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Panasonic DMP-UB900 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review

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The enthusiast's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player

by Steve Withers Apr 16, 2016 at 9:41 AM

  • SRP: £599.00

    What is the Panasonic DMP-UB900?

    The Panasonic DMP-UB900 is the company's first Ultra HD Blu-ray player and arrives hot on the heels of Samsung's UBD-K8500 4K disc spinner. Unlike the Samsung player, which has greater mass-market appeal, Panasonic are clearly aiming their model squarely at the audio and video enthusiast. To emphasise this point the player not only handles 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Full HD Blu-ray (both 2D and 3D), DVD and CD but it also boasts audiophile components and even separate stereo and 7.1-channel analogue outputs. In addition there are twin HDMI outputs in case your soundbar or receiver doesn't support HDMI 2.0a or HDCP 2.2, along with built-in WiFi and a full remote control with a backlight. In terms of other features the UB900 supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) but it can also down-convert HDR to Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) if you have a non-HDR 4K TV.

    The Panasonic supports 4K High Precision Chroma Processing, Direct Chroma Upscaling and up to 4K 60p/4:4:4 output. The smart platform includes various 4K video streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, allowing you to use the player as a single Ultra HD video source. The UB900 is the first product to be certified as a '4K Source' by THX and the first player to be officially certified Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. In terms of audio the player supports High Res Audio and includes High Clarity Sound Premium, making it a high quality source for all your music. The UB900 retails for around £599 as at the time of writing (April 2016) and comes with two complimentary Ultra HD Blu-rays (Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas), as well an 18Gbps HDMI cable. So let's see if the UB900 does enough to satisfy the demands of the AV enthusiast and justify it's price premium.

    What is 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray?

    If you're wondering what Ultra HD Blu-ray is and how it differs from regular Blu-ray, it is essentially a 4K extension of the existing Full HD disc format that can deliver an increased resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The new format also allows for 10-bit video, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) of up to Rec.2020 and a higher bit rate of up to 100Mbps. In addition it also includes support for HEVC encoding, HDCP 2.2 copy protection, HDMI 2.0a and High Dynamic Range (HDR). There is no support for 3D within the Ultra HD Blu-ray specifications, primarily because 3D films aren't even finished in 4K for the cinema. The Ultra HD Blu-ray discs themselves have a capacity of 66GB and 100GB of data on dual and triple layer discs respectively and the good news for film fans is that the format will not use regional coding.

    The arrival of a new 4K Ultra HD disc format has resulted in THX creating a new certification programme called '4K Source'. The UB900 is the first player to be certified under the new programme but since this is THX the requirements and tests are all proprietary. The Panasonic is also the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player to be officially certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. The requirements for an Ultra HD Premium Blu-ray player are public knowledge and essentially the player must be able to deliver an image resolution of 3840 x 2160, a minimum 10-bit colour depth, Rec.2020 colour representation and high dynamic range using the SMPTE ST2084 EOTF. Although the UB900 is the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player to be awarded Ultra HD Premium certification, based on the criteria we see no reason why the Samsung UBD-K8500 player wouldn't also qualify.

    Design & Connections

    Panasonic have gone for a very traditional design when it comes to the UB900 and in fact it doesn't look dissimilar to other high-end Blu-ray players in their product range. So we get what essentially looks like a glossy black rectangular box, with a brushed metal finish on the top and a mirrored drop-down panel at the front. The UB900 certainly looks like a premium product but the sleek curves of Samsung's K8500 are growing on us and they do actually make that player look more 21st century and cutting edge. The UB900 itself measures 435 x 68 x 199mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 2.4kg.

    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    The build quality is very good, although in reality not that superior to the K8500, which is actually better made than it appears in photos. The UB900 certainly doesn't have the kind of heavy duty construction that you would get from an Oppo for example. However where the UB900 does have the edge over the K8500 is in terms of operation, where it's much quieter. The front flap drops down and the disc tray pops out smoothly and quietly, whilst there's no apparent fan noise. There does appear to be a fan in the back of the UB900 but from what we can tell (and hear) it's whisper quiet.
    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    As far as the front panel is concerned it's a very minimalist affair and all you can actually see is the display and two touch sensitive buttons in the top right hand corner for eject and power on/off. That's it and everything else is behind the mirrored drop-down flap, which you can either pull down or it drops down automatically when the disc tray comes out. Behind the drop down flap you'll find the disc tray on the left hand side and in the middle there's the display and beneath that an SD card slot and a USB port.

