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Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players you can buy in 2019.

Let's face it, Blu-ray discs provide a whopping improvement to picture and sound quality over standard DVDs.

They include the latest sound technologies (Dolby Digital TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio) and one of the next-gen object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats.

And, of course, a 4K player will play 4K Blu-ray discs in Ultra HD, adding not only extra detail and HDR to your picture (including Dolby Vision and HDR10+), but also object-based surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There are loads of 4K discs to choose from, so the time has never been better to upgrade.

They'll also spin normal Blu-rays, DVDs (remember them?), while some are universal decks which can play more niche audio disc formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio.

The best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players all serve up brilliant picture and sound at their respective price points, and you can find our definitive list of tried and tested products below. And with Black Friday around the corner, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

(Image credit: Panasonic)

1. Panasonic DP-UB820EB

This Award-winning 4K Blu-ray player promises plenty on paper and delivers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, Optical digital, 7.1 multi-channel analogue | Dimensions (hwd): 6.3 x 43 x 20.4cm | Weight: 3.5kg

Reasons to Buy

Vibrant, immersive HDR picture
Punchy, believable colour balance
Powerful and weighty sound

Reasons to Avoid

Could be dynamically subtler
No SACD or DVD-A support

With the DP-UB820EB, Panasonic has taken the video processing tech out of the flagship DP-UB9000 which features further down this list and placed it it in a more affordable package. And the results are sensational. The player serves up a wonderfully inviting and immersive picture, bursting with colour and detail. It also produces a meaty and exciting sound, which compliments the picture perfectly.

All the main flavours of HDR are supported, including HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, which means you can extract the most from 4K content. It's a very good upscaler too, so normal Blu-rays should look the part on your shiny new 4K TV. For the money, you'll struggle to find a better all-round player, which is why it's an extremely worthy 2019 Award-winner.

Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB820EB

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

2. Sony UBP-X700

A fantastic 4K Blu-ray player at an affordable price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, Coaxial digital | Dimensions (hwd): 4.5 x 32 x 21.7cm | Weight: 1.4kg

Reasons to Buy

Crisp, natural-looking picture
Excellent detail and colours
Dolby Vision support

Reasons to Avoid

Sound could be grander
No HDR10+ support

If you want an affordable route into the world of 4K Blu-ray, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great shout. It's one of the most talented 4K players we've seen at this kind of money. It’s a fun, involving performance - pictures are stacked with detail. The Sony displays a wonderfully subtle picture that’s impeccably judged while being hugely entertaining. Sound quality is equally stirring with its zippy, dynamic character complimenting that class-leading picture.

The Sony ticks all the boxes you'd expect a player to at this price, and includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support. Despite not flashing the hi-res audio badge, the X700 can also play up to 24bit/192kHz files in all popular formats, including WAV, FLAC and DSD. There's also smart functionality and twin HDMI outputs. This Sony machine is good enough to boost all manner of home cinema systems, so you can buy with confidence.

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X700

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

3. Panasonic DMP-BDT180EB

This Panasonic Blu-ray deck doesn't do 4K, but is still a brilliant option for the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI | Dimensions (hwd): 4.3 x 31.2 x 18cm | Weight: 1kg

Reasons to Buy

Sharp details
Smooth motion
Dynamic sound

Reasons to Avoid

Doesn't play 4K discs
Small remote
No wi-fi

Making a Blu-ray player for under £100 is no easy feat. Making a good Blu-ray player for under £100 is more difficult, and a great one harder still. But somehow Panasonic has managed it with the DMP-BDT180EB. If you can live without the 4K Blu-ray playback, the Panasonic is perfect for any entry-level home cinema set-up. Detail levels, colour balance and motion handling are all excellent for the money.

It doesn’t hold back when it comes to audio quality either. Its dynamic delivery is exciting to listen to, voices sound clear and the whole presentation is pretty balanced. If you want a solid upgrade on an old DVD spinner, this Panasonic Blu-ray player won't let you down.

