Panasonic has launched the world’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player that will go on sale in Japan next month. The new 4K disc spinner has been priced at 4,00,000 yen which is approximately over 2 lac INR, the high price could be due to the fact that the player has the capability to write blu-rays and an in-built recorder with a hard disc capacity of 3TB. The model (DMR-UBZ1) also supports High Dynamic range (HDR) which is a unique feature of 4K UHD Blu-ray discs.
What’s new in Ultra HD Blu-ray when compared to normal Blu-ray discs?
Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are poised to deliver 4 times the resolution of 1080p HD along with two new features recently added to 4K TV’s; High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG), note that all 4K TV’s don’t support HDR and WCG, except the high end models from LG OLED, Samsung and Sony.
The result of HDR and WCG are incredible contrast, more colors and stunning sound quality which easily beats what you get at movie halls. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs can offer videos at 60 fps, but this really shouldn’t matter as most movies are shot at 24fps.
Do I need a new Blu-ray player for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs?
Yes, you will need to get a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player. The good news is that the new Ultra HD Blu-ray players are backward compatible which can play standard Blu-ray discs, DVD’s etc. Playback of 3D Blu-ray discs is left to the manufacturer to decide if they support 3D Blu-rays.
Another important feature is the object based sound delivery like we see on Dolby Atmos or DTS:X
Does my 4K UHD TV work with Ultra HD Blu-ray?
Yes, most of the current 4K UHD TV models work with Ultra HD Blu-ray players. The catch is that you will not experience the HDR and WCG features (as we explained earlier) unless you have a 4K TV model that supports HDR and WCG. Samsung and LG have a few models that support this feature. HDR systems require HDMI 2.0a that can handle larger bandwidth, high-end 4K UHD TV’s are equipped with this hardware.
Ultra HD Blu-ray players automatically detects the TV resolution and adapts the picture quality accordingly .
Does my Home Theatre system work with Ultra HD Blu-ray players?
Yes, you can connect the Ultra HD Blu-player to your amplifier. Again, the catch here is that if you have a 4K UHD TV that supports HDR, you will need to upgrade your HT receiver to a model that supports HDR (with HDMI port 2.0a) to enjoy the features of HDR.
What setup do I need to enjoy Ultra HD 4K movies with HDR?
You will need a 4K HDR capable UHD TV and if you prefer to have a home theatre system, you will need to choose a receiver that supports HDMI 2.0a (thats required for HDR) and finally an Ultra HD Blu-ray player with discs (no titles are available in the market while I’m writing this)
Ultra HD-Blu-ray titles
UHD Blu-ray titles are planned to hit the shelves early 2016. There are a few soft copies of UHD movies from streaming services. I must admit that watching a few scenes from Life of Pi on an LG OLED HDR TV was incredible.
Well, if you are planning to buy a high end home theatre or an expensive TV, you may want to wait or look for models that are HDR enabled. 4K UHD with HDR is the way forward at-least for the next few years. Samsung, Sony & LG are expected to launch more 4K UHD TV’s and players that support HDR. 2016 should be an interested year with many options in the market.