What Is A 4k Blu-ray Player?

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

What is a 4k Blu-ray player? Will a regular Blu-ray player play 4k discs? Are 4k Upscaling Blu-ray players the same as true 4k Blu-ray players? Here are some answers to help you decide what you need for your home theater.

Ultra HD Blu-ray players were released in 2016 to support the first 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs from Fox, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. The players support a maximum of 2160p resolution (3840 x 2160 or 8.3 megapixels) which is 4x the amount of resolution that traditional Blu-ray supports (1920 x 1080p or 2.1 megapixels).

4k Blu-ray players also support HDR standards. Some 4k Blu-ray players support Dolby Vision (Sony, LG, Panasonic) while others support HDR10 (Samsung). However, most players support both Dolby Vision and HDR10 passthrough (some HDR10+ with firmware upgrades). Note: In 2019 Samsung stopped making 4k Blu-ray and 1080p Blu-ray players in US markets.

The players are connected via HDMI cable to your 4k TV, receiver, or soundbar. And, usually have a separate HDMI output for audio-only connections. 4k Blu-ray players often have optical audio output, USB (for firmware upgrades or playback of content on removable USB drives), mini-jack output for headphones, and Bluetooth connectivity for Bluetooth headphones.

4k Blu-ray players can also be used as streaming media players as they are typically “Smart” devices with apps for Disney+, Netflix, Max (formerly HBO Max), YouTube, and other internet-connected platforms. In this case, 4k discs are not required to play 4k content, only that the service is delivering 4k content.

Panasonic DP-UB420-K 4K Blu-ray Player (2019) Buy on Amazon

4k Blu-ray players provide state-of-the-art home media playback for home theater applications. 4k discs typically play content at 3-4 times the bitrates of 4k streaming services. And, require no internet connection or high-speed bandwidth. 4k Blu-ray Discs are regarded as the highest quality possible by today’s standards. (See our list of the Best 4k Blu-ray Discs of all time.)

See our list of the best 4k Blu-ray players available.

Please note an upscaling player 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 $100-$150 more than an HD Blu-ray player, even one that upscales to 4k.