No Shortage of Blu-ray Players…Yet

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 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 bestbuy.com 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 today.

Search for “Blu-ray” on Amazon and you get a mind-boggling 9,000 results of new, used, and who-knows-what players with a Samsung model (no model number 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 sony.com 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.

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 on American homes.

S&V Poll: How Long Will You Continue to Buy Discs?

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