Sony UBP-X800 4K UHD Blu-ray player review
Last Updated on by Daniel Osakwe
Sony may have snubbed the UHD Blu-ray format with the PS4 Pro, but it now offers a number of dedicated 4K Blu-ray players: the custom-install-only UBP-X1000ES, the brand-new X700, and this mainstream torchbearer, the UBP-X800.
The Sony UBP-X800 isn’t just a UHD disc spinner, but a highly detailed media machine as well. The player plays Blu-ray, DVD, and CD discs, as well as Super Audio CDs and DVD-A discs. It is also compatible with a variety of High-Res Audio codecs.
Though it’s not perfect – we would have liked Dolby Vision and a lower price, more in line with the X700 – it’s still arguably the best Blu-ray player in its class one year after its release.
Sony UBP-X800: Build quality and design
As far as aesthetics go, the UBP-X800 is similar to the Sony UHP-H1 HD Blu-ray player. The design is simple and sleek. It features a glossy fascia and stippled top lid on a 430mm model.
One HDMI output supports HDCP 2.2, and the other is an audio-only HDMI 1.4 output for use with receivers that do not support 4K video passthrough. One digital audio coaxial output is also provided. Sony’s LDAC headroom extension allows dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth on the deck. Bluetooth headphones can be paired with the player as well. An Ethernet LAN port is also available. Two USB 2.0 ports are located on the front and rear of the device.
Sony has really stepped up its game when it comes to the build. It uses the same Frame and beam design as its predecessor but includes additional reinforcement to better handle resonance. Along with new internal 1.2mm bracing struts, there are ‘foot beams’ connecting the players’ feet. The deck weighs a reassuringly heavy 3.8kg.
Sony UBP-X800: Smart OS
The UBP-X800 is based on the same MediaTek platform used by Oppo and Cambridge Audio UHD players, but you wouldn’t know that from the UI. When activated, we are greeted by a tiled interface offering easy access to features and functions. We can personalize this with content sources of our choice.
You can stream 4K content from Amazon Video, Netflix, and YouTube, depending on your location. Netflix, however, only supports HDR at this time.
In addition, the player supports Miracast Screen Mirroring from compatible devices and is DLNA compliant. The player recognized our NAS and Twonky Media servers immediately.
The compatibility of audio files is impressive. UBP-X800 supports 24-bit FLAC and DSD up to 11.2MHz, as well as WAV, AAC, MP3, APE, and Ogg. Sony’s DSEE-HX enhances lossy files to help you get the most out of them. The video support includes MKVs, which is probably all that most people will need, as well as MPEG, MOV, AVI, and m2ts, all upscaling to 2160p.
The picture quality is excellent. As far as resolution is concerned, this Sony delivers everything to the screen without artifacts. The color performance is excellent. In addition to showing band-free colors and interpolating UHD, the player offers four-times-four subsampling. Unlike Panasonic’s rival UHD players, the player does not offer selectable output modes. Instead, it sends as much data as is possible from the connected screen. As an example, if your 4K TV supports UHD at 60p, the player will output 2160p with a frame rate of 60p, Deep Color at 12bit, and Chroma at 4:4:4.
As soon as your display is unable to handle that, the deck gradually reduces the amount of data, prioritizing resolution, frame rate, HDR, deep color, and color space.
Sony insiders tell me that final tuning was done by experts from Sony Pictures, and it is clear you’re watching studio-grade master material. With excellent shadow detail juxtaposed against vibrant neon colors, the nighttime action of John Wick 2 (UHD Blu-ray) proves a stunning showcase for high contrast imagery.
Neither HDR10 nor Dolby Vision is supported by the deck when it comes to content with High Dynamic Range. This is only an issue if you have a Dolby Vision-compatible display. Sony has repeatedly denied plans to add Dolby Vision to the X800 via a firmware update, despite speculation to the contrary.
If you don’t have an HDR TV, you can use an HDR-to-SDR converter, which maps peak brightness and color gradations.
In terms of upscaling Blu-rays, the player does a great job. While the UBP-X800 spins Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we swear that we could see added detail and texture.
The X800 is not just a great video player; it’s also a great audio player. Using HDMI, it delivers multichannel Hi-Res audio. On DVD-A, Eric Clapton’s Reptile from the album of the same name is magically immersive.
The UBP-X800’s build quality is impressive. Its build quality is evident in the player’s near-silent operation. In terms of picture quality, UHD Blu-ray discs, as well as vanilla HD discs, are first-rate. Furthermore, it’s a great audio source that’s compatible with esoteric disc formats and High-Res Audio files.
One of the major complaints about the UBP-X800 is that it does not support Dolby Vision. In spite of the paucity of Dolby Vision Blu-ray discs, the reason would seem to be more down to product development cycles and timing than any kind of PS4 Pro-style philosophical entrenchment.
As a result of the lack of an analog audio output, a lot of system hookup options are limited, but we guess Sony needed to sell you up to its UBP-X1000ES model.
|Hi-Res Audio file playback||No analog stereo output|
|SACD and DVD-A compatibility||Not Dolby Vision compatible|
|4K Netflix and Amazon onboard|
|Superb 4K UHD Blu-ray picture performance|
Sony’s UBP-X800 hits such a sweet spot that we suspect you won’t want to pay more or less for a UHD Blu-ray player. Built beautifully, and capable of excellent audio and video, this deck will appeal to both audiophiles and home theatre lovers.
The wait for UHD Blu-ray has been worth the wait, as Sony took its time rolling it out. With the ability to challenge higher-priced models, this is one of the most competitive UHD disc spinners on the market. Additionally, it’s a versatile music player with excellent image quality.