    The UB900 goes for a very traditional design, with an attractive finish and excellent build quality.

    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    Unlike the Samsung, the UB900 does have a display but the dot matrix read-out is very basic and Panasonic actually recommend turning it off in the interests of audio purity. We generally turn off the displays on players and other devices anyway because we find the light distracting in our pitch black home cinema. However even if you don't turn it off, you won't find yourself looking at the display very often because the on-screen information is excellent. When you press the info button the player tells you what it's receiving in terms of video (resolution, colour space, HDR, bit depth, codec and bit rate) and audio (format, channels, sampling rate and bit rate) and also exactly what the player is outputting in terms of video and audio. It's highly informative and we found it incredibly useful during the review.
    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    Aside from the SD card slot and USB port on the front, all the other connections are at the rear. Just like the K8500, the Panasonic includes two gold-plated HDMI outputs, the first of which is HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and it supports both video and audio. This is the HDMI output you use to connect directly to your suitably equipped display or AV receiver. If however your receiver or soundbar doesn't support HDMI 2.0a or HDCP 2.2, then you can use the second output for the audio. Panasonic actually recommend using the main HDMI output for video and the secondary HDMI output for sound in order to improve the overall audio fidelity.

    However from a practicality perspective it is probably easier to just connect the player directly to your AV receiver or display if they support HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2. Although the second HDMI output is marked as Audio Out, you can in fact connect it to a 1080p device such as a projector and output video to it, whilst using the digital or analogue outputs for the audio instead. This means you could run both a 4K TV and a 1080p projector from the UB900, however you can't output video to both connected displays simultaneously.

    The UB900 has optical and coaxial digital outputs, as well as an Ethernet port, although the player also has built-in WiFi. Panasonic's emphasis on the audiophile capabilities of the player is evidenced by the presence of dedicated stereo analogue outputs using gold-plated RCA connectors. Perhaps more unusually these days there are also 7.1-channel analogue outputs, which again use gold-plated RCA connectors. We're not sure who really uses seven channel analogue outputs these days and we think people are more likely to use the HDMI outputs but you do at least have the option. Finally at the rear of the player is the connector for the provided three-pin power cable.

    Control & Interface

    The UB900 is relatively easy to setup and configure, although it certainly has plenty of additional features and controls if you're the kind of person who likes to tweak the performance of their player. The provided remote control is excellent and includes all the buttons you need in an intuitive layout. The remote itself is made of black plastic and is fairly large, proving comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. It also has a backlight which is very useful when it comes to using the controller in a darkened home cinema or your lounge at night.

    The provided remote is well designed and includes a backlight, whilst the setup is very flexible.

    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    The setup of the UB900 is fairly straightforward and the majority of key controls default to their automatic setting. This means that the player can detect the capabilities of your display and adjust itself accordingly. The menu system is broken down into a series of sub-headings, the first of which relates to the HDMI outputs. All the basic options default to their automatic settings but, depending on the capabilities of your display, you can set 4K (50p/60p) Output to either 4:2:0 or 4:4:4. Under the Advanced Settings you'll find controls for Colour Mode, Deep Colour Output and High Dynamic Range, all of which also default to to their automatic settings. In general you really don't need to change many settings when configuring the UB900 and it will do most things for you, unless of course you want to fine tune the settings to match your display.

    The Picture Settings menu is where you can find additional controls for Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Colour and Luminance. In general we would leave these controls at zero but there is another control called Dynamic Range Conversion Adjustment that some people might find useful. If you have a non-HDR TV the UB900 will automatically down-convert HDR content to SDR and assume the TV has a peak brightness of around 300 nits, However if you actually know the peak brightness of your TV, then you can use the Dynamic Range Conversion Adjustment control to move between a range which, although it actually doesn't say it, goes from 100 to 1000 nits. To get the best results you would really need a suitable test pattern but this control is a good example of the kind of functionality available if you like to tweak your player.
    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    That same level of functionality also applies to the audio side of things, although once again if you just want the player to configure itself automatically then it can. Depending on how you have the HDMI outputs connected, the player can configure itself accordingly. Naturally if you want to use the analogue outputs then there is more setup involved but the menu system takes you through the process and the entire menu system has helpful text that explains the exact purpose of each control. Whilst the player does include a number of sound effects, we would generally not use them because we prefer a player to just output exactly what is on the disc.

