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4K Blu-Ray Buyers Guide

4K Blu-Ray Buyers Guide featured imageI still remember the day when the latest rage was VCR’s. Video technology has came a long ways since that time. With the invention of 4K Blu-ray technology, you can have all the quality of a movie theater right in your home. But where do you start? What do you need to look for when setting up a home theater system or just a really high quality home entertainment system. That is where this 4k Blu-ray buyers guide comes in.

With the prices of these 4K Blu-ray players coming way down in price. There is no reason you cannot get one for your home. Even if you love to stream videos from Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, many of these players come with that ability making them an all-in-one video entertainment player.

An Ultra HD Blu-ray player coupled with a TV that is capable of reproducing a UHD picture just can’t be beat. They can greatly enhance contrast and provide spectacular highlights, such as the glint of sunlight off a metallic object or the stunning color of a beautiful sunset.

And as an added bonus. You can still play all of your old DVD’s and some Blu-ray players will even enhance them to bring them up to 4K.

Types Of Blu-ray Players

Now before we get started in the buyers guide, we should probably go over the differences between a standard Blu-ray player and a 4k Blu-ray player.

Standard Blu-ray Player

If you have a HDTV then we recommend you save your self a little money and get yourself a standard Blu-ray player. However don’t be afraid to spend a little more compared to a DVD player. You will definitely notice the difference between the two. Especially if your TV is a 1080p model.

Now there are some models of Blu-ray players that have a feature called upscaling that will convert the signal into a 4K signal, if you do have a 4K TV but in all honesty, so does your 4K TV. It is a simulation, not the real thing. So if you really are on a tight budget, a standard Blu-ray player might be the way to go. But honestly, with 4K models now getting under $100.00 that choice doesn’t make a lot of sense.

4K Blu-ray Players

Image of a home theater systemAn Ultra HD 4k Blu-ray player is the way to go if you own a 4K TV or plan on purchasing one in the near future. The picture quality just can’t be beat. These new 4K players offer the best picture quality you can get  on the market today, with (3840×2160) resolution—four times that of a standard Blu-ray player.

In addition these new players have HDR (High Dynamic Range) capability giving you greater contrast between bright and darker images. Like standard Blu-ray players, these players also offer the ability to connect to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu but with the added capability of being able to handle 4K streaming video. Some of them even handle Dolby Vision.

Longer movies will fit on 4K Blu-ray discs. The 4K Blu-ray discs can store up to 66GB of data on dual-layer discs and store 100GB on triple-layer discs. That is almost twice the storage of standard Blu-ray discs.

4K Blu-Ray Buyers Guide – Determining Your Ultimate Player

Image of a 4k tv in a living roomAs a result of the introduction of 4K TV’s in 2012 the need for players that would utilize this higher quality TV was born. First, Blu-ray players came out with a 4K upscaling feature that simulated 4K video. However that was not enough. It looked good but for some people, not quite good enough.

In 2016 a new type of Blu-ray disc hit the market. The Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. It looks like a normal Blu-ray disc but it uses the true 4K video encoding and adds HDR enhancements to make use of all of the features of a 4K TV.

That is where the 4K Blu-ray player comes in. With the new type of enhanced Blu-ray disc, it needed a new player. However don’t worry. They were smart enough to make sure that this new player would in fact play, all of your old Blu-ray discs and DVD’s.

4K Blu-ray vs, 4K Streaming

Video streaming is an awesome technology. I personally have switched from Cable TV to streaming only. However video streaming has a few drawbacks.

  1. You need a lot of bandwidth to stream 4K. Many internet providers put a limitation on the amount of data you can use every month. 4K streaming will eat into your data budget tremendously.
  2. Streaming videos can stutter and stop at times. You internet provider can claim that they have a certain amount of bandwidth available for you but my experience has been that even with the highest amounts, a 4K stream can still get glitchy at times.
  3. You are at the mercy of your internet provider when it comes to up time. How many times have you been watching a show and your internet goes down or your modem reboots? It can be really annoying if you are in the juicy part of a movie.
  4. You get better picture quality with a Blu-ray disc. Remember that streaming video is compressed to go over the internet. It is not the same as true 4K video encoding on a Blu-ray disc. There is a marked difference in the video quality of a streamed movie vs. a disc.

