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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43 comments

  1. Deaditelord

    I was going to wait a little longer before buying a 4k HDR HDTV, but decided to pull the trigger on a Sony 930d last Black Friday for two reasons:

    1. The Oppo 203 was about to be released.
    2. Growing concern that TV manufacturers were going to drop 3D from future models. Sadly that hunch was correct 🙁

    Anyway, that purchase resulted in an almost complete overhaul of my existing home theater equipment (AVR with Dolby Atmos, PS4 Pro, Roku Ultra) to accommodate 4k and HDR. The only thing I didn’t upgrade was speakers since my current temporary living arrangements have reduced my audio options to a Boston Acoustics P400 soundbar and Sennheiser HD600 headphones. No Dolby Atmos for at least another year or two, although at least I won’t need to buy another AVR.

    Overall, I’ve been quite impressed with the majority of the UHD blu-rays in HDR I’ve watched on the Sony 930D. I suppose the lack of Dolby Vision support might come back to bite me in the long run, but I don’t regret my decision to upgrade and I can’t help but wonder if there will be some sort of external hardware device or software breakthrough in the future that will allow Dolby Vision playback on HDTVs that only support HDR10.

  2. David batarseh

    I own a sony 930c (love the gotti speakers on the bezel) and purchased the samsung curved player and had nothing but issues with it(wont play certain LG films like Sicario.) I then purchased an xbox one S and it seemed like the image quality was not as good, (possible placebo,) so I eventually purchased a sony player. By far the Sony is the way to go and so far no issues with disk play back. So basically I own three UHD players and only two 4k tvs. Aka the life of an AV nerd. For anybody wanting demo material, I recommend Planet earth 2 for its wide color gamut, Billy Lyn for its image clarity and Sicario for its use of HDR. Also Ice age is an all around great example of all three. Thanks!

  3. I’m running 4k…. In the bedroom. In the living room, I have a 115 inch screen and 1080p projector, and I wasn’t going to get rid of that big screen for a maximum of 75 inch pannel, nor do I have the money right now to invest in a 4k projector.

    I was looking to upgrade the television in the bedroom anyways, it was a cheaply made display (got it for under $300 at WalMart), so it was time to upgrade. I went ahead and went with a Visio M series 55 inch to get the HDR10 and Dolby Vision support.

    I must say, I have mixed feelings on it. The stuff in true 4k has been amazing, and I have jumped on board with 4k gaming.

    With it being in the bedroom, I am not taking advantage of the audio yet, and finally ended up getting a nice soundbar after getting the television. Glad I went that route – the soundbar works GREAT for the bedroom.

    So I said I have mixed feelings. I have frustration that only HDMI 1 on most sets support HDR, meaning that I am currently swapping cables between my UHD Blu-Ray, PS4 Pro and NVidia Shield. I have not found a switch yet that properly supports 4k60, mainly due to the fact that companies are labling stuff as “4k compatable” without having 18Gbps circuitry, which leads to drop outs and handshake issues. Last thing you want is to be killed in the middle of gaming because the signal drops out on you when there is a lot going on on the screen.

    HDR is something that I haven’t been TOO happy with, not like others have. I have seen (so far, I just got the set a couple of weeks ago) only a handful of content, but so far, the only things I have been happy with were The Last of Us Remastered and Planet Earth 2 and Rocky Mountain Express. Here, you have amazing detail and color that seems to bring everything alive.

    The HDR I have been the most disappointed on was Final Fantasy XV, which is actually one of the first things I tried. I have seen a few other things in HDR like this, but the problem seems that people are trying to play on the extremes of either very dark or very light, and Final Fantasy XV (at least the begining of it) seems to emphasize the overly bright white. It looks awful and makes the game almost unplayable, because my eyes are in such pain. I’ve tried messing with the calibration and color settings, but haven’t found anything that I am happy with. Honestly, I am thinking of moving the PS4 back into the living room with the projector to play this game.

