Sony’s masterful audio processing.

It’s remarkable that you can find all of this in a single package, especially considering the Sony UBP-X700 is regularly available for under $200.

Read our Sony UBP-X700 review

The best for audio enthusiasts: Sony UBP-X800M2

Why you should buy this: It offers incredible sights and sounds, including Dolby Atmos, 4K Ultra HD, and Dolby Vision + HDR10 support.

Who it’s for: Those who refuse to compromise on fidelity for either the video or audio side.

Why we picked the Sony UDP-X800M2:

There was a lot to like about the original Sony UBP-X800, but most notable was its use of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X alongside Sony’s excellent Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE HX), which allowed it to offer cinema-level sound in your home. Combined, these traits offer unmatched audio.

The only problem was the lack of Dolby Vision support, but Sony corrected that mistake for the newer UBP-X800M2, making it a high-octane option that needs to be in any serious home theater setup. You’ll pay handsomely for the upgraded fidelity, but it’s worth the peace of mind knowing your UHD Blu-ray collection will always look and sound its best.

With the aforementioned DSEE HX support, the Sony UBP-X800M2 is the best option for those who like to pipe a lot of music through their home theater system. The Blu-ray player neatly unpacks compressed audio formats like MP3 and FLAC, among others, to deliver hi-fi sound that’s far more abstract than others are capable of. It almost makes us forget that Oppo’s UDP-203 ever existed. Almost.

The best budget Ultra HD player: LG UP870

Why you should buy this: It has the necessities for crystal clear 4K Blu-ray without breaking the bank.

Who it’s for: The home theater builder on a budget.

Why we picked the LG UP870:

The LG UP870 doesn’t jump off the page when it comes to features, but if all you’re after is a competent 4K Blu-ray player, that’s exactly what you’re getting here. LG sadly opts out of Dolby Vision, but the UP870 still has HDR10 for increased vibrancy in movies that support it.

Your premium surround sound prospects remain intact with Dolby Atmos on board, too. The LG UP870 can also upscale DVDs, so even the oldest films in your collection will look great on a 4K set. We would have liked a few popular streaming apps for those who want their Blu-ray player to be the sole benefactor of their home theater’s connected capabilities, but we would sooner recommend you pick up an affordable streaming stick.

The best for voice assistants: Panasonic DP-UB420

Why you should buy this: You’re looking to add voice control to your home theater experience.

Who it’s for: Those who are trying to minimize the number of remote controls needed when watching a film.

Why we picked the Panasonic DP-UB420:

Panasonic has a long and healthy track record of producing some of the finest mid- to high-tier Blu-ray players, and the UB420 is the latest in its lineup of connoisseur-style hardware. The UB420 comes loaded with the latest premier video codecs, including HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG formats. Colors and overall vibrancy are taken a step further by Panasonic’s Hollywood Cinema processor, which delivers a chroma-enriched 4K image.

For those who are looking to ditch the remote control, Panasonic has got you covered. The Panasonic UB420 is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. Just connect the player to Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to play/pause, stop, rewind/fast forward, and view media menus using nothing more than your voice.

The most fun: Microsoft Xbox One X

Xbox One X review controller in front
Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: You want 4K games to go alongside your movies.

Who it’s for: Those who want a one-stop entertainment machine that does almost everything.

Why we picked the Xbox One X:

While there may be two major 4K gaming consoles on the market, only one of them can boast 4K Blu-ray capabilities, and that’s the Xbox One family. The Xbox One X is the quintessential all-in-one box that can take over a living room. You can play video games at resolutions up to 4K with HDR10 for lifelike color, and then grab some popcorn to wind down and watch your favorite movies in stunning detail.

You might think that a gaming console would skimp on connections, but the One X features three USB 3.0 ports, 5GHz WiFi, an Ethernet port, S/PDIF ports, and two HDMI ports, though the HDMI-in port is simply a passthrough meant for cable or satellite set-top boxes.