Blu-ray Brands

There are scads of Blu-ray manufacturers out there. Not all of them are created equal. At Taber’s Best Reviews we only recommend the top manufacturers. Here is a list of the manufacturers we recommend.

  • Sony
  • Samsung
  • Yamaha
  • Phillips
  • LG

Important Features To Consider In Your Blu-Ray Player

Making sure you get the features you need in your 4K Blu-ray player will help insure lasting enjoyment of your player for years to come. Here are some of the most important features you need to pay attention to.

  1. What type of analog audio encoding does it support? There are many different types of audio files being used in the market today. The best example is MP3 files. Everybody knows what an MP3 is. It uses an encoding process that is considered lossy. That means that there is a lot of the audio signal that is stripped away. Commonly used lossy audio clip formats are WMA, OGG, M4A and MP3 etc. There are a few lossless encoding formats. They are FLAC and APE also known as Monkey audio, etc Make sure your new 4K Blu-ray player supports the type of audio you use on a regular basis.
  2. What type of connections does it support? Let’s say for instance you want to hook up your 4K player to a projector rather than a 4K TV. That means you will need to have connections that will go both to the projector and to your sound bar or surround sound system. Does it have the proper connections. It may need an HDMI Audio output as well as a Combined HDMI output. Or it will need other audio outputs to accomplish this.
  3. Internet Connectivity. Does your 4K player connect to the internet via wifi or does it need a Cat-5 ethernet cable? Does it support streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu?
  4. USB Ports and SD Cards. Many players let you hook up your computer or a flash drive to them in order to play video files directly from the device. Many people use this to play their digital video camera footage or slide shows from the shots they took with their digital camera.
  5. Dolby Surround Sound. Does your player have Dolby capability? In order to have Dolby surround sound, you need an encoder. Your options are to either make sure it is in you 4K Blu-ray player, in your surround sound system, or to buy a separate decoder box to run the audio files through first.
  6. Picture Controls. Many 4K Blu-ray players come with some unique picture control features. You can control the aspect ratio. You can choose between the box size of 4×3 or the wide-screen size of 16×9. Some will even let you zoom in on a frame and if you are using the right disc, some will let you change the angle you are viewing the screen from.
  7. 3D Capability. Are you a 3D movie buff? Do you have your own set of 3D glasses? If so, then some machines have the capability of showing 3D movies. If you like the action to stand right out, this is an important feature for you.
  8. Gaming. Some 4K Blue-Ray players come with gaming consoles as well. In fact it can be cheaper to buy a 4k Blu-ray player with a gaming module than it is to buy the gaming console itself.
  9. Does it have an easy to use remote control? Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to figure out how to use a remote control. Does it have simple buttons for the controls? Will it sync with your TV? Are the buttons backlit so you can see them in a dark room Remote controls are normally looked over in the buying process. Make sure you take a look at this little feature that can be so important to your overall satisfaction.

Final Considerations In Buying A 4K Blu-ray Player

image of a home theater video entertainment centerToday you can buy a great 4K Blu-ray player for under $200.00. In fact, there are some at the $100.00 price mark. These will work great for great looking entertainment center in your home. If you are looking for something for a home theater, then we suggest you stay above the $150.00 mark. You do get what you pay for.

Well I hope that after reading this 4K Blu-ray buyers guide you now feel empowered with the information you needed to make a quality decision about your 4k Blu-ray player. If you are ready to start shopping, You might want to read our list of the best 4k Blu-ray players we recommend for our readers.

Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful websites and is now taking his skill as a writer and using it to help non-profit organizations and leaders around the world.