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3 Days With The Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player (Review)

A lot has changed in my home media arsenal since I first sat down last June to review my first set of 4K Ultra HD gear, the Sony XBR65X930D and Samsung UBD-K8500, over here.  I’ve added Dolby Atmos, some really monstrous Klipsch speakers, a surplus of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles, a second 4K setup and most recently the newly released Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.  In the past 8 months Brandon Peters and I have also put together a pretty impressive resume of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review titles archived here and I even did a pretty rad Top 10 list over here.  While the relationship between my Samsung KS8000 4K set and the Samsung UBD-K8500 has been pretty harmonious the same one between the Samsung 4K player and Sony 930D has been quite heartbreaking at times.  So it’s with eager arms that I jumped all over Sony’s first ever 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the UBP-X800, upon its release last week.  And that ladies and gentlemen is what we’re gathered here to talk about today.  Follow me in.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this review is not to be ultra technical.  You can scour the AVS Forum for that.  Instead I want to give the lay reader an honest user review that’s both easy to understand and follow as well as straight to the point as to whether or not this is something you should pick up.

Why it took one of the inventors of the original Blu-ray format, Sony, so damn long to come out with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player is beyond me, but alas that day has arrived.  My primary reasons for grabbing this player instantly without any regards to user reviews is three-fold.  First of all I love the Sony brand and have never had anything but great experiences with their products.  However, truth be told to this very day I’m still very shocked and pissed Sony released the PlayStation 4 Pro last year without a drive that’s capable of 4K UHD Blu-ray playback.  Second, I had hoped it would solve the HDMI handshake issues I get sporadically with certain 4K UHD Blu-ray disc menus and initial feature playback.  I thought the Sony to Sony relationship would be stronger than the mishaps I have experienced with the Sony to Samsung one.  And last but certainly not least I was dismayed to learn that the Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD player applies a tad of DNR into the image and is not something you can disable.  Rest assured we’ll talk about these three main reasons and so much more down below here in this review, but first let’s unbox this sucker.

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UNBOXING…

The first thing you’ll notice before you even take this 4K machine out of it’s box is its weight compared to the Samsung UHD player.  It’s actually quite hefty.  I believe it weighs in at over 7 pounds.  That’s almost tank-like in regards to how the big boys like Oppo do it.  So down below here I show you all the pertinent corners of the outer box as well as a peak inside as to how it’s all housed.  Just a word to the wise if you care about your keeping your product packaging like I do, take great care with the styrofoam when pulling it out from the cardboard box.  It’s quite fragile and the one corner cracked on me.  Now what say you?  Let’s get this thing unpacked!

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OUT OF THE BOX…

Now that we have this guy out of the box let’s take a quick moment or two down below to take in its sculpture, sleek fine lines and bask in all its beauty.  Ha!  I make things so dramatic, don’t I?  Yes I do! The very first thing I noticed about this 4K player besides its weight was its width.  It’s a lot wider than the Samsung 4K player I’m replacing it with.  I literally had to lift the top shelf up within my entertainment center and angle this Sony player in to get it to fit aesthetically .

As seen in the images below the only way to tell when this player is powered on is by the small illuminated light in the top right, front corner.  When you eject the disc tray out to put a disc in the entire length of the front drops down and the disc holder ejects forward.  I’m telling you this trivial information so you don’t block it within your entertainment center.  Other than that the front is pretty simple consisting solely of a USB interface and a power and eject button.

The rear of the player is pretty much just as simplistic as the front.  The power cord is affixed and the only other things you’ll see on the back here is a network LAN jack, 2 HDMI outs (HDMI 2 is reserved for audio only) and a Coaxial Digital Out.  Oddly there is no optical audio connection available here.

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SETUP…

Upon powering up the 4K player the setup is relatively simple.  The first step involves setting the player up on your network.  Connecting to my home wi-fi was a breeze.  While writing this review there is actually one update for this player that became available March 2nd. The download of it was painless, but a bit slow over wi-fi (see below screenshot).   It is supposed to offer improved compatibility of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and  support for various network services.  That’s all I know.

