So, you’ve got a new 4K TV and are ready to settle in for a movie night. But if you’re still using a conventional Blu-ray player, you’ll notice that while the image looks considerably better, it also looks a bit flat.
4K UHD Blu-ray players not only open up the world of Ultra High Definition, with a steadily growing range of classic and new release films and TV shows available in 4K, they also upscale your Blu-rays and DVDs to look top notch.
In fact, upscaled Blu-ray discs can look almost as good as a native 4K image (sans the HDR grading), especially if the film has been transferred from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. And DVDs scrub up nicely, too, looking a lot more vibrant and detailed than you’d expect from an SD source.
Thanks to the higher resolution and HDR, movies in native 4K look better than you’ve ever seen them before at home. The litmus test is checking out an all-time favourite film that you know intimately – we guarantee you’ll notice things you’ve never noticed before.
Of course, getting a stunning picture depends on the type of 4K player and its functionality. We’ve selected two that deliver the image upgrade and features that you really need:
Sony UBP-X700 Compact 4K UHD Blu-ray Player
If you’re on a budget but still want a 4K player with all the key features, Sony has got you covered with the affordable X700. This compact unit supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, has good 4K upscaling, and is compatible with most high definition video and audio formats. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity for 4K video streaming, dual HDMI outputs, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. A great, basic player that does everything you need it to do.
Panasonic DP-UB820 4K UHD Blu-ray Player
One of Panasonic’s premium 4K players, the UB820 is a great investment if you’re serious about movies. There’s multi HDR support (including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), Panasonic’s proprietary HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) processor to deliver precise colours and HDR reproduction every time, and 4K High Precision Chroma Processing tech to up-convert Full HD content to 4K. It really does look as good as it sounds! And speaking of sounds, audiophiles are catered for with High Clarity Sound and a 7.1 channel analogue audio input for like-like surround. The player also connects wirelessly to the internet, so you can enjoy a variety of streaming content in 4K, and there’s voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. We also like the old school inclusion of a time display counter on the front of the unit, which can be dimmed or switched off if it becomes distracting.
Fetch TV consolidates free-to-air channels, streaming services, movie rentals and purchases, catch-up apps and more into one convenient, central entertainment hub. The Wi-Fi enabled Fetch TV box is available in three types:
The Fetch Mighty is perfect for the dedicated binge-watcher. It has a Quad Tuner PVR with a 1TB HDD and can record up to 585 hours of SD content, and six channels simultaneously. A Series Tag option sets automatic recording of episodes from your selected show(s) and then files them in an easy-access folder. There’s also 4K streaming support and the ability to pause and rewind live TV.
If recording isn’t a priority, the more affordable Fetch Mini offers a single tuner with 7-day EPG, TV and movie store, limited streaming apps, and free-to-air catch-up channels. And the next-gen Fetch Mini 4K improves on its predecessor with a Bluetooth voice remote control, faster response time, and most importantly, streams content in 4K (where available).
Simply plug the antenna cable into your Fetch box, connect to the internet, and go fetch your desired shows and movies. There’s also multi-room support, enabling you to connect up to three boxes.
Want to show off your 4K set-up? These four discs best showcase the format in all its visual glory…
Blue Planet II
This BBC documentary is one of the best go-to discs when showing off 4K’s capabilities. The true 4K vision is astonishing in its clarity, turning the TV into a flat aquarium.
A stunning native 4K transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ enhances this ‘one-shot’ war drama’s Oscar-winning cinematography, delivering an even more immersive experience.
HDR10+ reveals the incredible detail in the Nostromo sets, every glistening drop of blood on the chestburster, and adds remarkable depth to those darkened spacecraft corridors.
Just when you thought it was safe to watch a 4K disc, HDR10+ brings Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece to even more vivid life, especially the underwater scenes.