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-BDT180EB

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

4. Pioneer UDP-LX500

Pioneer's premium 4K Blu-ray player delivers on all fronts.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, stereo RCA | Dimensions (hwd): 11.8 x 43.5 x 33.9cm | Weight: 10.3kg

Reasons to Buy

Crisp, insightful picture
Natural colours
Dynamic, expressive sound

Reasons to Avoid

Few smart features
Still waiting for HDR10+ update

Some home cinema set-ups demand a player with even more focus than the Sony mentioned above. Where premium build quality and high grade components are par for the course, in an attempt to bring you the best picture and sound possible. The Pioneer UDP-LX500 is such a player.

Feed the player a 4K disc and the picture that greets you is breathtaking. It paints a balanced picture, packed with sensational levels of detail.  And the Pioneer sounds as good as it looks, displaying weight, power and a fine sense of musicality and timing. There's no smart functionality, nor is there a set of multi-channel analogue outputs for legacy AV receivers, but if you've got the budget and a suitable home cinema system to play it through, this 4K Blu-ray player will blow you away.

Read the full review: Pioneer UDP-LX500

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

5. Cambridge Audio CXUHD

A talented all-rounded with excellent picture and sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital | Dimensions (hwd): 8.2 x 43 x 31.2cm | Weight: 5kg

Reasons to Buy

Excellent colour balance
Impressive insight
Great sound quality

Reasons to Avoid

No smart functionality
No HDR10+ support

If your budget can't stretch all the way to the Pioneer mentioned above, then the Cambridge CXUHD is a great shout. Like the Pioneer, its feature count isn't the most extensive (connections are limited to a couple of HDMIs and digital audio outputs) and there's little in the way of smart functionality, but in terms of all-round ability, there's a heck of a lot to like.

The CXUHD produces a realistic picture and does a great job handling dark and light scenes. There's loads of detail to lap up, whether you're watching a 4K or standard Blu-ray. It's sonically gifted too, displaying transparency and musicality when playing movie soundtracks and CDs. There's a sense of refinement here that budget players simply can't match.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXUHD

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

(Image credit: Future)

6. Sony UBP-X1100ES

A hugely capable 4K Blu-ray player, not without its quirks.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, analogue | Dimensions (hwd): 5.4 x 43 x 26.5cm | Weight: 3.9kg

Reasons to Buy

Crisp, clean 4K picture
Entertaining, immersive sound
Universal disc support

Reasons to Avoid

No HDR10+
Strange handling of Dolby Vision
Lacks a premium finish

There's no shortage of excellent 4K Blu-ray players to choose from at the premium end of the market, and you can now add the UBP-X1100ES to the list. Like the Cambridge above, it's a universal deck which means it can handle all manner of disc formats, including 3D Blu-ray, SACD and DVD-Audio. It supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, but there's no support for HDR10+, which is a little disappointing.

Its picture is anything but, though. The Sony serves up a balanced, natural and nuanced image, which displays great depth and an impressive amount of detail. It's a musical player too, with excellent timing and a fine sense of rhythm with music and movies alike.

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X1100ES

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players 2019: budget and premium

7. Panasonic DP-UB9000

A seriously capable machine for home cinema enthusiasts.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, 7.1 multi-channel analogue, RCA Phono, XLR | Dimensions (hwd): 8.1 x 43 x 30cm | Weight: 7.8kg

Reasons to Buy

Crisp, insightful picture
Dynamic expressive sound
Good selection of features

Reasons to Avoid

Very little at this price

The DP-UB9000 is another player to throw into the mix if you're in the market for a premium machine. Nestled between the Pioneer and Cambridge in this list, the Panasonic is a feature-packed option with excellent picture and sound quality.

It's menu system is a little overcomplicated, but once you've got the Panasonic set up for your particular display, it serves up an entertaining and attention-grabbing image, bursting with colour. There's a great sense of depth and realism to 4K images that makes you sit up and take notice. Soundtracks are delivered with plenty of weight and power, which is just want you want from a premium player like this. The Pioneer just about pips it for outright musical ability, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is still well worth auditioning.

Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB9000

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