The only gotcha that took me some time to figure out was how to send bitstream audio out from the player to my receiver to play back the atmospheric codecs of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.  For that I had to refer to the enclosed user manual, which was actually quite helpful in the matter.  There’s no option that says bitstream.  You simply have to toggle two of the audio selections correctly as instructed within the manual.  Dumb!

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PLAYBACK AND CONTROLS…

As you can see from the last rear image up above the Sony UBP-X800 4K UHD Blu-ray player plays almost anything you can throw at it from DVDs, 3D Blu-rays and 4K Ultra HD discs to USB files, CD Audio and even Super Audio (SACD).  See here for the complete list of all the audio/video formats this guy supports.  You can even listen to this guy via Bluetooth headsets.  How cool is that?  For simplicity sake and time though I’ll focus on both HDR playback of 4K UHD discs as well as SDR 1080p Blu-ray presentations here in this review as that’s all I’ll ever use this player for.  But first let’s look at what the onscreen home menu looks like.  It’s definitely not as pretty as the Samsung 4K player’s in my opinion.  Upon insertion of an optical media in the ejectable disc drive it will load that media content.  Load times for the various 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles I have tried have been rather quick and hassle-free so I’m pleased there.

One thing I love about this player is unlike the Samsung 4K Ultra HD player I can control both my 930D 4K TV set and the Sony UBP-X800 with my iPhone and Sony’s iOS app.  So before we move on I wanted to show you a screenshot of what that both are like as well as get you close up and intimate with the remote that’s night and day better than the Samsung UBD-K8500 player’s God awful remote.  Click on the below thumbnail images for maximum viewing pleasure.


The DISPLAY button on either remote will bring up the following screens.  The below screenshots are examples of a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray title (Suicide Squad) playing as well as what the display would look like for a 4K SDR title like Bad Santa 2 or a 1080p Blu-ray in this case (Nocturnal Animals).  For the life of me though I don’t know why for Suicide Squad it only shows the Dolby True HD surround track instead of the Dolby Atmos one my receiver is really seeing and pumping out.

Playback of Blu-ray and 4K UHD discs is pretty simple and straightforward.  There’s no bells and whistles to be found here.  The Sony UBP-X800 4K player just works.  It also appears to be a wee bit sharper than my former Samsung 4K player, but not by much.  Now with that being said I have still had my share of HDMI handshake issues sadly.  For example when watch the very stunning 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Ghostbusters (2016) my 930D TV lost sync with the player before the main Ghostbusters 4K menu forcing me to having to make things right again by flipping through TV inputs.  Boo!  Thankfully though I have had no other playback issues other than that.  Some saying turning off Deep Color will fix this issue, but I have yet to try changing from Auto to Off on that setting.  The spinning disc inside the Sony UBP-X800 is ultra quiet compared to some of the playback experiences I had with the lighter Samsung UBD-K8500.  So there’s that!  Just an FYI though I have heard there’s an issue with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk on 4K UHD where it’s displaying in SDR and not in the correct 60 frames per second.  I haven’t tried my copy of that title in this one yet, but I did read many user complaints about it.  However, I believe they all stemmed from the fact the people experiencing problems were passing the video first through an A/V receiver first rather than going straight into the television like I do.

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STREAMING APPS…

Now I didn’t buy the Sony UBP-X800 4K player for its streaming apps, but I’d be a bad reviewer if I didn’t at least mention them.  Thankfully there’s not a lot to go over here.  There’s only 4 of them and out of the 4 only Netflix really works (the others need a firmware update).  Crazy huh!  The other three apps are: Amazon Video, Opera TV and VUDU.  Now I haven’t tried the Netflix app yet, but I have read reviews of it with some users saying they have intermittent issues with HDR output from it.  Oddly missing is Sony’s proprietary Ultra HD app that my 930D TV set has.  That’s too bad because Sony allows you to redeem your 4K UHD Blu-ray’s Digital Copies in UHD for playback exclusively through this aforementioned proprietary app.  Who knows maybe a firmware update will bring this, fix the other apps and eventually bring more.  As of mid March now there are no such updates available to bring anymore apps to this player.

