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LG UP870 review: Affordable, bare-bones 4K HDR Blu-ray player gets it right

The LG UP870 4K Blu-ray player offers blazing speed, superlative picture performance and none of the streaming you don't care about.

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Ty Pendlebury
Ty_Pendlebury.jpg

Ty Pendlebury

Editor

Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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4 min read

There comes a time when every technology crosses the line from enthusiast to mainstream, and now it's 4K Blu-ray's turn. In the LG UP870, the format now has its first truly affordable player, and it's a doozy. It's blazing-fast and plays disks to a very high standard. In short, it's one of the best-performing Blu-ray players we've tested.

The Good

The LG UP870 4K Blu-ray player, for the same price as many HD-only models, is excellent value for money. It offers the best disc-loading speeds of any player to date and is capable of excellent image quality.

The Bad

The player lacks the features you might expect for a 4K player including Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi and streaming apps. The remote control isn't all that fun to use.

The Bottom Line

The LG UP870 4K Blu-ray player strips down its feature set to the bare minimum and concentrates on what's important: superlative performance

Yet there's one big caveat. In a world of smart, connected devices the UP870 is fabulously, gloriously "dumb." Answer me this: Do you buy a Blu-ray player based on how well it streams Netflix? If yes, then you should probably stop reading now. The UP870 doesn't stream Netflix, Amazon, YouTube or anything at all. 

On the other hand you probably already have multiple streaming devices, so you don't really need streaming on your Blu-ray player. The UP870 also excludes other stuff you probably won't need or use, such as Dolby Vision, and concentrates on the necessities. The LG is cheap and it's good. What else do you want?

While the LG UP870 is currently listed as $199 MSRP, the company says it will be running a promotional price for the foreseeable future at $109. Also it's worth noting that the model we reviewed is the end-of-life UP875, but LG says it is identical to the UP870, which will be available throughout 2018.

Design and Features

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This Blu-ray player only plays discs, don't expect any Netflix streaming here.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Half-width Blu-ray players are great if space is tight, but they don't exactly scream "serious home theater." Despite its budget price, the full-size LG UP870 looks like something you could put in a Show Us Yours gallery and feel proud.

It's not showy, yet it's attractive in its own minimalist way with a matte, gunmetal finish. Unlike the similarly brutalist X700, the LG actually includes a modicum of controls on the front of the unit itself, including the Play button the Sony lacks. Who thought that "Play" would be an optional extra these days?

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The menu on this Blu-ray player keeps things simple.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The interface is identical to every LG player we've reviewed over the past five years, minus streaming. The lack of clutter means the process is streamlined: you can either play discs, stream music, photos or videos from a USB drive or adjust the settings. Like the Sony X700 before it, the fuzzy-looking interface is seemingly ported over from its HD players, and so we had to confirm with a test pattern that the LG was putting out 4K. It was.

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The back of the player has a handful of connections, but it's everything you need.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connections are as minimal as you might expect at this price, with a single HDMI 2.0a port, digital optical, Ethernet and a USB slot. The lack of Wi-Fi, and by extension streaming apps, is a little weird in a modern player, but if all you need is something that plays discs you get over it pretty quickly. The Ethernet is for upgrading firmware and that's it.

If your audio system doesn't support the latest HDMI audio standards, you might miss the second HDMI output found on players like the Sony, which is designed to send separate signals to legacy devices. 

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The remote works fine, it just feels a little cheap.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The only semi-disappointing thing about the UP870 is its remote. It works fine, it just feels a little cheap with small spongey buttons when compared to rivals' remotes.

Performance

If you don't mind missing out on Netflix, you will appreciate two main things about the UP870: it's fast at spinning up discs and it makes them look great. The UP870 aced every test we flung at it, and its load times were particularly impressive.

If you want to watch your Blu-ray movie in the fastest possible time, then choose this LG. It squeaked past the next-fastest player we've tested, the Samsung UBD-K8500, in both the Mission Impossible III HD (9.36s) and the Batman vs Superman (21.2s) 4K loading tests. The UP870 insanely fast.

It's not just super quick, it's also capable of image quality that belies its budget price. It even passed a test the Oppo UDP-203 flunked (text overlays on film, though it's a condition you won't often encounter).

Whether it was translating the jaggy-filled pan over the rooftops in the Star Trek Insurrection DVD into a super smooth vista or bringing out the full detail and color palette of our Mad Max Fury Road test disc the LG performed exceptionally.

Despite its budget price, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the player was able to playback the high-frame rate 4K/60Hz of Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk with no issues.

Should you buy it?

At its current price of $109, the LG UP870 is pretty untouchable in terms of value for money. It performs as well as you'd want, and has most of the features a disc spinner should have. If for some reason you do want either Dolby Vision or streaming apps, the Sony X700 is where we'd look. Though we haven't tested the UP970 yet, it should also perform well based on its sibling's performance, and is also worth a gander.

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8.4

LG UP870

Score Breakdown

Design 7Ecosystem 7Features 6Performance 9Value 10
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