Samsung shows off first 4K UHD Blu-ray player, plans early 2016 launch

Since 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs started coming to market, home theater enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting content worthy of them. While streaming services are slowly but surely ramping up support for UHD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) programming, what we’ve really been waiting for is Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Samsung became the first company to officially announce a 4K UHD Blu-ray player at its IFA 2015 press conference in Berlin. Simply called the Ultra HD Blu-ray Player (UBD-K8500), at least for the time being, the player offers four times the resolution and 64 times the color expression of the standard HD Blu-ray format. The player supports HDR content and can play UHD Blu-ray at up to 60 frames per second.

“The new player is also capable of upscaling content to provide UHD resolution for any disc, as well as for 4K streaming services,” VP of visual display for Samsung Europe Michael Zoller said. The player is designed to complement existing Samsung ecosystems and therefore is designed with the same sleek curves as the company’s curved SUHD TVs. The Ultra HD Blu-ray Player is set to launch in Europe in 2016, but we are still hopeful we may see a U.S. version in time for the holidays.

The slick new player is nothing without content, which is where 20th Century Fox comes in to play. “When my colleagues at 20th Century Fox first saw the side-by-side comparison of 4K Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range, and compared that to just regular HD, it was reminiscent of the days between standard def and high def. This is a huge step up for our industry,” president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Mike Dunn said.

Samsung 4K UHD Blu ray Player 6

Dunn went on to announce that moving forward, all of the company’s new releases will be issued in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. “On some future models [of the Ultra HD Blu-ray player] the introduction of the digital bridge will allow consumers to actually sideload their content off the disc, and on to other devices,” Dunn said.

The company is also working on bringing its recent releases to the new 4K UHD format, ready to launch at the same time as the Ultra HD Blu-ray Player next year. As a preview, Dunn gave the audience a sneak preview of the box for the upcoming 4K UHD release of Kingsmen: The Secret Service.

No word on pricing for the Ultra HD Blu-ray Player was given, but it is safe to say it will sell at a premium over standard Blu-ray players.

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