Sony broke the hearts of gamers and cinephiles across the globe when it failed to include a 4K Blu-ray player in the new $400 PlayStation 4 Pro, but the company behind the Blu-ray format isn’t forgetting about 4K TV owners. At the CEDIA expo in Dallas, Sony announced its first-ever 4K Blu-ray player, the UBP-X1000ES.
Beyond that ultra-high resolution, the UBP-X1000ES supports high-dynamic range video, and it can upscale 1080p video to “near 4K 60p resolution” using onboard video processing. The player supports a variety of codecs for streaming videos, DVDs, CDs, SA-CD, Blu-ray 3D, and BD-ROM data discs. The UBP-X1000ES also packs a 32-bit digital-to-analog converter for high-fidelity audio, and you’ll also find a wide range of connectivity options able to hook the box into home control solutions and custom home theater installations.
Sony says its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player will debut next spring. The price? No word—but don’t expect it to be cheap, for a couple of reasons. First, Sony’s unabashedly marketing this towards custom AV installers, and anything that involves custom installers costs an arm and a leg. Second, the other two 4K Blu-ray players currently available—the Samsung UBD-K8500 ($318 at Amazon) and Panasonic DMP-UB900 ($700 at Best Buy)—also cost an arm and a leg.
No wonder Sony failed to stuff the PS4 Pro with Ultra HD Blu-ray support. So are you doomed to spend an arm and a leg to watch movies in gorgeous 4K resolution on your fancy 4K TV? Not so fast.
The story behind the story: You can already get an affordable 4K Blu-ray player today, as there’s one lurking inside Microsoft’s new Xbox One S ($300 and up on Amazon). Sure, $300 isn’t exactly thrifty, but you’re getting a full-blown game console with HDR support and the ability to play Ultra HD Blu-rays for that price. Ironically enough, the Xbox One S could wind up becoming 4K Blu-ray’s champion, much like how the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 helped usher in the age of DVDs and Blu-rays, respectively.