Last updated: 16/10/2022

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With the help of a 4K Blu-ray player, you can experience your favourite films in a new way. 4K content is enhanced both visually and tonally. Images are now sharper, contrasts clearer and colours more lifelike. Dolby Atmos enables a sound experience like in the cinema. But which 4K Blu-ray player is the right one for my needs? What factors should I look for when buying?

Our big 4K Blu-ray player test 2022 answers these questions and should help you find the right device. We have compared several models with each other based on various criteria and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages in order to present you with the 4K Blu-ray player test winner. This should make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • A 4K Blu-ray player gives you enhanced movie experiences with clear and detailed images, crisp colours and optimised immersive sound. This is the next generation of players.
  • The difference to conventional Blu-ray players is the resolution offered: conventional players play content in Full HD, also called 2K. A 4K Blu-ray player, on the other hand, plays in 4K quality, with four times as many pixels. 4K players are also compatible with DVDs and older Blu-rays.
  • To enjoy the benefits of this new picture quality, you need the right accessories. It’s important that all your home cinema equipment, such as TVs, players, playback media and AV receivers, are 4K compatible. Otherwise, your screen will remain black.

The Best 4K Blu-Ray Player: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a 4K Blu-ray player

What is a 4K Blu-ray player?

The term 4K is related to the picture quality of videos and screens. The standard Full HD resolution, also called 2K, is 1920×1080 pixels. With 4K Blu-rays, the number of pixels has been quadrupled – to 4096×2160 pixels.

In the following areas, 4K Blu-rays offer enhanced movie enjoyment:

  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) emphasises light/dark contrasts
  • HFR (High Frame Rate) offers clear and smooth scenes
  • Dolby Atmos for surround sound is supported
  • Dolby Vision optimises picture by picture
  • Increased pixel count makes images appear larger and sharper
  • Extended colour spectrum delivers powerful and vivid colours

4K Blu-ray Player-1

4K resolution is establishing itself as the new standard for cinema films. Due to increased demand, this technology is also becoming more affordable for your living room.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Julien Andrieux)

A 4K Blu-ray player is capable of playing back this very high resolution. As a result, you benefit from the improvements mentioned above. Conventional Blu-ray and DVD players are not suitable for this because they cannot read 4K playback media.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a 4K Blu-ray player?

The purchase of a 4K player needs to be carefully considered. To save you from unpleasant surprises, we have selected the most important advantages and disadvantages for this purchase:

Advantages
  • HDR: high-contrast recordings, bright colours
  • clear images, more details
  • support for 3D technology
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos ensure optimal picture and sound quality
  • DVDs and normal Blu-rays can also be played in addition to 4K Blu-rays
Disadvantages
  • High purchase costs
  • Special accessories required
  • 4K Blu-rays can only be played on special 4K Blu-ray players
  • At a sitting distance from the TV of more than three metres, the improvement of 4K is hardly noticeable

Buying a 4K Blu-ray player is worthwhile if you value sharp, detailed images, intense colours and immersive sound quality. If you are put off by the initial cost, there are different price ranges for different preferences.

Which TVs are suitable for a 4K Blu-ray player?

4K media can only be played on TVs that are specifically designed for it. To help you choose the right TV, there are 4K-certified screens.

A suitable TV must be able to handle HDCP 2.2 copy protection, which is designed to protect 4K media from illegal copying. An HDMI 2.0 connection provides the necessary bandwidth for 4K content. Most modern 4K screens have these standards, but some budget offerings do not.

You can use a 4K Blu-ray player with a 1920×1080 pixel TV, but the images will only play in Full HD resolution.

The screen diagonal of your TV should also be at least 50 inches to make 4K resolution worthwhile. If your TV is smaller or you sit far away from the screen, the improvement from Full HD to 4K is hardly noticeable.

What accessories are needed?

