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Ultra HD (4K) Blu-ray discs and players: Everything you need to know

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We have already written extensively about what a 4K Ultra HD TV is , but the most important questions that we now have to answer relate to the content. How can we enjoy this higher resolution? With the arrival of 4K (Ultra HD) Blu-ray discs and streaming services that stream in 4K, there is now a rapidly growing range.

4K Ultra HD content

If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, also called UHD TV, then you have access to a large number of pixels with which you can display a razor-sharp image. The range of 4K content has been growing rapidly since 2016. You can watch 4K content via a few streaming services, including Netflix, and this offering is expected to continue to grow. A large number of 4K videos can already be found on YouTube.

Not only streaming services, which require an internet connection, offer 4K content. Various satellite providers have already indicated that they are fully committed to this high resolution and since 2016 the first official 4K Ultra HD channels via satellite have been a fact. For the time being, no 4K content is being offered via your digital TV decoder, for example from UPC or Ziggo. It is expected that this will take a few more years.

Ultra HD Blu-ray movies and players

Although we watch more and more through streaming and the video on demand offer is also growing, many of us still like to have a collection of films and series physically on disk. The arrival of Blu-ray discs with 4K material is therefore something that many have considered, not least because these discs do not make you dependent on the quality of a stream and immediately offer the highest possible audio quality. Fortunately, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have been a fact since the beginning of 2016.

The Blu-Ray Disc Association indicated in September 2014  that a standard for Ultra HD Blu-ray is being worked hard, so that we can also buy discs with high-resolution content in the store. The standard, which includes an average bitrate of 50 or 60Mbit / s and a wider color palette, has also been finalized since the end of 2015, making Ultra HD Blu-ray a fact.

Since the beginning of 2016, we have seen the first Ultra HD Blu-ray discs (films) appear in the shops and the first hardware is also in the shops. Panasonic and Samsung were the first manufacturers with an Ultra HD Blu-ray player with the DMP-UB900 , DMP-UB700  and UBD-K8500 respectively . At the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, Oppo, LG and sony also announced their first models. The Oppo UDP-203 was also named by us in 2017to the best Ultra HD Blu-ray player of the moment. All these players can read the Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, support 4K Ultra HD playback, can display HDR material and have support for a larger color gamut. Prices are currently between 300 and 1,000 euros. Please note; only Ultra HD Blu-ray players can play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. However, these models are compatible with previous discs, so you can also play standard Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs with the latest players.

Ultra HD (4K) Blu-ray

Ultra HD Blu-ray discs can be recognized by the black covers, whereas normal Blu-ray discs had a blue cover. We also see the Ultra HD logo on it. In addition to the high 4K Ultra HD resolution, most Ultra HD Blu-ray films have HDR ( high dynamic range ) display and a larger color range (rec . 2020) . These elements together should provide a much better viewing experience. The Ultra HD Blu-ray films cost between 20 and 35 euros each. The offer is not that large yet, but all major film studios have announced that they will (also) release the latest films on Ultra HD Blu-ray and various old titles are being re-released in this format.

Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are also provided with Digital Bridge, a function that allows buyers of the disc to receive a high-quality digital copy that can be played on all kinds of devices. Read more about Digital Bridge .

More than a higher resolution

Ultra HD, however, is only part of the TV revolution we’ve seen since 2015. More and more TVs have support for HDR ( high dynamic range ) and a larger color range (rec . 2020) . These additions increase the contrast, we get deep black and intensely clear white in one image and more colors are displayed more accurately. These two elements together with Ultra HD provide a much better viewing experience. In most cases, the latest Ultra HD Blu-ray discs contain content in 4K resolution, with HDR playback and with a larger color range. Combine this with a compatible TV and Blu-ray player and you have the ultimate viewing experience.