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2 FREE 4K UHD BLU-RAYS…

Here’s where things have been an absolute hassle for me.  You have to register your Sony UBP-X800 4K player on Sony’s website by visiting this page.  Then it took me 4 days for Sony to verify my trial number and send me a 12-digit code.  They give you another link which sends you to a page to enter the code as pictured below.

Once unlocked you can pick 2 from the following 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles: The 5th Wave, Angels & Demons, Chappie, Concussion, The Da Vinci Code, Inferno, Ghostbusters (2016), The Magnificent Seven, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, Sausage Party, Risen, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Salt, The Angry Birds Movie, The Shallows and Underworld.  It should be noted that at the time of this writing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out of stock.  Having most of those titles already I picked Salt and Concussion, as I never seen the latter and I have a friend in that film.  Sounds simple, eh?  Well before you can check out you’re taken to yet another screen that consists of the same titles plus other ones such as the original Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2, Smurfs 2, etc. and given the opportunity to buy them at 60% off.  That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s the checkout process that kills me.  I tried for two days and probably a total of 6 times, but when I hit Submit to request my two free UHD titles I always get an invalid error code telling me to remove my coupon code from the cart.  I have emailed Sony about this problem and patiently awaited their response, but I ended up solving the issue on my own.  I went back to this page and boom it worked with no issues compared to the very link that Sony emailed me to redeem from.

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MY FINAL VERDICT…

So here’s the deal.  I know the Panasonic and Oppo 4K players are superior, but I’m not one of those guys that want to spend $600 for a rectangle that just spins disc.  I’m more about the value with all the bells and whistles I need to make myself personally happy.  So with that been said I’m keeping the Sony UBP-X800 4K player.  The pros outweigh the cons for me.  Will this player ever receive Dolby Vision with a firmware update?  That remains to be seen, but truth be told none of my 4K TV sets support Dolby Vision either so that’s not a deal breaker to me.

The overall build quality (weight and stability too), better remote, slight image quality bump during 4K Blu-ray playback (no Samsung-like DNR that I am aware of) and the Sony brand name make it a better choice for me over the Samsung UBD-K8500, which is now an unplugged backup source for me in the home front.  However, if you live on a lean or tight budget, this Sony player is not something you should run out and buy to replace your Samsung one right now.  The benefits are very minor and negligible.  I say you get more value with the Samsung UBD-K8500 than you do with this Sony player in terms of streaming apps and a lesser price tag.  Now make no mistake about it this Sony unit will fall in price this year, but until then I would wait and see what happens with future firmware updates and other new products this year.  Unless you need a 4K Ultra HD player now or just have to have it for the Sony name like me, my final verdict is to wait it out for an eventual dip in price and a healthy comparison check with other competing brands/models launching this year.  Thanks for reading!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

32 Responses to “3 Days With The Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player (Review)”


  1. Ulises

    Hello I have the Samsung 8500 and an Lg Oled b6 tv, I want to know if you saw a noticeable image quality bump with the Sony player vs the Samsung? Thank you very much

  2. Randy Reichenbach

    How and where did you get yours, I cant find anything but preorder?

  3. Marco Polo

    I have the same question: is there an image bump from the Samsung 8500 and an LG OLED utilizing the new Sony player?

  4. Marco Polo

    Need an answer to the same question please

  5. Brian White

    Hi guys
    Sorry I was on vacation
    Yes the image quality is better (4K playback), but it’s not a huge bump. Samsung has stronger DNR on it’s image. I hear that Sony has a bit, but from my experience the image is sharper and fine grain is more prevalent.
    Hope that helps. It’s not night and day, but I do notice a small bump.
    As far as where to buy I bought it from Best Buy and it’s in stock there.
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsung-ubd-k8500-4k-ultra-hd-wi-fi-built-in-blu-ray-player-black/4853800.p?skuId=4853800

  6. Marc Braiverman

    Randy
    Order online at Best Buy….pick up in store 3 days later
    Was told they might have it in stock in the stores 3/12
    Buy soon….two free 4k movies after registration but you only have 15 choices
    Marc

  7. Marcin L

    Set the DEEP COLOR to OFF and no more handshake issues on either Samsung or Sony.