    However there are features such as Dynamic Range Compression and Audio Delay that you might want to use and don't forget to make sure the BD-Video Secondary Audio is off if you plan on bit streaming Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The UB900 includes a feature called High Clarity Sound and this allows you to switch off unnecessary circuits for improved audio fidelity. So for example if you are using the HDMI outputs you can switch off the digital and analogue outputs and also the display if you like. Conversely if you are using the analogue outputs, you can switch off just about everything else including the display, thus ensuring the purity of the audio signal.

    Features & Specs

    The main feature when it comes to the UB900 is obviously its ability to playback Ultra HD Blu-rays and this means that it supports a resolution of 3840 x 2160, as well as the HEVC codec, 10-bit video, Rec.2020 and HDR 10. In the case of the Panasonic it also includes 4K High Precision Chroma Processing, Direct Chroma Upscaling and up to 4K 60p/4:4:4 output. Other key features include High Clarity Sound Premium and High Res Audio support, whilst the UB900 also has built-in WiFi and support for 4K streaming. There are twin HDMI outputs, dedicated two channel analogue outputs and separate 7.1-channel analogue outputs, all using gold-plated connectors.

    There is a Pure Audio option on HDMI with low clock jitter processing, as well as 192kHz/32bit DACs and Digital Tube Sound. The Panasonic is also THX certified as a '4K Source' and certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance; whilst the inclusion of the main 4K streaming video services means that you can use the player as a single 4K video source. In fact the UB900 includes just about everything except support for Dolby Vision (another form of HDR) but since there is almost no content that uses it and very few displays that support it, we don't consider this to currently be an issue.
    Panasonic DMP-UB900 Features & Specs
    Panasonic DMP-UB900 Features & Specs

    The rather elegant home page allows you to access all the main features of the UB900. So for example if you want to watch video content you select Videos and then you can choose from an inserted disc or a connected USB device. The same goes for Music and Photos and if you want to stream content from your Home Network you can do with high quality network audio playback via DLNA.

    We found in testing that the UB900 streamed content from our home network very effectively and offered an extensive range of file support. In terms of video the UB900 can support HEVC, AVCHD, Xvid, MKV, MP4 and MPEG-2; in terms of audio it can handle FLAC (192kHz/24bit), WAV (192kHz/32bit), ALAC (192kHz/32bit), DSD (2.8MHz and 5.6MHz), WMA, AAC and MP3; whilst with photos it can accept JPEG and MPO.

    Finally under Network Services you will find all the apps and specifically the 4K video streaming services from Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. Unfortunately we weren't able to test the 4K capabilities of these apps because of limitations in our broadband speed but they worked extremely well with 1080p and we experienced no issues. Although the UB900 wasn't as impressive as the K8500, which automatically output video streaming services at the correct refresh rates, whilst the UB900 was restricted to 60Hz.

    The elegant home page provides support for 4K video streaming services from Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

    Picture Performance

    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Playback


    Although not the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player to arrive, the UB900 is probably the more anticipated due to its emphasis on high-end performance. We took the same approach to testing this player as we did with the K8500 and, as with that player, our initial impressions of Ultra HD Blu-ray were hugely impressive. The advent of a disc-based format that can deliver 4K resolution, 10-bit video, a wider colour space and high dynamic range is a quantum leap in terms of home entertainment image quality and forms part of a wider revolution in television technology. Ultra HD Blu-ray is capable of delivering an experience that can equal and in some respects surpass the cinema, ushering in a new age of home video that finally breaks free from standards developed decades ago.

    In terms of playback, the UB900 had absolutely no problems playing any of the 14 Ultra HD Blu-ray discs that we have amassed so far. From San Andreas to The Last Witch Hunter and The Amazing Spider-man 2 to Fantastic Four, the Panasonic took them all in its stride. We have deliberately bought a selection of discs from each of the studios that has released titles to date and the player handled them all with ease, producing lovely 4K images with 10-bit video depth, wonderfully realistic colours and a high dynamic range that gave the images genuine impact. We tested the UB900 on the Samsung UE55KS9000 and the JVC DLA-X5000, with the player impressing on both displays and showing just what Ultra HD Blu-ray is capable of with TVs and projectors.

