It may seem strange to purchase a disc player when the best streaming servicesoffer less compressed audio and video than their streaming counterparts, but hard-copy media still offers the highest-quality experience, while also making it possible to watch an old copy of your favorite movie that hasn’t been licensed to stream.
If you’re going to buy a player, we recommend going all the way: Ultra HD Blu-ray players will future-proof your setup and provide a level of picture quality you’ve never seen before. Thatsaid, whether you’re looking to change out a broken Blu-ray player or upgrade to a gorgeous Ultra HD unit, we’ve got a pick for you.
Check out our favorites below, from top-tier to budget deals. Then browse through our list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discsto really show off what your system can do, and our picks of the best Dolby Atmos moviesto rain down sound effects for ultra immersion.
|Sony UDP-X800||Best Blu-ray player overall|
|LG-UP870||Best budget Ultra HD player|
|Microsoft Xbox One S||Most fun|
|Sony BDP-S6500||Best 4K upscaling Blu-ray player|
|Sony BDP-S3500||Best replacement Blu-ray player|
Why you should buy this: It offers incredible sights and sounds, including Dolby Atmos and HDR10 support.
Who it’s for: Those who refuse to compromise on either the video or audio side.
How much it will cost: $248
Why we picked the Sony UDP-X800:
There’s a reason Sony’s UDP-X800 tops virtually every Blu-ray player list you can find. In the void left by the shocking demise of the best Blu-ray player maker in the world, Oppo Digital, Sony’s UDP-X800 has stepped in to fill the void in a big way. This player offers just about everything you could want, including gorgeous 4K resolution, high-end audio decoding that includes both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and HDR10 to bring the very best performance out of every disc in your collection.
As you read on, you’ll find Sony’s players dominating this list, and that’s simply because the company is offering the best products at the right prices. While you’ll pay a bit more for the UDP-800, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. If you want to get the very best quality out of your top-tier home theater setup (without dropping over $1300 on the last of Oppo’s coveted UDP-203), this is the player for you.
Why you should buy this: It comes at a low price, but doesn’t sacrifice image quality.
Who it’s for: The audio and video enthusiast on a budget.
How much it will cost: $110 to $120
Why we picked the LG UP870:
If you’re looking to enjoy your favorite Hollywood blockbusters in full 4K HDR glory but don’t want to tap your vacation fund to do it, LG’s UP870 is our go-to pick. This Blu-ray player is a perennial favorite, and now it can be had for a crazy-low price. One thing you won’t get with this Blu-ray player is Dolby Vision HDR — an odd exclusion for LG, which adds Dolby Vision to many of its top TVs.
You also won’t get streaming apps, but frankly, if you have a 4K Ultra HD TV (which you’d better if you’re buying a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player), your TV’s onboard streaming is likely better than any Blu-ray player’s apps anyway. More to the point, we suggest those who want a great streaming experience buy one of these affordable devices tailor-made for the job. The UP870 may be low on frills, but it offers speedy performance at a great price, and that’s a deal in our book.
Why you should buy this: You want an Ultra-HD player and also love to game.
Who it’s for: Those who want the maximum amount of functionality (and fun) for their money.
How much it will cost: $210 to $300
Why we picked the Xbox One S:
If you’re also into video games,there’s no more perfect option to spin your Ultra HD Blu-ray discs than the Xbox One S. An attractive gaming console with sleek looks and a great price point, this version of the Xbox One is our favorite, with tangible improvements in performance over other, older versions of the console that include the addition of an Ultra HD player.
Like most high-end Blu-ray players on the market, the console features a USB 3.0 port, Ethernet, S/PDIF, and USB 3.0 ports, in addition to two HDMI ports (one in, one out). A one-stop solution for everything from gaming to high-end A/V viewing, the Xbox One S offers 4K streaming and a beautiful picture, with HDR 10 support that provides extremely vibrant colors. If you’re looking to add as much functionality as possible to your home theater at a still-affordable price point, the Xbox One S is a very enticing choice.
Read our full Xbox One S review
Why you should buy this: It will make your standard Blu-ray discs pop on that new 4K TV.
Who it’s for: Viewers who don’t want to make the leap into 4K Blu-ray discs, but want to squeeze the best possible picture out of their current collection.
How much it will cost: $99
Why we picked the Sony BDP-S6500:
If you don’t know whether you’ll ever make the leap into Ultra HD Blu-ray, but you want to view your current collection at the highest possible quality, there’s no better option on the market than Sony’s BDP-S6500. A standard Blu-ray player that upscales 1080p Blu-ray content to 4K for the latest generation of TVs, the player takes your now-aging collection and makes it look prettier than ever on your new screen.
In addition to offering awesome disc playback, a powerful Wi-Fi chip and Ethernet port enable fast 4K streaming. Finally, Sony’s TV SideView app lets you control your screen from your smartphone, as well as share your entire smartphone screen with your TV, which is great for showing friends and family pictures and video.
Why you should buy this: You need a cheap replacement for your current Blu-ray player.
Who it’s for: Viewers who need a new Blu-ray player to play their favorite CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs, but who never plan on buying any Ultra HD Blu-ray content.
How much it will cost: $73
Why we picked the Sony BDP-S3500:
Some people are so into streaming that they don’t ever plan on buying a disc again — but everyone needs a way to play back their CD, DVD, and Blu-ray collection. That’s where players like Sony’s ultra-affordable BDP-S3500 come in. A simple, no-nonsense player with Dolby TrueHD, built-in Wi-Fi, and up to 300 streaming apps available, this little black box will allow you to enjoy your once-coveted discs in great quality, with some Netflix on the side. If you’re looking to replace a recently broken player, this is a great pick.
We begin each model year by bringing in the top-tier televisions from each of the major brands, including Samsung, Sony, LG, and Panasonic. These premium televisions help set the highest standard for the year, managing expectations for each model below them, and providing context among the competitors.
We typically test any media player with a number of these high-end TVs, checking compatibility and performance over a series of weeks or even months in our A/V testing room.
When possible, we’ll place two competing models side by side to analyze picture quality differences, providing real-world context to the specifications provided by each manufacturer.
We make a concerted effort to test every aspect of a given player, making sure to provide the most thorough feedback possible to our readers. After all, you’ll be living with your new player for years to come, and we only want to recommend devices that we ourselves enjoy.