Those who thought that the dematerialization of contents would be the death of the Blu-ray will have to review their assessment. This optical disc, in its UHD version, is bound to become the main vessel to democratize UHD-4K format films in the coming months. The first UHD compatible Blu-ray players along with the first films in this format have been announced and should be available very soon. Getting a new generation UHD-4K TV now is a sound investment as there will be no shortage of content to enjoy.
Panasonic and Samsung have officially announced that their first Ultra-HD Blu-ray player will be available by the end of 2015 / early 2016, under the reference Panasonic DMR-UBZ1 and Samsung UBD-K8500.
Panasonic’s player is announced as a top-of-the-range model featuring aluminium casing and equipped with a triple tuner (digital TV / Satellite) as well as a 3 Tb hard drive for recording TV programs. As regards UHD Blu-ray discs, this player will be compatible with HDR (High Dynamic Range), HFR (High Frame Rate) at 60 frames per second and will also support the HEVC codec (10 bits). Connectors include a double HDMI 2.0a output (HDCP 2.2), an Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 port, i-Link connector, two S/PDIF audio outputs as well as a stereo RCA and XLR output. A smart card port (for TV services) and an SD slot are also available on the front panel.
The Samsung UBD-K8500 will not offer the possibility of recording TV programs but will be HDR and HRF compatible. Just like the Panasonic player, it will be Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible in addition to supporting DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD formats. Once connected to the local network, the Samsung player should also offer multiroom and Smart Hub functions as well as access to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It will be equipped with an HDMI 2.0a output (HDCP2.2), a USB port, an Ethernet port, a digital optical output and will feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
Note that these two players will also play HD 1080p Blu-ray discs in both 2D and 3D, with the possibility of upscaling the picture to UHD 2160p.
As regards films, Sony has announced the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Salt, Hancock, Chappie, Pineapple Express and The Smurfs 2 for early 2016, shortly followed by Fury, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Men In Black, Ghostbusters, The Fifth Element, Bad Boys, The Da Vinci Code, Dracula (F.F. Coppola), Léon : the Professional, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone, Taxi Driver, Mister Smith Goes to Washington, and many more.
Twentieth Century Fox has also announced that Kingsman : The secret Service, Exodus : Gods And Kings, X-Men : Days Of Future Past, Life of Pi, Wild, The Maze Runner and probably the latest version of The Fantastic Four will be released in UHD Blu-ray format. All new films released by major studios should then be released simultaneously in UHD Blu-ray, 1080p Blu-ray and DVD.