It may seem strange to purchase a disc player when streaming services offer so much great entertainment on demand, but hard-copy media still offers the highest-quality experience. It also makes it possible to throw in an old copy of your favorite CD or movie that hasn’t yet been licensed to stream.
If you’re going to buy a new player, we recommend going all the way: Ultra HD Blu-ray players will future-proof your setup and provide a level of picture quality that’s second to none at an increasingly affordable price point. Whether you’re looking to simply swap out a broken Blu-ray player or upgrade to a gorgeous Ultra HD unit, we’ve got a pick for you. Also, don’t forget to browse through our list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs to really show off what your system can do.
At a glance
|Sony UBP-X700||Best Blu-ray player overall|
|Sony UBP-X800||Best Blu-ray player for music|
|LG-UP870||Best budget Ultra HD player|
|Microsoft Xbox One S||Most fun player|
|Sony BDP-S6500||Best 4K upscaling Blu-ray player|
Why you should buy this: It offers the most immersive cinema-style playback around, including 4K Ultra HD, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos support.
Who it’s for: Those who want a player that will offer them the best possible 4k Ultra HD viewing experience, regardless of format.
How much it will cost: $180 to $200
Why we picked the Sony UBP-X700:
Sony’s UBP-X700 is an affordable home theater masterpiece. With excellent video and audio processing, the player will play any of your favorite discs at their maximum possible fidelity.
Unlike its bigger brother, the UBP-X800, this model offers both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, which means that you’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous contrast and wide color gamut offered by both of the leading high-dynamic range formats. That, plus support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround sound (in addition to various other established surround sound formats) means that you’ll never have to worry about getting the most immersive experience possible in your home theater.
Add in the fact that all that technology is available inside the UBP-X700 at the easy-to-stomach $200 mark, and you understand why this is our favorite player on the market right now.
Read our Sony UBP-X700 review
The best for audio enthusiasts
Why you should buy this: It offers incredible sights and sounds, including Dolby Atmos, 4K Ultra HD, and HDR10 support.
Who it’s for: Those who refuse to compromise on fidelity for either the video or audio side.
How much it will cost: $198 to $250
Why we picked the Sony UDP-X800:
There’s a reason Sony’s UDP-X800 tops virtually every Blu-ray player list you can find. Sony’s UDP-X800 has stepped in to fill the void left by the shocking demise of the best Blu-ray player maker in the world, Oppo Digital. This player offers just about everything you could want, including gorgeous 4K resolution, high-end audio decoding that includes both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and HDR10 to bring the very best performance out of every disc in your collection.
While you’ll pay a bit more for the UDP-X800 than for the UBP-X700 listed above, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. That’s because it offers the company’s DSEE HX audio processing, which will take everything from Mp3 to FLAC files and make them sound absolutely astonishing. So if you’re the kind of person who wants a player that spins both audio and video discs, this is likely the option for you.
One thing it unfortunately doesn’t offer is Dolby Vision HDR, so those with Dolby Vision-supported TVs will definitely want to keep this in mind. But if you want to get the very best quality out of your top-tier home theater setup (without dropping more than $1,300 on the last of ), this is the player for you.
Read our Sony UBP-X800 review
The best budget Ultra HD player
Why you should buy this: It comes at a low price, but doesn’t sacrifice image quality.
Who it’s for: The audio and video enthusiast on a budget.
How much it will cost: $229
Why we picked the LG UP870:
If you’re looking to enjoy your favorite Hollywood blockbusters in full 4K HDR glory but don’t want to tap your vacation fund to do it, LG’s UP870 is our go-to pick. This Blu-ray player is a perennial favorite, and now it can be had for a crazy-low price. Like the UDP-X800, this Blu-ray player does not offer Dolby Vision HDR — an odd exclusion for LG, which adds Dolby Vision to many of its top TVs.
You also won’t get streaming apps, but frankly, if you have a 4K Ultra HD TV (which you’d better if you’re buying a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player), your TV’s onboard streaming is likely better than any Blu-ray player’s apps anyway. More to the point, we suggest those who want a great streaming experience buy one of these affordable devices tailor-made for the job. The UP870 may be low on frills, but it offers speedy performance at a great price, and that’s a deal in our book.
The most fun
Why you should buy this: You want an Ultra-HD player and also love to game.
Who it’s for: Those who want the maximum amount of functionality (and fun) for their money.
How much it will cost: $200 to $300
Why we picked the Xbox One S:
If you want a great Blu-ray player and you’re also into video games, the Xbox One S offers serious value for your dollars. An attractive gaming console with sleek looks and a great price point, this version of the Xbox One is the most affordable way to double down, so to speak, as it offers tangible improvements in performance over the original Xbox One console that include the addition of an Ultra HD player, all at a killer price.
Like most high-end Blu-ray players on the market, the console features a USB 3.0 port, and Ethernet, S/PDIF, and USB 3.0 ports, in addition to two HDMI ports (one in, one out). A one-stop solution for everything from gaming to high-end A/V viewing, the Xbox One S offers 4K streaming and a beautiful picture, with HDR10 support that provides impressive contrast. If you’re a more serious gamer, you may also want to consider jumping up to the newer Xbox One X, which offers better graphics and a speedier processor. Either way, if you need a Blu-ray player with versatility and dual personalities, the Xbox One is a great choice.
Read our full Xbox One S review
The best 4K upscaling
Why you should buy this: It will make your standard Blu-ray discs pop on your HD TV or that new 4K TV.
Who it’s for: Viewers who don’t want to make the leap into 4K Blu-ray discs, but want to squeeze the best possible picture out of their current collection.
How much it will cost: $150
Why we picked the Sony BDP-S6500:
If you don’t know whether you’ll ever make the leap into Ultra HD Blu-ray, but you want to view your current collection at the highest possible quality, there’s no better option on the market than Sony’s BDP-S6500. A standard Blu-ray player that also upscales 1080p Blu-ray content to 4K for the latest generation of TVs, the player takes your now-aging collection and makes it look prettier than ever on your new screen.
In addition to awesome disc playback, a powerful Wi-Fi chip and Ethernet port enable fast 4K streaming. Finally, Sony’s TV SideView app lets you control your screen from your smartphone, as well as share your entire smartphone screen with your TV (for select phones), which is great for showing friends and family pictures and video.
How we test
We begin each model year by bringing in the top-tier televisions from each of the major brands, including Samsung, Sony, LG, and Panasonic. These premium televisions help set the highest standard for the year, managing expectations for each model below them, and providing context among the competitors.
We typically test any media player with a number of these high-end TVs, checking compatibility and performance over a series of weeks or even months in our A/V testing room.
When possible, we’ll place two competing models side by side to analyze picture quality differences, providing real-world context to the specifications provided by each manufacturer.
We make a concerted effort to test every aspect of a given player, making sure to provide the most thorough feedback possible to our readers. After all, you’ll be living with your new player for years to come, and we only want to recommend devices that we ourselves enjoy.
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