In order to enjoy films in 4K resolution, you need the following in addition to a 4K Blu-ray player:

  • TV: As explained in more detail in the previous question, you need a TV that is designed to play 4K content. These screens must meet specific criteria to ensure sound and picture quality. Above all, the copy protection HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 connections are important here.
  • HDMI cables: More information must be processed for sharp pictures and vivid colours. Older HDMI cables can no longer cope with these transmission rates. High-speed HDMI cables were therefore explicitly developed for 4K content. Therefore, make sure that your cables are marked as Highspeed HDMI cables.
  • 4K Blu-ray: Of course, you also need 4K Blu-rays instead of normal Blu-rays or DVDs to achieve the desired result. These are marked as such with “4K Ultra HD”.
  • AV receiver: If you use an audio/video receiver in your home cinema system, it must also support the copy protection HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 connection. However, only newer versions can do this.

How much does a 4K Blu-ray player cost?

There are large price differences between different manufacturers and functionalities. The price range for 4K Blu-ray players goes from about 130 to almost 2000 euros.

Features Price
Basic 4K Blu-ray player €130-150
Additional features €200-2000

You can buy the simplest version in the price range of 130 to 150 euros. However, it does not include a Wi-Fi connection or other apps, for example.

On the other hand, if you want premium quality and advanced features, you will have to pay more. If you are looking for a 4K Blu-ray player with a quiet drive, several apps or Dolby Vision support, you will find one starting at 200 euros. However, there is always room for improvement, up to almost 2000 euros.

What are the alternatives to a 4K Blu-ray player?

If you don’t want to buy a 4K Blu-ray player, but still want to achieve the best possible quality for the content you consume, there are other options:

alternative description
4K streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer 4K movies. All you need is an account with the streaming provider and an internet connection.
4K Upscaling DVDs and Blu-rays with low resolution are upscaled so that they reach almost 4K quality. However, the end result does not look as sharp as original 4K content.
Full HD Blu-ray player Here you have to limit yourself to Full HD DVDs or Blu-rays as playback media, but upscaling gives nicer versions. Note: such a Blu-ray player cannot read 4K files.

For all options, a 4K-compatible screen is necessary, whether as a TV or computer screen, in order to display 4K content correctly or to upscale Full HD content.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate 4K Blu-ray players

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible 4K Blu-ray players.

With the help of the following features, you can compare different players:

The next paragraphs provide more detailed information on the individual criteria.

Picture quality

The reason to buy a 4K Blu-ray player is the desire for exceptionally sharp images. Therefore, you should make sure that your chosen model also supports the necessary formats.

Your TV must also support these features!

HDR optimises the entire film, ensuring strong contrasts and vivid colours. Advanced features like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision calculate the optimum scene by scene.

Premium devices are also able to play 3D content, the most modern ones can also convert 2D media into 3D.

4K upscaling is also a feature that only some 4K Blu-ray players can offer. Here, the player upscales the picture quality of a DVD or Blu-ray to achieve 4K resolution. Although the result is clearer than Full HD, it does not come close to true 4K.

Sound quality

Advanced sound formats such as Dolby True HD and DTS-HD are transmitted to the receiver via HDMI, allowing clear differences between the loudest and quietest movie scenes. You’ll enjoy an immersive listening experience.

Dolby Atmos is a sound technology developed specifically for movie theatres that enables immersive surround sound. This technology is also supported by high-quality 4K Blu-ray players.

Again, orient yourself to your existing equipment. Your 4K Blu-ray player must only be able to play back those sound formats that are supported by your AV receiver in your home cinema equipment.

Apps

4K Blu-ray players often come with pre-installed apps or you can download them later. Streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix allow you to play 4K content directly through the player.

4K Blu-ray Player-2

A 4K Blu-ray player can make it even easier for you to stream your favourite shows in 4K. Netflix produces series like Stranger Things or The Witcher in 4K resolution.
(Image source: unsplash.com / freestocks.org)

But maybe you already own a Smart TV, streaming sticks like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or a console like the Xbox One X, which already provide all 4K streaming services. In these cases, the apps of your 4K Blu-ray player are less important because the streaming services are available on other devices.