Unlike most other Blu-ray players, the Xbox One X never stops evolving. It has tons of streaming apps in the Xbox Store, all regularly updated with the latest user experience and features. Netflix offers Dolby Vision support, for instance, which not even the Blu-ray disc player inside can yet claim. System updates also come in more regularly than traditional Blu-ray players, often with sweeping changes that only add to the experience such as when Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos eventually showed up (albeit in limited form).

While we consider it perverse not to pair your beautiful 4K TV with a console that takes full advantage of it, you may also want to consider the Xbox One S. It only offers ordinary 1080p gaming, but it has all the same Blu-ray capabilities as the Xbox One X at a much more comfortable price point.

It’d be irresponsible of us not to mention a couple of major pitfalls as it pertains to the Xbox One’s Dolby Vision implementation. Microsoft launched the feature in 2018, but it used a newer version of the Dolby Vision software that supports low-latency gaming.

The result? If you have an older TV, like a 2016 LG OLED TV, it isn’t compatible with the Xbox One’s gaming-specific implementation of Dolby Vision (even if the TV says it supports Dolby Vision). The earliest models with support came in 2017, and that list widened greatly in the years to follow. Dolby maintains a list of all TVs that are compatible with this version of Dolby Vision, so check to see that yours has the green light before making a purchase.

Ironically, there are no games that offer Dolby Vision support as of this writing, so all of the headaches have been for naught. You’ll be able to enjoy Dolby Vision when streaming content from Netflix on the Xbox One X, but for now, Blu-ray discs and games are limited to the still-excellent HDR10.

Read our full Xbox One X review

The best 4K upscaling: Sony BDP-S6700

Best Blu-ray players sony dbp-s5500

Why you should buy this: Your 1080p Blu-ray movies will look more like 4K with the magic worked by the Sony BDP-6700.

Who it’s for: Those who want older Blu-ray movies to look their best on 4K TVs.

Why we picked the Sony BDP-S6700:

While it can’t handle Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the Sony BDP-S6700 upscales your 1080p Blu-rays to show movies in higher detail on your 4K TV. This is a great option for someone who has amassed a sizable Blu-ray collection but isn’t quite ready to reinvest in new hardware and media, especially with 8K looming. The BDP-S6700 also upscales DVDs to 1080p if you happen to have a few of those still laying around.

Although you can’t enjoy UHD Blu-ray, the BDP-S6700 can stream 4K content from Netflix, Amazon Video, and more. The latest model has a better Wi-Fi chip that goes along with an Ethernet port to facilitate that.

With the Sony BDP-S6700 TV SideView app, you can control the user interface with your smartphone, though the included remote is decent enough that you might only use that feature when you lose it. The most exciting of the app’s abilities is to beam your smartphone screen to your TV, which comes in handy for sharing personal and obscure content that you normally wouldn’t be able to access with the player alone.

How we test

Buying a new entertainment system is a significant investment, but even if you’re on a budget, you can find high-quality hardware that won’t break the bank. Because we make sure everything is worth the money, testing is a huge component of choosing the best 4K Blu-ray players. We begin each model year by bringing in the top-tier televisions from each major brand, including LG and Samsung. These premium televisions help set the highest standard for the year, manage expectations for each model below them, and provide much-needed context among the competitors.

We also test compatibility by connecting various media players to the best TVs we’re reviewing. We run tests for weeks and months to ensure no issues arise and all performance features work as they should.

We like to test similar models made by competing brands side-by-side to compare and contrast picture quality and other differences. We also double-check the specifications provided by each manufacturer for real-world context. The comprehensive evaluation we perform helps us reach an in-depth understanding of both players, to give as much information as possible.

We value providing the most thorough feedback available to our readers, which is why we take every measure possible to test every aspect of each player. You want to buy devices that will last as long as possible, so we only recommend those we truly stand behind.

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