Will a Blu-ray 4k Upscaling Player Play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs?

Sony UBP-X800M2 4K UHD Blu-Ray Disc Player (2019)
Sony UBP-X800M2 4K UHD Blu-Ray Disc Player (2019) Buy on Amazon

Are you looking to buy a 4k Blu-ray player and want to know what type to buy? Here’s an answer to your question about Blu-ray players that upscale to 4k.

A Blu-ray 4k upscaling player is not the same as a 4k Blu-ray player. There are two types of Blu-ray players: 1080p (HD) and 4k (Ultra HD). The former is the most common type of Blu-ray player, first available in around 2006, and plays Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs. 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray players first appeared ten years later in 2016 and can play 4k Blu-ray discs as well as other legacy disc formats.

An upscaling player, simply put, will not play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Only a true 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray player will play 4k Blu-ray discs. These types of disc players typically cost at least $150 more than an HD Blu-ray player, even one that upscales to 4k. See our list of the best 4k Blu-ray players.

What does upscaling mean? Upscaling is a way to take a lesser source such as SD (480p), HD (720p/1080i), or Full HD (1080p) and the video play it at a higher resolution. The player’s processor adds image data where it thinks data should be. The problem is, the original source material is not 4K and so it’s really not native resolution. An HD Blu-ray player that upscales to 4k is sort of fake 4k but will likely display a better image than a disc player that can’t upscale to 4k.

On the flip side, if you purchase a 4K Blu-ray player the specs will likely say that it is able to upscale content such as standard definition (480p), HD (720p), or Full HD (1080p) to 4K resolution. This generally means the same thing, except only the 4k Blu-ray player will play native 4k content from 4k discs.