    Since the KS9000 has a native resolution of 4K and can deliver the full 1,000 nits of peak brightness that the discs were mastered at, we used the TV for the majority of our testing. We were hugely impressed at the incredibly detailed images that the UB900 could deliver to the Samsung TV, as well as the wonderfully natural and saturated colours and incredibly dynamic pictures. There was more detail in the darker parts of the frame, as well as in the brighter parts, and because the highlights really popped the entire image had a greater sense of depth. The resulting pictures appeared more realistic, with colours and details that simply weren't apparent on the normal Blu-ray, even for films that were only finished in 2K.

    We would expect any Ultra HD Blu-ray player to be able to deliver all the new features found on a UHD Blu-ray, especially one that has been certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. However we can be sure that THX certification also ensures that the UB900 performs optimally and adhere's to the standards, thus producing the most accurate images possible. The UB900 had no problems automatically detecting a display's native capabilities and optimising its output accordingly. Although the X5000 supports HDR, since it's a projector it is obviously nowhere near as bright as the KS9000. However the UB900 performed extremely well with the JVC and the projector mapped the signal from the player with surprising effectiveness, resulting in some impressive images.

    Of course not all 4K displays support HDR and if that is the case, the UB900 can automatically down-convert the HDR signal to SDR; although you also have the option to turn off HDR entirely. In tests that we have seen, the Panasonic managed do do this with a surprising level of accuracy, ensuring that the blacks were not crushed and the whites weren't clipped. Panasonic claim that this success is due to their using a linear RGB signal when converting the HDR PQ to a gamma curve. As mentioned previously the UB900 also has the Dynamic Range Conversion Adjustment control, that allows you to optimise the conversion range to suit the peak brightness of your non-HDR TV. Depending on the TV, the Panasonic can convert HDR to 4K/SDR/BT.709 and FHD/SDR/BT.709.

    Finally the UB900 also includes 4K high-precision chroma processing which can take the Ultra HD Blu-ray encoded at 4:2:0 and use a 4K high-precision multi-tap filter to process the signal to 4:4:4. The player also uses edge-adaptive chroma processing to prevent overshooting during the processing and thus produce sharper edges with colours. The result was that the Panasonic delivered superb 4K Ultra HD images that really showed the full potential of the new format. There's no doubt that when it comes to the video capabilities of the UB900, Panasonic have achieved their goal of creating an Ultra HD Blu-ray player that can meet the exacting standards of even the most demanding AV enthusiast and videophile.


    4K Upscaling


    When it comes to setting up the UB900 you have the choice of upscaling lower resolution content to 4K in the player itself or in the display but it is probably easiest just to let the player handle all the upscaling and send a 4K signal straight to your TV or projector. The player offers the choice of the following Video Format options - Automatic, 576p/480p, 1080i, 1080p or 4K. If you choose Automatic, the UB900 will upscale all lower resolution content to the Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, thus matching the native resolution your 4K display. The Panasonic also includes 4K direct chroma upscaling which can take Full HD Blu-ray or 1080p video streaming services and, using a high-precision multi-tap filter, take the Full HD 4:2:0 signal and upscale it to 4K/4:4:4.

    We tested the upscaling of the player with high definition content from regular Blu-rays and from video steaming services, as well as standard definition content from DVD. Overall the UB900 proved to be a very capable performer but that doesn't come as a surprise, Panasonic have been delivering superb video processing for years. As a result the player handled high definition content exceptionally well, delivering upscaled images that were detailed and free of unwanted artefacts. The player also managed to upscale DVDs effectively, which is even more impressive when you consider the processing is turning just over 400,000 pixels into over 8,000,000 pixels!

    Blu-ray Playback


    Although the UB900 is primarily an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the chances are that the majority of your disc-based viewing will remain Full HD Blu-ray for quite a while. So it's important that the Panasonic is an effective regular Blu-ray player, which means it should be able to take what is on the disc and deliver it precisely to the display. We tested the UB900 with our usual selection of 2D and 3D Blu-rays and the Panasonic played all the discs with ease, delivering great looking images that were detailed and judder-free. As mentioned in the previous section the 4K upscaling was excellent, so as a result the player was able to take the images and deliver every pixel with precision and without introducing scaling artefacts. We used a number of recent 2D Blu-ray releases during the review, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Crimson Peak and the results were impressive. We also tried The Walk and The Good Dinosaur in 3D, which the Panasonic handled perfectly without introducing any issues. Ultimately the UB900 proved to be an excellent 2D and 3D Blu-ray player.

