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Sony UBP-X800 review: A 4K Blu-ray player alternative with a premium vibe

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The Good The Sony UBP-X800 4K Blu-ray player offers excellent design and oozes a "premium" vibe. Video quality is as good as any player we've tested. It's incredibly fast at loading apps and has some impressive features including Bluetooth streaming.

The Bad It can be slow to load 4K discs. Limited number of audio outputs: no optical digital or stereo analog. The player requires a little hands-on fine-tuning to get the most out of music and DVD replay. No Dolby Vision. Sony's X700 is cheaper and has Dolby Vision.

The Bottom Line The Sony UBP-X800 4K Blu-ray player has impressive build quality and video performance, but the cheaper Sony offers a better deal.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Ecosystem 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Value 7

Sony announced its first 4K Blu-ray player in September of 2016, the UBP-X1000, and while it looked like it was "the business," it was also a sobering $700 (£725 or AU$940). This was followed by the UBP-X800 ($248 at Amazon), and most recently the UBP-X700, which crucially adds Dolby Vision.

Despite the presence of the newer player, the Sony X800 is still available and offers excellent playback quality plus a design that feels solid and high-end, unlike typical non-4K players today. Its $249/‎£400/AU$499 price compares well against other manufacturer's players such as the $559 "videophile" Oppo UDP-203 (now discontinued but still available). Yet the sticking point is Sony's own X700. It's cheaper, and has better support for HDR formats.

In the 12 months since we reviewed the X800 a lot has changed -- more 4K players have come out, prices have come down, and Dolby Vision has become a more viable format. Performance-wise there's not much to separate the X700 and X800, except that the more expensive player is marginally better at DVD playback. As a result the X800 is no longer our go-to 4K player, and we now present two alternatives: If you want streaming apps and Dolby Vision, get the X700; if you want to save money and get an even faster player, but no streaming apps, the LG UP870 is an out-and-out bargain.

First published May 27, 2017. 
Update May 8, 2018
: The introduction and conclusion of this review have been updated to account for more recent reviews, including the Sony X700. The X800's Value rating dropped from 8 to 7, and its overall rating was lowered from 8.1 to 7.9. 

Design

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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.

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The design mimics the STR-DN1080 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.

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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 ($110 at Amazon Marketplace).

Features

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.

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