If you've been salivating over the prospect of purchasing some disc-based 4K content, it looks like your dream can become a reality very soon. Samsung's UBD-K8500 4K Blu-ray player was expected to land at the end of the month, but it seems some retailers have received stock early, and better still, have begun selling it.
One such retailer is Video & Audio Center, in Santa Monica, California. The store made a post to Facebook yesterday about availability of the player, and later, someone posted to say that they were already gone, with another shipment expected in 10 days. Who knew there'd be big demand for such high-res content?
Admittedly, the rollout of 4K Blu-ray has been stalled up to this point. In fact, the rollout being slow is the thing that makes it odd. Samsung's player here didn't have a large volume release, but instead seems to be trickling out, with consumers totally oblivious to which retailers or etailers are going to be getting them in. Beyond that, anyone who purchases a 4K Blu-ray player today is going to have to really enjoy the rather limited content selection that's currently available.
For a few years, some Blu-ray movies have been released in a "4K Remastered" version, which has undoubtedly misled many to believe that they were purchasing legitimate 4K content. Instead, 4K Remastered simply means that the movie is downscaled from a 4K source down to 1080p. This increases the crispness of the film, but it's not true 4K.
It's not hard to spot the real 4K Blu-ray content, as the movies come in slick black packaging, rather than the standard blue. As you might expect, these 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs carry a bit of a price premium, with Matt Damon's The Martian demanding about $30.
The Martian seems to be treated as some sort of gold standard where 4K Blu-ray video is concerned, so it's not hard to find. If you want to seek out other content, you'll have to exercise your ninja shopping skills, as most etailers, including Amazon, don't seem to separate 4K Blu-ray from the rest. That said, here are some current and forthcoming 4K Blu-ray releases we were able to find, all of which are slated to come out on March 1:
- Ender's Game
- Exodus: Gods and Kings
- Fantastic Four
- Hitman: Agent 47
- Kingsman: The Secret Service
- Life of Pi
- Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
- The Amazing Spiderman 2
- The Expendables 3
- The Last Witch Hunter
- The Maze Runner
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
That's a decent list for just starting out, but one would hope to see it dramatically improve as the year goes on. This assumes that folks are going to jump right on this. A 4K TV is of course required, and so too is the actual player. Fortunately, Samsung's UBD-K8500 costs just $399, so it's not outside the reach of most people. You're still going to have to really want 4K content even still though.
Regardless, it's great to finally have the product available. Or at least almost available.