    Standard Definition Playback


    It might seem strange for someone to buy an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and then watch DVDs on it but people still have large libraries of DVDs and there might be something that is only available on standard definition disc. If that is the case you'll be glad to know that the UB900 was an effective performer in this area and it had no problems playing both PAL and NTSC DVDs. The player exhibited excellent deinterlacing and cadence detection, with the interlaced signals being handled well regardless of whether it was film or video based or even a mixture of the two. In terms of motion there were no problems with our test discs, which appeared free of unwanted judder or other issues. As we mentioned in the previous section on 4K upscaling, the player was also able to take a deinterlaced standard definition signal and upscale it with real precision, resulting images that were free of unwanted artefacts and actually quite watchable.

    Panasonic DMP-UB900 Video Review


    Sound Performance

    The UB900 is designed to offer a superior sound experience that is intended to set it apart from the competition and as such it offers analogue outputs, audiophile components and high quality 192kHz/32bit DACs (Digital-to-Analogue Converters). The Panasonic has dedicated two-channel analogue outputs that use gold-plated RCA connectors and in testing we did find the sound quality produced to be impressive for a Blu-ray player. It would certainly work well as a two channel analogue source if that was a feature that interested you. The UB900 supports just about every file type that you can think of and that includes High Res audio, making it a superior music source regardless of whether you're using the analogue or digital outputs.

    The UB900 also has separate 7.1-channel analogue outputs that again use gold-plated RCA connectors, allowing the player to do all the decoding and processing if your amplifier or receiver isn't capable. To be honest we're not sure how many people would use the 7.1-channel analogue outputs these days and it seems more likely that the majority of users will choose the HDMI outputs instead. However if you're looking for an Ultra HD Blu-ray player that has 7.1-channel analogue outputs then Panasonic's UB900 is currently the only game in town. We weren't able to test the 7.1-channel analogue capabilities of the player but the excellent menu system does at least take you through the process of setting it up in an intuitive and easy-to-follow manner.

    Whilst the 7.1-channel outputs might not get much use, the twin HDMI outputs are very useful and vital if you have a soundbar or AV receiver that doesn't support HDMI 2.0a or HDCP 2.2. The UB900 is able to detect how it is connected and configure itself accordingly, although Panasonic actually recommend sending the video to your display via the main HDMI output and your audio to your receiver via the secondary HDMI output. They claim this will improve the sound quality, although when we tried this setup we couldn't really hear any difference when compared to just using the main HDMI output. In addition the UB900 includes a low clock jitter process over HDMI that is also designed to improve the sound quality, whilst the High Clarity Sound Premium feature allows you to turn off circuits that aren't being used, as well as the display, in order to improve the audio fidelity still further.

    Whilst we weren't totally convinced that any of these features made a perceivable difference to the audio quality, especially when it comes to a digital signal, the UB900 is certainly a great sounding player. It handled all the film soundtracks we tried with ease, including both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as the new immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D. The Panasonic also dealt with any audio files that we sent it very effectively, resulting in a player that proved to be highly competent audio source. There are a series of sound effects including a number that are designed to emulate the sound of a vacuum tube amplifier but, as a rule, we avoid this kind of sound processing, although you might have fun experimenting with the different effects. Ultimately the UB900 is a very capable and extremely high quality audio source that is sure to please even the most demanding of AV enthusiasts.

    Disc Loading & Energy Consumption

    As we would expect from a modern Blu-ray player the UB900 proved to be reasonably quick when it came to booting up and loading discs, although the K8500 was a touch faster. The Panasonic was on and showing its home page within 10 seconds of pressing the power button and a regular Blu-ray was loaded within 25 seconds and an Ultra HD Blu-ray within 45 seconds, whilst a DVD was playing within about 5 seconds. The disc navigation was reasonably quick and responsive, whilst the player itself was pleasingly quiet in operation. The power consumption was also suitably efficient, with the player drawing 0.2W in standby, 23W when idle and 26W when actually playing a disc.

    Panasonic DMP-UB900
    The UB900 is a class act, delivering the best that modern video and audio currently has to offer.

