Why you’ll love it: The Panasonic DP-UB820 shows that not having to spend a ton of money can still yield a lot of value.
As an all-around great 4K Blu-ray player, it doesn’t get much better than the Panasonic DP-UB820. While it carries a premium price, it’s not outrageously expensive considering what you’re getting. This 4K Blu-ray player delivers excellent quality — something you’d normally find only in more expensive players.
Not only does the DP-UB820 output in 4K HDR, but it also supports four HDR formats: HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma. It’s also a network connected player, meaning you can stream (from the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) Netflix, YouTube, or any other supported online service, or from a DLNA-compatible device, such as a computer or media-enabled hard drive.
Powering the DP-UB820 is Panasonic’s HCX processor, which is the same chip found in the much more expensive DP-UB9000 (not sold in the US). With it, the DP-UB820 is able to interpolate 4:2:0 color signals into 4:4:4, which refers to a ratio in something known as chroma sample. To spare you the technical details, higher numbers mean more defined colors in individual pixels and an overall higher-quality image.
The player also has Panasonic’s HDR Optimizer feature, which uses something called “tone mapping” to match the content with a particular TV’s HDR capability (HDR10 only).
If you have an extensive collection of DVD and Blu-ray movies, the DP-UB820 can upsample them to 4K. While it’s technically not true 4K, it can make movies on those formats look a little nicer.
As for sound, the DP-UB820 leaves nothing to be desired. The built-in 192-kHz/32-bit 4-DAC produces excellent audio quality. Panasonic gives you ample connectivity to take advantage of it, too. The DP-UB820 supports digital and optical outputs, as well as HDMI and, most impressively, 7.1 channel analog output for surround sound. The DP-UB820 also supports high-resolution digital audio file formats.
Panasonic also future-proofed the DP-UB820 by integrating it with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control playback with your voice if you have a smart speaker at home. However, this feature will arrive in a future firmware update, which Panasonic hasn’t released.
Out of more than 100 reviews at Best Buy, the player received a 4.8-star rating out of 5 stars. Kris Heering of Sound and Vision gave it a “top pick” award, saying it “offers reference-level video performance and also sets a new bar for HDR playback with both HDR flat-panel TVs and projectors.”
Pros: Excellent image quality, high-resolution audio, great 4K upsampling, integration with smart home platforms
Cons: Remote seems flimsy compared to the main unit, no support for SACD or DVD Audio, tone mapping only works with HDR10-enabled, voice assistance support not ready