Despite a somewhat muted introduction at CES 2016, 4K Blu-ray is coming in 2016. While the industry has been shy about when to expect the new discs, it was up to Amazon to bring us the details -- including the all-important pricing.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the next (and possibly last) physical disc format, promising a better picture than existing media. Advances include 4K resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels), better color and enhanced contrast through high dynamic range (HDR) technologies like Dolby Vision.
Though a number of titles have been announced so far, and are available to preorder, only one has a release date at this point; possibly hastened by its good showing at the Golden Globes.
Ridley Scott's "The Martian" is available on Amazon for preorder at $29.99 with a release date of March 1 (with the non-4K Blu-ray available in mid-January 2016). The film was one of last year's biggest films and it's a useful yardstick as far as what the expected price of discs will be. All of the other movies available for preorder so far are between $30 and $36.
Of the studios to announce titles, Warner has the strongest lineup so far with "The Martian," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The LEGO Movie," "Pan," "San Andreas." The company says it will have over 35 titles available by the end of 2016 including "Man of Steel" and "Pacific Rim."
Meanwhile Imax film distributor Shout Factory has announced "Journey to Space," "Humpback Whales," "Flight of the Butterflies," "Rocky Mountain Express," "Wonders of the Arctic" and "The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea."
In order to support these discs, three mainstream players compatible with the new format were announced at CES 2016: the, the and the Philips BDP7501 are expected this year. The Samsung and Philips are expected to retail for $400 while the Panasonic's price is yet to be determined. Surprisingly, Sony has yet to detail its 4K Blu-ray player plans, and LG has said it's employing a "wait and see" philosophy.