    The content that surprised me the most was The Hunger Games (which HDD didn’t give that great of a video score to). The clarity and detail is absolutely stunning. The movie doesn’t seem to benefit too much from HDR, but WOW, the DETAIL!!!!

    The movie I was expecting a huge jump, and it did not deliver, was Ghostbusters (1984). Of course, so far, I have only seen the first 5 minutes (while testing the disc out), so it may get better, but I was just expecting a huge jump in everything. The problem is, so far, HDR doesn’t really seem to add anything, and the movie was so grainy, that the added detail just emphasizes more grain rather than detail in the picture.

    I think so far the movie that was the biggest disappointment was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As I was ordering the 3D discs, I opted to get the 4k Dolby Vision version from Vudu. This actually was not that easy – you can only purchase the UHD version on a handful of devices (Vudu is still a 1080P app on the PS4 Pro and I believe it is on the Samsung UHD Blu-Ray player as well), and Dolby Vision only works if casting from my tablet, and then I got to remember to cast the app before the tablet will enable UHD. But that isn’t my issue with it – my issue is that it doesn’t look as good as HDR material I have seen on Netflix or Amazon (Amazon is also a pain in the butt to get working – very limited devices that support 4k HDR – I blame Amazon for their feud with Google for this issue).

    Anyways, I have two issues with FBAWTFT on Vudu – 1) There is a LOT Of noise in the picture in darker scenes, that tends to look like film grain, which is weird because the movie was shot digitally. IMDB says that it was shot at 3.4k and has a 4k Digital Intermediary. I wish I could say that I could see it, but the detail just does not seem to be there. 2) My second issue is that the Dolby Vision version seems to be weirdly colored – almost as if someone was just playing with the color palet and trying to see what they could do, rather than making it look realistic. Dark scenes are REALLY dark, to the point of looking like they take place in space rather than during nighttime in NYC. Skin tones tend to be shifted to the red in several areas (but that is not consistant), making the actors look like they got sunburns in many scenes. Outdoor daytime scenes are washed out. Everything about the picture quality just looks wrong on the Vudu 4k Dolby Vision version of this movie, and I am not sure if it is just Vudu’s version or if the 4k Disk version has a similar look. Once again, I played with my picture settings to see if everything was still setup right in Dolby Vision as it was in HDR and SDR.

    Another surprise is just because it is in 4k doesn’t mean that it is in HDR. For example, picked up several Imax movies. These were released on 4k Disc by Universal. It should come as no surprise that Universal seemed to have thrown an old transfer on the disc, so no expanded color pallet, which just looks wrong now (and slightly weird colors with skin tones in shows like Grand Canyon – River at risk looking more orange than bronze, and the brightness level is a bit too high).

    Quite frankly, the best looking 4k stuff overall seems to come from YouTube, as people are actually shooting IN 4k, and are usually not on sets. I have found myself subscribing to some channels just because they do put out pretty eye candy.

    So yeah, its been a mixed bag with me.

  4. m

    I just got a 4k tv (Sony 900e). My blurays now look like crap after watching 4k streaming content on Netflix and Youtube. I’m sitting 3.5 to 4 ft from this 49″ tv though (the recommended distance for 4k being 3.5ft). I’m not sure how many living rooms are set up to actually take advantage of 4k.

    A UHD player will be nice, but first I need movies that I actually want to see. Half of my blurays are older movies from Criterion. The only UHD I know of that I’d want to own is Alien Covenant, and I already bought the normal bluray. Will probably wait till Playstation makes a box with a UHD player, might switch to XboxX, but doubt it.

    • m

      -Seriously though, 4K is incredible! I’m constantly blown away by how detailed things are. After watching 4K 60fps clips of nature, I went for a real life walk, and my eyesight literally felt like it was a camera panning around on my shoulders. Really, it’s that real! =) If we get to 8 or 12k 60fps headsets, VR will be almost completely indistinguishable from reality.

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