Sony announced its first 4K Blu-ray player in September of 2016, the , and while it looked like it was "the business", it was also a sobering $700 (roughly £540 or AU$940). Fast forward six months, though, and the more affordable version is here: the UBP-X800.
The Sony player offers excellent playback quality and a design that feel solid and high-end, unlike typical non-4K players today. Its $299/£400 (around AU$400) price is competitive with the incumbent, year-old($250 -- around £540, AU$330) as well as the newer "videophile" player, the .
Of these three, the expensive UDP-203 is the odd one out: It lacks streaming features and is a little slow at loading discs. The only reason to buy the Oppo right now -- or the $270 (roughly £210, AU$360)-- is if you want Dolby Vision. The Sony and Samsung each have their pluses and minuses and both currently offer better value than the Oppo. The Samsung is still our favorite, however, as it's 50 dollars cheaper and a little faster across the board.
"What about the Xbox's recent interface changes have made it more of a pain to play media and games alike. The Sony is both streamlined and relatively zippy, so if you just want to play discs and don't care about Xbox games, the X800 is a more enjoyable experience by far.?" you might ask. It also plays 4K Blu-ray discs and costs less than the Sony. Unfortunately the
Australian pricing is yet to be confirmed, though I anticipate around AU$800, but we'll know closer to its July 2017 release Down Under.
The design of the X800 is virtually identical to the more expensive X1000 with its low-slung, "book-on-its-side" appearance. The most notable difference is that there's no display on the X800.
The front of the unit is pretty sparse, the disc tray hides behind a drop-down panel and another pull-away panel fronts a USB port. The only visible features are the Sony logo and buttons for power and eject, which are a little too close together -- I found it was easy to accidentally hit one instead of the other. With no Play control on the unit you will need the remote to perform almost all of the functions.
The design mimics the receiver: the top and bottom edge of the unit are textured steel with gloss black stripe across the middle. It's also built solid -- hold the unit in your hands and the X800 has a pleasing heft to it.
The X800's remote is the adorable candy bar similar to other recent Sony components. It offers the handy Home button near where your thumb rests and several functions can be performed with the remote alone, including launching Netflix. It trounces the terrible, tiny clicker Samsung ships with the UBD-K8500 ($167.99 at Amazon Marketplace).
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the latest disc-based standard, and it includes features such as 4K resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels) and better color depth.
The Sony also offers support for HDR video in the form of HDR10, but not Dolby Vision. Format wars are never fun, but this one is shaping up to be a "DTS vs. Dolby" situation which means the two may happily coexist and have minimal effect on us, the end users. Among major TV makers only Samsung has yet to support Dolby Vision. We'll have to wait till the first discs arrive in June 2017 to test the efficacy of the disc format, but from what we've seen with streaming, the differences over HDR10 won't be drastic.
While Oppo has gone the extreme videophile route with its UDP-203 and slashed all streaming features, the Sony has gone in the complete opposite direction. The UBP-X800's accent on streaming comes through from the Sony's home screen -- it's a grid of numerous streaming services and a single "disc" icon.