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Perfect playback
    • Excellent 4K upscaling
    • THX certification
    • Impressive audio
    • Twin HDMI outputs
    • Extensive features
    • Attractive design
    • Lovely build quality

    Cons

    • No Dolby Vision support
    You own this Total 20
    You want this Total 16
    You had this Total 0

    Panasonic DMP-UB900 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review

    Should I buy one?


    If you're looking for a high-end Ultra HD Blu-ray player that offers the best in both video and audio features, then the Panasonic DMP-UB900 should be at the top of your AV wish list. It is a state-of-the-art machine that allows you to enjoy the best sound and vision that modern technology can offer. Whilst Ultra HD Blu-ray may be in its infancy, the format delivers a level of performance that is a quantum leap above what has been possible before. The increase in resolution, the improved bit depth, the wider colour gamut and the higher dynamic range all combine to deliver a video experience that will simply stun you. If you want you can just leave the player to optimally configure itself but the UB900 also has plenty of flexibility in terms of setup, making it ideal for those who like to tweak the performance of their equipment.

    The Panasonic certainly delivered the goods in terms of video, not only as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player but also when it came to regular Blu-ray (both 2D and 3D) and DVD as well. The deinterlacing and 4K upscaling were excellent, whilst the high precision chroma processing and direct chroma upscaling also delivered impressive results. Since the UB900 supports all the main 4K video streaming services, it can also be a single source for all your Ultra HD content. The player has been developed to be equally as adept when it comes to audio, with twin HDMI outputs and both stereo and 7.1-channel analogue outputs. There are audiophile components, 192kHz/32bit DACs and high res audio support along with a number of features designed to ensure the UB900 can keep even the most demanding sound enthusiast happy.

    If all that wasn't enough you even get an attractive design, great build quality and an effective remote control. There's also an intuitive and very flexible menu system with some genuinely useful features including a very informative onscreen display. As the final cherries on an already very impressive cake, the UB900 has also been certified as a '4K Source' by THX and as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. Ultimately Panasonic set out to build an Ultra HD Blu-ray player aimed squarely at the AV enthusiast and whilst the DMP-UB900 may be more expensive than the competition, we certainly feel they have succeeded.

    What are my alternatives?


    At this moment in time there is only one alternative and that is Samsung's UBD-K8500, so the big question is which is better? To a certain extent that is going to come down to personal preference but in terms of Ultra HD Blu-ray playback there really is nothing between the two players. The same goes for Blu-ray and DVD playback, whilst both players also make excellent 4K video streaming sources; although the Samsung had the edge here. However the UB900 does edge the K8500 in certain other areas and whilst the Panasonic's design is more traditional and the build quality is better, the difference isn't as big as some might think and the K8500 actually looks more like a new piece of technology. The lack of a display on the K8500 isn't really a big deal and the one on the UB900 isn't much better but the Panasonic's on-screen display is brilliantly designed and very informative. The remote control on the UD900 is also better, whilst it is quieter in operation and doesn't suffer from a noisy fan.

    The K8500 is very much designed as a 'plug-and-play' device and, whilst the UB900 can also do that, it also has a greater degree of flexibility. In fact for the AV enthusiast it's a bit of a tweaker's delight with plenty of settings to optimise the performance to your specific display. The chroma up sampling is impressive on the UB900 and it is capable of a more precise and flexible approach to down-converting HDR to SDR. Whilst both players have twin HDMI outputs, the UB900 is clearly designed to deliver a superior audio performance, at least as far as analogue is concerned. However in the digital realm there really is very little between the two players and both will provide a fantastic performance over HDMI. Although there is currently very little content and hardly any capable displays, neither player supports Dolby Vision, so bear that in mind if you think it might be important to you.

    In terms of complimentary Ultra HD Blu-rays, the K8500 comes with a copy of The Martian and the UB900 comes with Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas. The UB900 is also £170 more expensive than the K8500, so whether you feel it is worth that premium will depend on how important a more flexible setup and audiophile components are to you. If you just want an Ultra HD Blu-ray player to plug into your TV via HDMI, then save the money and go for the Samsung UBD-K8500, it will do everything want and it will do it well. However if you're looking for something a bit more high-end, with analogue audio performance and plenty of setup features, then the Panasonic DMP-UB900 is the enthusiast's Ultra HD Blu-ray player of choice.


    The Rundown

    Picture Quality

    9

    Sound Quality

    9

    Features

    9

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Build Quality

    9

    Value For Money

    8

    Verdict

    9

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