7 Blu-ray Players for Your 4K Home Theater
There's no actual disc format, but these seven players should be able to bring you as close to a 4K experience as possible.
August 01, 2014 by Rachel Cericola

This year, we’ve been talking a lot about Ultra HD (4K) TV. If you’re still sort of confused, you may want to read Grant Clauser’s “Almost Everything You Need to Know About Ultra HD 4K TVs” before you go any further. However, if you’re already a proud 4K TV owner or about to be one, it’s time to accessorize.

You’re absolutely going to need a 4K-capable receiver if you want to pass a 4K source through your receiver before it hits the TV. Luckily, there are a lot of those on the market already. A 4K-capable Blu-ray player is probably not something you’re thinking about—but you should be.

Before we continue, let’s get this out of the way: There is no such thing as a 4K Blu-ray disc. At least, there’s no such thing now.

Maybe you saw Sony’s “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray releases last year. These are not 4K Blu-rays. According to Sony, each of the titles were “sourced from pristine 4K masters and presented at high-bitrate 1080p resolution.” So, it’s basically a Blu-ray. However, when paired with one of Sony’s 4K TVs (or any 4K TV, for that matter), the image promises to be near-4K, without any other special equipment. 

Just know that 4K Blu-rays are something that’s in the works. That doesn’t do you a lot of good right now, though.

What does do some good is a Blu-ray player that can upscale to 4K. That means that the player has processing power inside that can take full HD and SD content and tweak it to look very close to the type of quality you’d expect from a 4K viewing experience. Several of the TVs have 4K upscaling inside, so maybe you don’t need a player. As Clauser says, “Some players will do the job better than the TV, and you just don’t know until you try.”

Thankfully, all of the current 4K-capable players out there work with standard HDTVs and are very similar to other Blu-ray players, offering playback of Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs, as well as smart TV features. Many also throw in 3D effects (all 4K TVs are 3D TVs, of course), others add in SACD and DVD-A, and some even have high-resolution audio DACs. That 4K processing power is key, though—and needs to be paired with a 4K TV to be noticeable.

You probably already have a Blu-ray player, and if it’s a new one, it may have upscaling features. If not, take a peek at our slideshow of 7 Blu-ray Players for Your 4K Home Theater.

Also Check Out:
Almost Everything You Need to Know About Ultra HD 4K TVs
LG to Start Selling 105-inch 21:9 Curved Ultra HD TV
10 Top Home Theater Receivers for Under $1,000

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

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Comments (5) Most recent displayed first.
Posted by marcuslaw  on  08/13/14  at  11:30 AM

Most of these seem to be quite capable machines.  However, I’m content to wait until the new BD 4K spec is announced.  What if it is not backward compatible with current players?  Sure, 4K upscaling is nice, but most of the 4K sets I’ve read about already upscale.

Posted by LTskier  on  08/05/14  at  05:18 PM

“Many also throw in 3D effects (all 4K TVs are 3D TVs, of course)”.  Not a safe assumption:
Vizio announces its first consumer 4K TVs, kills all 3D support

Posted by Neil Hunt  on  08/05/14  at  11:38 AM

Why is it better to upscale in a blu-ray player than simply let the 4k TV upscale?

Reasons the 4k TV upscaler is probably better:
* You spent a lot more money on the TV than the BDP, so there is a good possibility that it has a good upscaler.
* Today, almost all content rendered on a 4k TV will be upscaled, since so little is available in 4k, which means that perceived quality of the new expensive TV will primarily depend on the quality of its 4k upscaler.
* A potential BD upscaler isn’t new enough compared to your 4k TV to have the opportunity to use newer technology not available at the time the TV was designed.
* The connection from BD to 4k TV would have to be via new HDMI 2.2, barely ink dry on the standards, and if any component along that path (e.g. your HDMI switching receiver) is not upgraded to 4k capability, you won’t get BD upscaling (which might be a good thing, since the TV will probably do it better).

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  08/05/14  at  08:07 AM

Hi Kevin,
That’s going to depend a lot on the player itself and the projector. There are only a couple true 4K home theater projectors aimed at the average home theater buyer (the 2 Sonys) plus the JVC eShift projectors which accept 4K and a few very elite projectors well over $100K market.

When you’re dealing with custom projection-based system, the whole digital chain is implicated in the picture quality.


Posted by Kevin  on  08/04/14  at  09:22 PM

Wondering will a 4k upscaling blue ray player improve the image through a projector? And if so would it be a significant improvement? Thanks

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