4K Blu-ray players are making a comeback but there’s still not many that can challenge the Xbox One S when it comes to pure value for money.
Instead, dedicated deck manufacturers are choosing to market their products on image and audio quality and extra features in an attempt to persuade home cinema fans to part with their cash.
Enter Sony’s latest player – the UBP-X800 – with which Sony is taking a similar approach. It isn’t as cheap as an Xbox One S, but it offers many more features, plus superior image quality.
Sony UBP-X800 review: Introduction
Essentially, the Sony UBP-X800 is an excellent 4K HDR Blu-ray player that ticks all the right boxes. It has sensational video quality, an easy-to-use interface, a quiet disk loader and a sleek design.
It might not be as cheap as the Xbox One S, nor have the same Ultra HD upsampling capabilities as the Oppo UDP-203, but the Sony UBP-X800 is the only dedicated 4K Blu-ray player that deserves to be considered.
Price and competition
The Sony UBP-X800 costs £316 from Amazon. A cheaper option is the Samsung UBD-M9500 at around £300. There’s also the impressive Panasonic DMP-UB900EBK at around £369 and the low cost Samsung BDK8500 at around £185.
Features, design and build quality
The player looks great alongside an AV-receiver. Its all-black aluminium chassis and glass contours really look the part. Strangely, there’s no LED display, which I would of expected to see, but it is to a clean, uncluttered look.
At the rear is an HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2-enabled video output for all your 4K content plus an HDMI 1.4 audio-only output for devices with single HDMI inputs. You get one coax S/PDIF digital output, plus an Ethernet port and a USB input for media playback at the front beneath the X800’s physical eject and power buttons. Another ommission is that, there’s no optical output.
There’s also wireless connectivity, and on this front the UBP-X800 has dual-band Wi-Fi for internet connectivity and multiroom streaming via compatible Sony audio products. There’s also Bluetooth transmission for streaming audio directly to wireless speakers and headphones. Another interesting aspect of the latter is that it supports not only the regular SBC Bluetooth codec but also Sony’s own LDAC system, which is capable of sending out a much higher quality audio stream. You’ll need compatible headphones or speakers to decode LDAC over Bluetooth, to take advantage of it.
As you would expect, the X800 supports a wide array of audio and video formats. There’s bitstream output for passing both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks to compatible equipment and, speaking of audio, the UBP-X800 also supports 24-bit audio from AAC and WAV all the way up to DSD 11.2MHz file formats making it a real treat for audio lovers.
There’s also support for HDR10 here but it does lack of Dolby Visions.
The remote control is excellent: a lesson in simplicity. The buttons are small, yet easily located and responsive and there’s a sensible selection of controls. I do like the Netflix button that launches the in-built app and the Net Service button that delivers quick access to your most recently used app.
User interface and built-in apps
Sonys sensible straightforward approach extends to the UBP-X800’s user interface. It’s simple to operate and responsive, yet provides all the advanced options you need through a set of easy to understand menus.
The choice of built-in apps are impressive, too. There’s a flurry of pre-installed stuff here, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, which all support 4K streaming, plus BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and Spotify, and you can add more through Sony’s available apps, such as Pandora and, Hulu.
Performance and image quality
Comparing the 4K Blu-ray directly with the office Xbox One S is that’s the best way to get a 4K Blu-ray for a reasonable amount of money, and on this front, the Sony UBP-X800 impresses. Both its audio and video quality are superior and a joy to experience.
First, I use The Revenant to assess a player’s capabilities in dealing with excellent cinematography. In the first few action scenes, the Sony player has superb motion processing capabilities – when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is running through the flooded forest – the Sony keeps up in excellent fashion which remains smooth with no stuttering whatsoever as the camera pans across the scene.
Pop Star Trek Beyond into the disk tray, and colours are full of life, vibrant and popping throughout various scenes. Again, the UBP-X800 is able to keep up with fast-paced action scenes and it showcases the film in remarkably.
I found the Sony UBP-X800’s transport mechanism is stealth like. There’s almost no sound from the disc spinning inside, even for 4K movies, are seriously impressive. I’d go as far as saying that it’s better than the Oppo UDP-203 in this respect and it’s far quicker than the Xbox One S.
It might not be as cheap as the Xbox One S, nor as capable the Oppo UDP-203 in its upscaling capabilities but, that aside, the £315 asking price of the Sony UBP-X800 makes it a very attractive options.
4K Blu-ray players don't differ that much when it comes to image quality compared with an Xbox One S, but if getting the very best video out of your expensive 4K TV. It is a truly impressive home cinema experience, and the Sony UBP-X800 is that little bit better in terms of quality and design.