  8. Brian White

    Hi Marcin. Turn Deep Color off on the player you are saying?

  9. Phil

    Hi,

    Why do you say the Oppo and Panasonic players are superior?

    Thanks,

    Phil.

  10. Brian White

    Well honestly everyone in the profession and A/V enthusiasts swear by them from the quality of the build to the chipset that allows the immaculate playback. Would I spend $300 more for a dedicated player that pretty much does the same thing as the Sony? Hell no!

  11. Trish Morrison

    Thanks for your analysis & prepare to be flooded as the Sony is just hitting the market. What concerns me most about what you wrote was the DNR aspect of the Samsung. I’m guessing that’s like the “soap-opera effect” wherein the grain of the image is diminished (or the opposite) in the digital process. I know this is a hard question to answer, but I’m guessing your Samsung is being used as an unplugged standby device for a reason. Is that reason that the image was that skewed that you wanted to replace it? After A LOT of research, I just sprung for an LG OLED 4K 3D TV, and I think I’d jump off the roof…lol…if I hooked it up to the Samsung & the display was unsatisfactory. Do you know of any tweaking which could “fix” it? (Also, I’m not convinced that the Sony is a better “switch to” for many reasons you’ve noted.) Lastly, did the reader ever answer you re: his handshake fix? Thanks very much!

  12. T. Morrison

    Don’t know if my earlier post got thru yet, but if so, please ignore it! I made the dim-witted choice to only read your conclusion (unforgivable I know). When I had time to read your entire review, all of my questions were answered, and my dilemma was solved. I don’t own ANY 4K player yet & was trying to decide between the Samsung & Sony. Easy – I’m not going to buy either & will patiently wait (along with my other new toys to amuse me) until the technology improves on these devices. This resolution was finally made clear due your great review. Many thanks!

  13. Brian White

    Thanks for you comments T. No, the reader never chimed back on the handshake issue. I have not had the issue since I wrote the review when testing Ghostbusters. I would say I put 5 4K titles through it since this review with zero issues. My Deep Color setting on the player is set to Auto. So I have 3 4K players, 2 Samsungs and the Sony. My Samsung I took out in favor of this Sony is sitting on the dresser of guest bedroom unplugged. It will be a backup. My other 4K setup is the Samsung KS8000 65″ and I use that in the game room to play games and the occasional 4K titles through the Samsung player. I don’t have Atmos in that setup so my main reviewing gear is with the Sony setup. I would say if you want help with picture settings rtings.com is a great place to start.

  14. Mark Zamora

    I can’t get audio from hdmi2 .I tried the settings in the manual and still no audio.

  15. Andy Lytle

    All of the Ultra HD 4k discs come out in purple and green colors only. Standard blu-ray play just fine. I updated the firmware to M36.R.0111 which is supposed to Improve the compatibility of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs to no avail. Do you think this is a new product firmware issue or a bad unit?

  16. Brian White

    Have you tried a new HDMI cable? I had this very same issue with my Samsung player last year. I was trying to take audio separately out of it to an older Onkyo and I had to use an older HDMI 1.3 cable as my receiver had zero audio when using a v1.4 cable. If that does not work, I would take it back and try a different unit as this one could be defective.

  17. Brian White

    I have not had this problem. Did you try another HDMI cable? Is it v1.4 certified, HDCP 2.2 for “4K playback”? Have you tried hooking up to other inputs on the TV you are connecting to? If all of those have been checked I would first contact Sony support to see what they say and possibly swap out for a non-defective unit.

  18. Phil

    I experienced the weird color issue once when using a Roku Ultra set to output 4K into a receiver which only supported 1080p.

