Many will proclaim that optical media is dead and that streaming is the way ahead, but one look at the quality of the latest blockbuster movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray and you'll change your mind.

Ultra HD Blu-ray is a new thing for 2016. The format has been standardised, discs and players are available, so it's full steam ahead as we cast those aging DVD players aside, retire the venerable Blu-ray player and step into the future. 

As Ultra HD Blu-ray is so new, the selection of players is fewer. But that doesn't mean you'll have an easy choice: there's still plenty to consider.


Panasonic's pitch with the UB900 is to give you the best of everything: this is an accomplished player that goes beyond all others in offering you connectivity and granular options to control your content. Packaged into a slick box offering a substantial design, Panasonic want the UB900 to appeal as much to audio fans as it does to video. Not only does it offer exemplary audio and video performance, the UB900 comes fully loaded with 4K steaming services too, from Netflix and Amazon.

The user interface could be a little more refined, but there's a substantial remote to help keep you in control. This all comes at a price, however, with the Panasonic DMP-UB900 asking £599. 

FULL REVIEW: Panasonic DMP-UB900 review


It wouldn't be fair to call the Samsung K8500 the "no frills" player, but it's certainly simpler than the Panasonic rival, with fewer options and fewer connections. For those looking for that simpler approach, that makes it a winner, as the K8500 just concentrates on delivering stunning visuals from your Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. For many, that's exactly the point. There's plenty of streaming goodness, however, offering Netflix and Amazon in 4K HDR. 

What's less impressive, however, is the quirky curved design. That might work if you're placing it near a curved television, but for many it's an oddity when placed among your other AV boxes. The remote is also small and rather unsubstantial. But we can accept that for the £429 asking price.

FULL REVIEW: Samsung UBD-K8500 review

Pocket-lintXbox One S-3

When Microsoft launched the Xbox One, it was pitched as an entertainment centre. That may have got gamer's hackles up, but with the Xbox One S now offering Ultra HD Blu-ray playback, as well as supporting 4K streaming services, it's a media centre with skills that are hard to rival: being able to play the latest HDR games is just one string to its bow. 

The Xbox is a physically bigger box than a conventional player and unless you have the Xbox One Media Remote you'll be using a gaming controller, so things aren't quite as slick as a dedicated player, but then they aren't as expensive either. In fact, for those who aren't hardcore AV enthusiasts, the Xbox One S is a tempting all-round entertainment solution, especially as support for Xbox 360 games is now extensive too. Just wait for the 500GB version to go on sale for £249.

FULL REVIEW: Xbox One S review


Sony's is officially supporting 4K in a physical format, with the introduction of the UBP-X1000ES. It's Sony's first Blu-ray player capable of Ultra HD Blu-ray playback. It not only brings support for full 4K support but also HDR, though we don't know if it's using HDR10 or Dolby Vision.

The X1000ES also supports standard Blu-ray content, CDs, DVDs, and it can upscale 1080p content to 4K 60p resolution. Sony hasn't yet announced pricing, but the X1000ES is part of Sony’s ES series, so consider this a high-end option. It'll likely be expensive. If you want something more affordable that does both 4K and HDR, you should check out the company's PS4 Pro.

Unfortunately, it's not an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. 

The X1000ES is expected to ship next spring.

READ MORE: This is Sony's first Ultra HD Blu-ray player with 4K and HDR support