The Ultra HD TV world has gone without content long enough, and if you joined the UHDTV revolution early, you can finally find content for your newish TV.
It’s certainly taken its time, but Ultra HD content is finally here, beyond either the “you can find some trailers on YouTube” and “Netflix has some shows in 4K” arguments that manufacturers and pundits had been using for the past few years.
After years of talk about what sort of medium 4K movies would be transmitted in, and a hope that a fibre-based National Broadband Network could let Australians see 4K video due to the size, optical media has been turned to once again.
Yes, Blu-ray has come to the rescue, delivering salvation to movie studios keen to get films in higher qualities to customers ready for it armed with TVs that can make it happen.
Already, JB HiFi is listing 13 titles that offer the goodness of 4K video, including the likes of “The Revenant”, “The Lego Movie”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and “The Martian”, as well as “Deadpool”, with seven more on the way that we know of.
Unfortunately, your standard Blu-ray player just won’t cut it, with support for larger data amounts on the disc and new formats, so you’ll want something new for that.
Fortunately, Samsung and Panasonic are ready with models, or two at the moment, with one from each.
First there’s Samsung, with the UBD-K8500, a Blu-ray player offering a curved design to match the televisions Samsung would like you to spend money on, and also support for the Ultra HD resolution of 3840×2160 the TVs handle, too.
The player handles HDR content — just like the TVs — and will even play back those standard Blu-rays and DVDs, upscaling the imagery to 4K for the TV.
Panasonic is the other manufacturer with a 4K Blu-ray player in Australia, and it has the UB900, a model that much like the Samsung can handle the 4K content on the newer 100GB discs, though Panasonic is claiming access to a lab in Hollywood for the processing of discs to achieve more vivid colours. Part of this intention comes from the THX certification the UB900 has, so all you need is a THX setup at home and you’ll get the proper cinema experience.
Aside for the 4K Blu-ray support, Panasonic is also supporting high-resolution audio with its Blu-ray player, supporting FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and DSD out of the box through a simulation of vacuum tube sound with up to 192kHz upsampling, handy for those of us spending the money on high resolution audio as well as high resolution video.
“As demand for 4K video continues to expand, the DMP-UB900 offers a new video viewing experience for those who demand uncompromised quality in picture and sound,” said Maetham Roomi, Senior Product Manager for Panasonic’s Home Entertainment division.
“Not only is it certified as Ultra HD Premium, it reproduces images with cinema-level quality at home, using unique Panasonic technologies to deliver images that are faithful to the original. By raising video and audio quality, the DMP-UB900 means you can experience an overwhelming new world of pictures and sounds.”
As for the other majors, we have asked and heard very little back, with no word either on whether there will be any updates for existing hardware. It would be nice to find out all of a sudden whether Sony’s PlayStation products will be upgraded to support the technology, and Sony has always been pretty good about the updates, but right now the company isn’t saying a word.
Our bet is that Sony’s PS3 and PS4 will both miss out on a firmware update to support UHD Blu-ray, with the rumour of a new PS4.5 likely solving that one for consumers, even if it does require the purchase of a new console.
For now, know that you have two choices. Or you will come September, because right now Samsung’s UBD-K8500 is the only option available, arriving in electronics stores for a recommended retail price of $599.
Panasonic’s UB900 is on the horizon, but September is the expected timeframe for that. If you can wait, you’ll see it then, and possibly a strong competitor for Samsung’s product, at that.