    If you are using a receiver, make sure the receiver itself is 4K capable, and that the specific HDMI input you are connecting into also supports HDMI 2.0 (or HDMI 2.0a). On some receivers not all the HDMI ports support 4K.

    Also, you should get cables that support HDMI 2.0, not HDMI 1.4, if you want to get the most out of your 4K player. HDMI 1.4 cables limit 4K to 24 fps and do not support HDR, whereas HDMI 2.0 cables support 4K at 50/60 fps and HDR.

    You don’t need to spend a ton of money on fancy gold plated cables, but you do need to make sure that the cables have the necessary bandwidth to properly display all the different types of 4K content.

  19. Andy Lytle

    Thanks for the suggestions. After “chatting” with Sony tech support and doing the usual unplug for 60 seconds and resetting to factory defaults (with no improvement) I decided to try removing my Marantz receiver from the equation. I hooked up the player to my Sony Bravia TV (awesome tv btw) and since I had reset the settings back to default, the setup screen said to change my HDMI input settings on my tv from standard to enhanced. That did the trick. Now back to John Wick taking out the bad guys.

  20. Brian White

    @Andy glad to hear you got it working. I have heard of so many issues going to receiver first that I just automatically always take video to TV first and run audio separately to receiver.

    @Phil you are correct I meant to say HDMI 2.0 but for some reason had 1.4 on the brain. Grr. Thanks for the correction here!

  21. High Fidelity

    How do you know the Oppo 203 is better, just because it costs more ?

  22. Brian White

    Because everyone tells me it is. All I ever hear is Oppo, Oppo, Oppo. F that noise IMO. I’ll take a mid price Sony any day over spending $600 for something that only plays discs. However, that’s just me.

  23. Joe

    Sony ubp-x800, oppo, Panasonic dmp-ub700
    oppo,Sony ubp-x800, Panasonic dmp-ub700
    Panasonic dmp-ub700,Sony ubp-x800,oppo.
    What will be the the correct top three if we forget the money?

  24. Brian White

    If you have the money from the research I did and what I know I’d say in this order: Oppo, Panasonic dmp-ub700,Sony ubp-x800

  25. Eitan

    Hi Brian – To this comment, “For the life of me though I don’t know why for Suicide Squad it only shows the Dolby True HD surround track instead of the Dolby Atmos one my receiver is really seeing and pumping out.”

    The reason is that Atmos is carried in a Dolby TrueHD bitstream container. The player doesn’t decode the audio so it doesn’t know that there’s Atmos metadata in there, it only knows that it’s reading a Dolby TrueHD track on the disc and sending it downstream to a processor to decode.

  26. Brian White

    @Eitan thanks for keeping me honest. I remember writing that and I was like duh yeah, but never went back to fix my mistake, but yes you’re 100% right!

  27. Bob

    Do music cd’s sound better on the Sony x800 or the samsung k8500? Too bad neither one have analog connections.

  28. Brian White

    What’s a music CD? Ha ha. I’m just kidding. I honestly have yet to try one on either system.

  29. Flemming Larsen

    Hi.
    I have bought this player yesterday, and can just not play it with Atmos. My old Panasonic Blu-ray player played it perfect. Can you tell me what to do?
    Regards
    Flemming
    Denmark.

  30. Brian White

    Easy. It’s on page 22 of the enclosed manual with the player.

    x [BD Audio MIX Setting]
    [On]: Outputs the audio obtained by mixing the interactive and secondary audio to the primary audio.
    [Off]: Outputs the primary audio only. Select this to output Bitstream (Dolby/DTS) signals to an AV amplifier (receiver).

    To enjoy Bitstream (Dolby/DTS) signals, set [BD Audio MIX Setting] to [Off] and [Digital Audio Output] to [Auto].

    This will get you Atmos on your receiver.

  31. Scott Ingram

    Thank you Brian White, that worked for me!

  32. Scott

    Maybe the reason it’s displaying 7.1 Dolby True HD during playback and not Atmos(like the amp. is pumping out), is because Atmos is 7.1 Dolby with a bunch of other audio stuff added/layered/mixed into it?