Poll: Do You Have an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player?

The 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray format has been on the market for just over a year. Have you bought into it yet, or are you still happy with regular Blu-ray?

I’ve been an avid videophile for most of my adult life, and I’ve typically been on the leading edge of every new home video upgrade since the Laserdisc days. I spent a lot of money and exerted a lot of effort building a dedicated home theater with a large projection screen and Dolby Atmos surround sound. Despite all this, I’ve been content to stay pat with a 1080p projector (actually, two of them) and standard Blu-ray.

The unfortunate irony of the move to 4k video is that the better your home theater, the harder it is to upgrade. Although a typical consumer with a single-cord connection between their source content and their TV should have little problem replacing both of those devices with 4k models, I would have to replace (at a minimum) my disc player, one of my projectors, my video processor, any other components in between these things (switchers, splitters, etc.), and very likely the HDMI cable that currently runs behind my walls and above my ceiling. That would be a huge ordeal and expense that I’m just not ready for.

In addition to that, the difference between Blu-ray and UHD is smaller on a projector than on a flat-panel TV. Projectors struggle to hit the peak brightness requirements that make High Dynamic Range video worthwhile. The larger the screen, the less improvement is noticeable.

Furthermore, I am still very impressed with the image quality I get from watching a regular Blu-ray on my JVC projector, which is typically better than anything I see at a commercial cinema near me. I simply haven’t been aching for an upgrade the way I was during the move from DVD to Blu-ray.

On the other hand, I’m frustrated that some home video studios are making Dolby Atmos soundtracks exclusive to UHD even though there’s no impediment to putting them on Blu-ray too. I may have to eventually break down and buy a UHD player just for that, even if it means downconverting the video to 1080p.

Do You Own an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player?

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42 comments

  1. Csm101

    I voted for “considering it”. My intention for this is to be able to listen to Atmos and DTS:X on uhd while down converting to 1080p. I’m dying to listen to Deadpool, Pacific Rim (especially), Man of Steel, The Martian, Independence Day (which I’ve read is quite aggressive) and a few others in Atmos and DTS:X. I do think it is a BIG DICK MOVE to only put them on their 4k titles in a lot of cases. Fox is the biggest offender when it comes to this. I don’t think they’ve released a single bluray with Atmos or DTS:X. Warner was doing a great job of releasing everything new with Atmos, but now it seems they decided to cut it from their 3D. It’s still early to tell if they’ll keep doing this, but hopefully it won’t spread to every new release. All the greedy habits seem to be spreading among the studios. Probably by the end of the year, I’ll purchase a uhd player for listening purposes, but I’m having trouble choosing one. I want to get a cheapo model, but I’m scared it will become obsolete really quick, or that it will have playback issues with newer releases and firmware updates will not be available. I’ve been waiting for someone like myself who hasn’t upgraded to UHD but is object based ready to post some thoughts on how it works. Come on Josh, take the plunge and do an article on it. They are always detailed, meticulous, entertaining, and most importantly, educational. It would be awesome if HDD could pay for you to have one or let you borrow one so that you could do some tests on it, if you’d be willing to or had the time. I’m also curious as to how a downscaled uhd disc would look compared to a regular blu. Would it be exactly the same, or would there be some difference because of the HDR built into them (which I know would not work on a 1080 setup). I suppose I’ll find out soon enough, when I more than likely get one for myself.

  2. Everyone gets off the bus somewhere. Blu-ray is my stop. In fact a lot of my interest is in deep-catalog obscurities that will never see more than DVD-level restoration.

    I’m indifferent to audio.

    I have a UHD player and 55″ 4k display. The upgrade to OLED was very nice but the new resolution was not necessary for my viewing pleasure. I voted “can’t see the difference” but I mean “I see it but don’t care”.

    HDR hasn’t wowed me, but I’m waiting for user-level calibration tools, and for the studios to settle down with their authoring practices.

    I’ve upgraded many DVD favorites to Blu-ray. Upgrading those to UHD: no way.

