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 2022.
Streaming services are fantastic but the standard of content you view can vary considerably depending on everything from your TV operating system to your broadband connection. If getting the best picture and sound quality is important to you then there is no substitute for playback from a disc and one of the very best 4K Blu-ray players around.
How to choose the right Blu-ray player for you
As filming technology advances with increasingly impressive stunts, sets, and graphics, filmed at ever-higher resolutions and frame rates, 4K Blu-rays really let you appreciate the artistry of today's filmmakers with sharp details, seamless motion and rich colours.
4K Blu-ray players not only enhance your viewing experience, they can also support lossless object-based surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. But you'll need to partner it with either a compatible sound system and AVR or a soundbar capable of outputting immersive audio.
4K players are backwards compatible so you can play normal Blu-rays and DVDs without issue, though if this is something you're likely to do frequently pay close attention to a model's upscaling abilities. Some 4K players are also universal decks that can play more niche audio disc formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio.
Almost all players have Ethernet ports for a wired network connection and some even have wireless and USB ports that you can use to access an external hard drive. Expect to find HDMI outputs as standard on modern players and, for flexibility, many Blu-ray players have an additional audio-only output.
Our pick of the best 4K Blu-ray players all serve up brilliant pictures and sound at their respective price points, but they all offer great versatility and an excellent complement to streaming.
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 complements 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 machine, which is why we've placed this What Hi-Fi? Award-winner at the top of our list of the best Blu-ray players.
Read the full Panasonic DP-UB820EB review
If you want an affordable route into the world of 4K Blu-ray players, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great option. 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 complementing that class-leading picture.
The Sony ticks most of the boxes you'd expect a player to at this price, and includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support but no HDR10+.
Despite not flashing the hi-res audio badge, the X700 can also play up to 24bit/192kHz files and supports a number of 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 Sony UBP-X700 review
This Panasonic 4K player represents great value for money. Feature-wise, it's a little sparse, but it's the performance that matters, and on that front it delivers. It can provide 7.1 surround sound (using a supported system), and the audio is nicely detailed, with an impressive sense of scale. There's a lot to admire when it comes to picture quality too - dark details are easily strong enough, while it handles 4K upscaling with aplomb. A great budget buy.
Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB150EB
This mid-range Sony is a bit more capable – and a bit more expensive – than those at the budget end of the market. While it lacks a display on the player itself, its feature set more than makes up for it. It even has Bluetooth, for streaming audio to a pair of wireless headphones – a godsend for late-night viewing.
There's no HDR10+ support, but otherwise it's a very versatile player, playing nice with such niche audio formats as DVD-Audio and SACD. You have to manually enable Dolby Vision for supported content, which is a bit annoying (it should just happen automatically), but this player's superb performance still makes it easy to recommend.
Read the full Sony UBP-X800M2 review
There's no shortage of excellent 4K Blu-ray players to choose from at the premium end of the market, and the UBP-X1100ES also deserves to be on the list. 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 Sony UBP-X1100ES review
There are some great budget 4K Blu-ray players in this list, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is the one to audition if you're in the market for a premium machine.
Its 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 what you want from a premium player like this. It has been bettered for outright musical ability, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is still well worth auditioning.
Read the full Panasonic DP-UB9000 review
How we test 4K Blu-ray players
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years of experience in reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with a Blu-ray player, trying different screens, with different types of content.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers as well as consumers.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.