No Shortage of Blu-ray Players…Yet

Samsung turned more than a few heads last week when it confirmed that it would no longer sell Blu-ray players in the U.S. The news was particularly striking because Samsung made headlines just three years ago when it introduced the world’s first 4K/Ultra Blu-ray player — the Top Pick-designated UBD-K8500.

The loss of a major brand like Samsung is significant in a field with only a handful of key players to begin with, which got us thinking: Exactly how many Blu-ray player options are there right now?

Starting with retail, we focused on mainstream brands and checked in with Best Buy where we found 19 models (excluding refurbished models) listed from five brands: LG, Magnavox, Philips, Samsung, and Sony. Prices range from $70 for Sony’s standard BDP-S1700 player to $500 for 4K models from Samsung (UBD-M9700) and Sony (UBP-X1000ES). In between were a handful of $200 and $300 models from Sony and Samsung.

In contrast to Best Buy, Crutchfield lists 10 models from four brands — LG, Samsung, Sony, and Yamaha — at prices ranging from $70 for the same entry-level Sony player on to $500 for either Sony’s ES Series UDP-X1000ES 4K player or Yamaha’s Aventage BD-A1060 standard player, which spins SACD music discs along with standard Blu-rays. Six of the 10 models for sale on Crutchfield are 4K and five of those are Wi-Fi-enabled models with onboard streaming options. All but one are shown as “in stock” and the out-of-stock model was due to be replenished in mid-March.

Search for “Blu-ray” on Amazon and you get a mind-boggling 9,000 results of new, used, and who-knows-what-kind-of-players with an unspecified Samsung model listed as “Amazon’s Choice” for $98.52. Narrowing the search to 4K Blu-ray turns up a mere 2,000 results with the Sony UBP-X700 listed as “Amazon’s Choice” with a “click to see” price of $198.

Moving on to the websites of each brand, starting with Samsung, here’s what we found…

SamsungNine players are listed — five 4K models and four standard players — all of which will presumably go away as soon as stock sells out. Prices range from $80 for the BD-J5100 standard player to $500 for the UBD-M9700 4K player featuring built-in streaming and high-dynamic range (HDR) capability.

SonyWith 13 players listed, Sony takes the prize for having more players than any other brand. The current lineup on shows seven standard Blu-ray models and six 4K players — ranging in price from $70 for an entry-level Blu-ray model to the new UBP-X800M2 introduced at CES 2019. Pricing has not been announced for the high-end model, which features high-resolution audio capability, plays DVD-Audio and SACD music discs, and supports three flavors of HDR — Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). Other 4K player highlights include the hi-res-audio-capable BDP-S7200 ($180) and ES Series UBP-X1000ES mentioned earlier — a universal, hi-res-capable machine that plays DVD-Audio and SACD discs.

Pioneer – Three models are listed, starting with the UDP-LX500 universal 4K player ($1,099), featuring Ultra HD Premium certification, a high-end “three-block internal layout,” and Reference presets tailored to OLED, Projector, and LCD sources (watch for our review). Two Wi-Fi-enabled standard players are listed in Pioneer’s Elite series: The BDP-62FD ($400), featuring DVD-Audio/SACD playback, and the BDP-80FD ($300).

LG Six players, evenly split between standard and 4K models, are listed. They range in price from $70 for the standard BP175 (via Best Buy) to $280 for the UBK90 4K player featuring Dolby Vision (discounted from $300). The lowest price 4K player is the $180 UBK80, featuring HDR10 support and 3D capability. The UBKC90 4K player featuring Dolby Vision is touted at the “see retailer” price of $250 but is apparently available only at Costco.

Onkyo – The THX-certified BD-SP809 is the brand’s lone Blu-ray player. At $500, it is indeed a high-performance player but it is not a 4K player. It does, however, provide 3D processing for those who care.

Panasonic – The DP-UB820 4K player, featuring Dolby Vision and hi-res sound capability, is the only model listed at the “preorder” price of $500. Interesting, because Sound & Vision reviewed this model last year and awarded it a Top Pick.

PhilipsNine players are listed, three standard and six 4K models, but only three show pricing: the BDP7502 ($300), featuring Dolby Vision and 4K streaming; the BDP7501 ($350), featuring a compact (and square) form factor with HDR10 support but no streaming; and the standard BDP3502 ($90). All other models have a “Buy from Retailer” link to search for a local store. But a quick search from our metro New York location yielded no results for four of the six players. Of the two remaining players — both standard Blu-ray — one has a link to Fry’s Electronics, which lists the $80 model as sold out, and the other is listed as available online via Walmart where the player is listed as “not in stock.”

Magnavox – Three players are listed — two standard models with no model numbers or pricing — and a 4K model with a link to P.C. Richard & Son. Clicking on the link and searching the site for “Magnavox” turned up zero results.

So while a good number of Blu-ray players are available from several brands at the moment, it is a category that bears watching as streaming becomes increasingly common in American homes.

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Robert Zohn's picture

Value Electronics has Panasonic's UB9000 for sale at $999, which has been shipping since late December 2018. Next allocation is schedule for early March and every month thereafter.

brenro's picture

The local Best Buy has these in stock.