    • This is exactly where I am. I’m still very happy with my Panasonic Viera plasma, and I love 3D. One day I’m sure I’ll upgrade to a 4K tv, but that day is really far off and I have no plans to ever buy 4K discs. By then it’ll just be streaming for me, and the few discs that I’m forced to buy to get the 3D versions of things.

  3. Bolo

    When my current Xbox dies, I’ll replace it with one that reads UHD. I’m in no rush.

    I doubt I will upgrade any of my existing movie collection from blu to UHD. UHD discs would only be for movies I don’t already own, or movies that I only have on standard def but just never upgraded to blu.

    • MalickFan

      You should wait for Xbox’s Project Scorpio at the end of the year. It will feature 4k graphics and UHD support. It probably will cost one mortgage payment but I think a good investment

  4. MalickFan

    I so far only own The Martian (Extended) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on UHD. Both look great but I don’t like how much research it takes before I buy an UHD disc. If something comes from a 2k source I don’t (generally) see the reason for to buy the UHD disc. I am really interested to see how 65mm converts to 4k (like The Master, The Hateful Eight and Interstellar).

  5. Archie Dickson

    So sad to read that so many people are of the same mindset as me. I too have a decent home theatre with 1080p projector, but I have no immediate plan to spend more money. We actually have 2 UHD TV’s at home, a 70″ Vizio and a 75″ Samsung and neither has HDR. But after spending $2700 on the Vizio two and a half years ago, DirecTV still only offers skydiving videos in 4K, or movies at $10 a pop. I did the unthinkable. I just returned my 4K client box to DirecTV rather than continue paying the $7 per month. A 4K projector upgrade would cost around $15K if I want a Sony with HDR. That is astronomical money, despite the fact that I have disposable income and I consider myself an early adopter. Sorry, but I will continue with 1080p for now.

  6. Warner

    Currently updating my system to Atoms (very excited) but have no plans to upgrade to a 4k projector right now. This in part based on an article Josh wrote on this blog awhile back that very few movies are filmed in 4k, so most of what you get is up converted 1080. The 4k picture is good, but the 4k projectors are still really expensive. I’m sure at some point I’ll go 4k, but years from now when I need to replace my projector, when 4k projector prices come down, and when more content is being made and provided on 4k.

  7. Chris B

    I haven’t even seen a 4K Blu-Ray in action to judge what kind of an upgrade it is. My local BestBuy doesn’t even have a player and UHD TV set up for a demo. Way to promote the format guys!

  8. Kenn

    my Panasonic bd30 decided to die, so rather than buying another just blu ray player, i threw down for the Samsung.. i wish i could have held out for the Oppo, or the newer non curved looking Samsung that’s supposed to be released

  9. cmdrdredd

    I was an early adopter and I can’t go back. Especially if I do an A/B comparison of a scene in HDR vs SDR. It’s just too huge of an upgrade for me.

  10. Have the Oppo player but haven’t been too impressed with the 4K format so far- it’s certainly not worth giving up 3D for. I’ll buy 4K discs of 2D movies, but will still always buy 3D Blu-Rays of movies that are in 3D.

  11. I’m not in any rush. I’m happy with my 1080p display, and expect to keep it at least 2-3 more years. I’ll probably get a UHD player when I get a new display, but until then, it’s not something I consider.

  12. I don’t own one yet – waiting for new gear. UHD tv with Dolby Vision, receiver that supports 9 amplifiers or more, Oppo 203 “D” model maybe by that point? I do buy the 4K combo packs though to semi-future proof my collection. Honestly if I were to buy a movie that is HDR and they release a Dolby Vision one later that’s not enough to merit a new copy.

  13. Ryan

    I have yet to watch a TRUE 4K movie….just netflix and amazon prime. Which, let’s be honest, is probably worse than a standard bluray. And of course, I have played a small handful of games in 4K. Again, unless I am sitting 3-4 feet from my 65inch TV, I can’t see a difference during actual gameplay.

