Devoted 4K Blu-ray participant vs Xbox One
So at this stage you is perhaps satisfied about shopping for a 4K Blu-ray participant, and are likely leaning in direction of an Xbox One which provides 4K Blu-ray playback. Whereas the Xbox One is an efficient entry level for players seeking to dip their toes with 4K Blu-rays, it does include some important caveats.
Firstly, whereas Xbox One’s Netflix app helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient output, its 4K Blu-ray participant doesn’t. Dolby Imaginative and prescient, with its capability to optimise the image on a frame-by-frame foundation, supplies a way more engaging and nuanced image than HDR. Barring Samsung, all the main tv producers assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient and there’s a rising library of 4K Blu-rays supporting the format.
The dearth of a second HDMI-out port for audio on the Xbox One can also be a difficulty for these with an older receiver or soundbar that may’t move by means of 4K video with HDR. Devoted Blu-ray gamers include two HDMI outputs; one for sending the video to the TV and the second output for sending audio to your receiver. With the Xbox One’s single HDMI-out, you miss out on the excessive decision audio choices like Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, except you improve your receiver or soundbar as properly.
A devoted Blu-ray participant will usually be quieter and boot discs quicker as properly.
One of the best of the bunch
There are two key the explanation why Panasonic’s UB9000 is the 4K Blu-ray participant to beat.
For one, the UB9000 is the primary 4K Blu-ray participant in the marketplace to assist all 4 HDR codecs together with HDR, HDR10+, HLG (HDR format of selection for broadcast media) and Dolby Imaginative and prescient.
Its killer characteristic, nevertheless, is Panasonic’s ‘HDR Optimiser’ which because the title suggests tone maps HDR content material to match the capabilities of your show. Now that is one thing that 4K HDR televisions already do themselves however most of them, significantly those with restricted brightness which is widespread in entry stage to mid-range fashions, usually battle to tone map HDR content material appropriately. This leads to clipping or a loss in color saturation.
I examined the UB9000 with my 75-inch Sony Bravia 900E; a mid-range LED tv with full-array native dimming. Whereas it is an ideal TV that may get pretty vivid, HDR is not precisely one among its sturdy factors, however that is the place the UB9000’s HDR Optimiser characteristic made an evening and day distinction.
Selecting content material that has been mastered at 4000 nits of peak brightness is an efficient technique to check the HDR chops of any participant or tv. Cue the opening scene in Sully the place the aircraft plows into buildings in downtown New York, creating an explosion that fills the display. With the HDR Optimiser off, the explosion is vivid however the highlights are blown out. Turning on HDR Optimiser, the completely different shades of the fireball turn into clearly outlined whereas additionally making elements of the constructing beneath the raging hearth way more seen. The picture just isn’t solely way more pleasing to the attention, it feels nearer to what the director had supposed.
Whereas the transformation wasn’t as dramatic on my extra succesful 2017 LG C7 OLED, I nonetheless most popular the UB9000’s dynamic tone mapping over the TV’s because it usually produced a extra detailed picture.
In fact you too can entry Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube by means of the UB9000 with the extra good thing about having the ability to use the HDR Optimiser characteristic on streaming content material as properly, which once more makes a tangible distinction to the viewing expertise.
The UB9000 may also breathe new life into your previous DVD and Blu-ray discs, with top quality upscaling devoid of any undesirable picture enhancements. My solely actual gripe towards the UB9000 is that it doesn’t assist Dolby Atmos or DTS-X playback on Blu-ray rips performed through exterior storage (disc solely). Hopefully Panasonic rectify this with a firmware replace within the close to future.
HDR or bust
Panasonic’s UB9000 is reference class however its HDR Optimiser characteristic places it in a league of its personal. At $1649 it does not come low-cost, however the excellent news is that Panasonic additionally provides a step-down mannequin, the UB820, which sports activities all the identical video options because the UB9000 (together with HDR Optimiser), however with a road worth of simply $549 making it cracking worth.
Krishan is a multi-award-winning Australian expertise journalist.