The presence of certain 4K streaming services should only influence your purchase decision if the 4K player is your only streaming source.

Playback media

To get the most out of your 4K Blu-ray player, it should be able to play as many other playback media as possible in addition to specific 4K Blu-rays. Otherwise, you will need different devices for different media.

With a 4K Blu-ray player as an all-round talent, you save space and keep an overview.

The majority of 4K Blu-ray players on the market are compatible with Blu-rays, DVDs, CDS and home-burned discs. You should also make sure that the player can read picture, video and audio formats (such as MOV, MP3, MP4, JPEG) from external hard drives or USB sticks when these are docked to the 4K player.

Connections

A 4K Blu-ray player is equipped with a LAN and an HDMI connection. Generally, more expensive models have a higher number of ports, such as multiple HDMI and USB ports or additional optical outputs.

Here you should examine the existing hardware in your home theatre. If your AV receiver is 4K compatible, the 4K player does not need a second HDMI output. However, if your receiver is not designed for 4K or does not have an HDMI port, your player will need an additional optical output. This allows you to connect the receiver and 4K Blu-ray player to play the sound through your home theatre.

USB ports give you more options for connecting and enjoying other media, such as an external hard drive.

An internet connection is generally available with the new 4K Blu-ray players, only the type of connection differs here. The higher price ranges have WLAN, the others work with a LAN cable.

4K Blu-ray Player-3

The advantage of a 4K Blu-ray player with a WLAN connection is that you don’t have to worry about a cable as much, but a LAN connection is more stable.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Marijn Hubert)

Dimensions

Another criterion is your idea of how big and heavy your 4K Blu-ray player should be. The size specifications describe width, height and depth. It is therefore best to measure the space available to you exactly so that you do not experience any unexpected disappointments.

The weight ranges from just under 1 kg to 8 kg, with most players weighing around 2 kg. Heavy and expensive devices are made of aluminium, which makes them more stable. This also dampens drive noise and vibrations. Lower price ranges are made of plastic and are therefore lighter but also less robust.

Interesting facts about 4K Blu-ray players

Is 4K resolution the same as Ultra HD?

In common parlance, the terms “4K” and “Ultra HD/UHD” refer to the same resolution. A true 4K resolution can be found in cinemas and describes 4096×2160 pixels. UHD, on the other hand, has a picture quality of 3840×2160 pixels.

However, since true 4K content is not yet widely available, the term 4K is used in everyday usage to describe all resolutions in the range of 4000 horizontal pixels, hence it includes UHD.

Technically speaking, 4K and UHD are not the same, but you will hardly notice the difference. Both resolutions deliver sharper and more detailed images than conventional Full HD.

Is a 4K Blu-ray player free of region codes?

Regional codes, also known as country codes, prevent content from being played worldwide. 4K Blu-rays are no longer region-coded, which is why they can be watched on 4K Blu-ray players all over the world. However, the players themselves are not free of region codes. Therefore, they cannot play DVDs with the wrong region code.

Is the PlayStation 4 a 4K Blu-ray player?

No, the standard version of the PlayStation 4 cannot play 4K resolution in terms of either games or movies. The PlayStation 4 Pro, however, plays 4K streams in original quality, but cannot play 4K Blu-rays either. Therefore, the PlayStation 4 is not a 4K Blu-ray player.

Is the Xbox One a 4K Blu-ray player?

Yes, both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X can be used as 4K Blu-ray players. These consoles allow you to play Blu-rays in 4K resolution. At the same time, they also allow you to experience video games in 4K.

What films are available in 4K quality?

A distinction is made between films that were shot in 4K (native 4K) and those that were subsequently up-sampled to achieve 4K quality. The following lists contain selected examples, but are not exhaustive.

True 4K:

  • American Hustle
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Dunkirk
  • Joker
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Back to the Future Trilogy

Projected 4K:

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • It (2017) & It Chapter 2
  • I Am Legend
  • Life of Pi
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mamma Mia
  • Wonder Woman

Picture source: Serdyuk/ 123rf.com

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