    Once the Scorpio comes out, I’ll probably buy a few UHD movies to test

    My TV is an LG OLED C6 (Best 3D ever!)

  14. AddictedToStories

    And my 7.1 sound system is based on large speakers (large, heavy speakers). I have no plans to hang ceiling speakers in the current house, so no need for Atmos.

    I’m not buying a 4K HD tv until at least one of my TVs die of natural causes – but

    – My Pioneer Kuro Elite 60″ plasma is still working beautifully in the living room

    – And the Sony 40″ KV-40XBR Trinitron TV (yes, the 300 pound actual honest-to-goodness CRT television) is still running strong in the game room

    The funny thing is – I am already buying 4K discs (that also come with normal Blu-rays) – even though I can’t play or display anything in 4K – because I know that sometime, sometime I will upgrade. It’s not the 4K I care about – but I am looking forward to one day seeing the extended color range/HDR.

  15. Even if I went ahead when the prices drop some, almost no one rents UHD. I’m not going to buy a UHD Blu-ray every time I want to see something. If Netflix starts carrying them, then I’ll move ahead. The other thing, though, is that while I do have a 4K HDR OLED, the screen is only 55″. Not sure I’d see that much of a difference.

  16. Monty Britton

    Love 4K UHD discs and will love it even more when I get my LG 2017 OLED TV next day or two with HDR and DOLBY VISION.
    I have never viewed one of my 90 discs in HDR and hoping the new OLED will make them shine (I still have 2015 Samsung JU7500). I will love 4K UHD even more!!

  17. Melvin

    I have the Xbox one S and have watched YouTube videos in 4k and the films or movies don’t look any different from what I’ve seen 1080 still looks great and good enough for these 48 year old eyes.

  18. Pedram

    I think Planet Earth 2 in UHD/HDR is the only content that makes me want to get one. There hadn’t really been anything else that screams “must watch in Ultra HD” before that for me.

    I’ll wait for the price to come down a little before I take the plunge though, since they’re still pretty pricey.

    It’s just a shame that the PS4 pro doesn’t play UHD discs. What lack of foresight. From a movie company no less.

  19. AML

    My oppo BP 203 is amazing. Constantly blown away by all the (real) 4k transfers out there. Unfortunately a lot of transfers are still 2k upsacles.

  20. Is there a list out there somewhere which 2015-2016 TVs are compatible with UHD? Because I remember from a Josh article last year that you are 99% sure to be shit out of luck regarding compatibility if you didn’t happen to have bought the newest of the new 4K TV.

    I’m also confused about the Xbox One S article on HDD, which mentions only one HDMI-cable output. What does this mean? And why is this inferior? #noob

    • Hey Julian,

      The one cable output is because most recievers and soundbars still don’t support 4k, much less 4k60. On my PS4 Pro, I am having to use the SPIDIF connection on the TV to connect to the soundsystem, as the sound system doesn’t support 4k. The TV and sound system both support HDMI-ARC, but the TV only has ARC on HDMI-1, which is the only port that does HDR.

      My UDH player has 2 HDMI outputs. The advantage of this is that I can then connect one directly to the television, and the other goes to the sound system. This way I can get 4k HDR, without having to sacrifice audio.

      You realize I said that I connected the UDH player directly to the TV. Yeah, right now, I am swapping cables, because only HDMI1 (and the same is true on most UHD TVs) supports HDR, and then you have to go and manually turn the feature on – its not on by default, and requires digging through menus. Then if it handshakes wrong, you have to power down everything (pretty much yank the power cord because my systems go into a kind of deep sleep mode when you power it off instead of a complete powerdown), power everything back up, and if it still does not handshake HDR (very obvious, colors will be washed out in overwhelming whiteness), then you have to go in, disable HDR, Power everything off, power everything back on, and turn HDR back on.

      But the reason I am switching cables is because I have yet to find a switch that works. I have tried 4 different switches, all rated 4k, all say on their Monoprice or Amazon descriptions that they support 4k60 at 18Mbps with HDCP 2.2 and HDR, but this is not the case. One would only pass information from the NVidia Shield with no HDR, and wouldn’t handshake on the PS4 or the UHD player at all. That was the monoprice listing. Turns out that it is actually a 10Mbps switch that had been hacked to handshake HDCP 2.2, but couldn’t handle the information. The ones I got from Amazon work with the PS4Pro and the UHD Player just fine, until you get a lot of information going on on the screen, then loose signal. The NVidia Shield I had to force down to 24Hz to get it to handshake with the switch. On the plus side, I can use the switches in other parts of the house, so I guess it works out in the end.

  21. It’s all about HDR guys. I find the difference in detail between a good Blu-ray transfer and Ultra HD to be negligible at best (noticeable, but negligible), but it’s the color “boost” that HDR provides that really makes the difference.

  22. Jason Radcliff

    I can’t wait to see people bitch about others “still buying blu-rays” you know, the way they do about people still buying DVD’s.

  23. Brian Hoss

    I’m in with the new video and audio formats, but aside from a Dolby Vision UHD Blu-ray, I’m hoping to avoid another avr & display upgrade for a few years. I held out for this, but now have two home theaters worth.

    Meanwhile, has anyone else caught the new Ghost in Shell yet? I came looking for a review. I went in with low expectations and was really pleased with much of the movie. The visuals and action are worth seeking out. I’d love a director’s cut that bolsters the plot somewhat.

  24. Ross

    Upgrading doesn’t interest me. I upgraded all my gear last year, projector, AVR and last month speakers. I find the new sound formats very exciting but the so called upgrade in picture quality does nothing for me. The detail on my projector combined with my darblet and Oppo is outstanding. A friend of mine as an OLED and it looks great, but it’s still a TV and I won’t have the cinematic experience that my projector provides. Not to mention UHD standards are all over the place. It will take years before we see anything concrete. I have spent the money and time on calibration software to make sure my projector is as accurate at possible. HDR requires a lot of light output and as Josh stated I really don’t think I will notice that much of a difference. My projector is plenty bright enough for my light controlled room at 12lf. I wouldn’t want it brighter than that.

    Also, the UHD titles out now don’t interest me. 90% of the BD’s I purchase are catalogue titles and the reviews I have read on the titles I actually would buy have not been favorable. I’m more than satisfied with the transfers coming from Shout and Criterion and I’m confident the new Heat and Unforgiven mastered in 4K will blow me away like Goodfellas did last year.

  25. Neil

    The bigger the screen the more noticeable is the improvement with 4k.
    You do need to spend serious money to achieve impact and clarity from surround sound.
    In the end it is the calibre of the film that really counts.
    Enjoy!

    • True, and that’s why I really don’t have much interest in 8K. With a 65″ screen, the detail boost I get from 4K isn’t all that significant (again, it’s all about HDR for me), so how big of a screen would I need to see the difference between 4K and 8K? I don’t think my living room is big enough for THAT TV. 😉

  26. I purchased the Samsung UHD player when it first came out. UHD Blu-rays look better than regular blu-ray but I only purchase UHD discs of a select few films that I want to have the best possible copy of because the price is still high at about$30 each. I purchase other UHD discs if they go on sale. I recently got the first John Wick on UHD for $15.00. With my Samsung TV’s excellent 4K upscaling, regular Blu-ray discs look very good also.

  27. yurt drozdowski.

    The UHD OPPO 203 is a MUST…..Dolby Vision Firmware coming soon…..+ new Onkyo AV Amp also with Dolby Vision and the new Oled TV’s ( 2017 ) from LG….Video made in Heaven…..Yummy !!!

  28. eric

    Finally next week there is an update to Xbox One that allows for uncompressed audio so Dolby Atmos and DTS:X will now work. I have been using the Samsung UHD player which I like a lot and it makes Blu-Ray looks even better than it did before. The sound from the Samsung is phenomenal but I still prefer the user experience and apps on the Xbox One.

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