What is the UHP-H1?
Design, Connections & Control
User Interface, Apps & Features
4K ScalingSince the video processing capabilities of the UHP-H1, and specifically the Ultra HD scaling, are some of the key selling points, we started by testing this out first in comparison to Samsung’s ‘real’ Ultra HD Player, the UBD-K8500. Differences are marginal between the two and would be best described as different rather than better, one way or the other, with both doing an excellent job although perhaps the Sony was a little less sharp but also less processed looking. We are talking about an examination at very close quarters, however, and you would be unlikely to see any difference at normal viewing distances. Compared to a 4K Ultra HD TV, the performance from 1080p sources was again very similar from the player but at lesser resolutions, the UHP-H1 is that bit more accomplished, particularly with DVD content where a well mastered title, especially one that’s animated, could look really good.
Blu-ray PlaybackRegardless of the cost, we expect nothing less than faultless playback when it comes to Blu-ray disc so it would be something of a headline grabber, were this high-end player to produce anything but pristine images; and that’s precisely what it did with both 2D and 3D titles, although you need to make sure you’ve entered the correct screen size to match your TV to make 3D have the right depth. With that done, performance was perfect with no unnecessary processing, colour issues or noise reduction going on.
Standard Definition playbackIt’s here that the opportunity for a player's processing abilities has a better chance of showing its mettle, although we can’t really remember the last time we actively chose to watch a DVD – it’s two generations out of date now, after all. Still, if you have any old discs laying around that you’ve either not replaced with the Blu-ray or UHD Blu-ray, then you can rest assured the UHP-H1 will deliver just about as well as you could possibly expect. In fact, performance is comparable to Sony’s highest-end TVs in this department thanks to superb scaling and deinterlacing.
Streaming QualityIt’s a real pity – some would say a missed opportunity – that the UHP-H1 doesn’t possess HEVC decoding capabilities as it would then be compatible with the likes of Amazon and Netflix’s Ultra HD streaming services. As it is, you are limited to a maximum of 1080p but it performs impressively with these sources. As we mentioned earlier, the UHP-H1 can detect and play 24/23.976p content correctly from all sources – including video streaming ones – and it really helps maintain the filmic quality of the material. Unfortunately, it’s not able to do this with 25 or 50 frames per second material so this isn't as optimally displayed.
The UHP-H1 also integrates with Sony’s multi-room audio range of speakers over your home network, allowing you to stream CDs, networked files and music services around the home. Additionally, the inclusion of Bluetooth LDAC allows the player to directly connect to Bluetooth headphones and speakers which is a very useful feature in terms of cutting down on wires and/or listening late at night from a distance the typical headphone cable wouldn’t stretch to. The UHP-H1 also boasts Hi-res audio playback of FLAC, ALAC, DSD (DSDIFF/DSF) and AIFF at up to 24-bit/192kHz over USB and lesser sampling rates from other sources.
- Faultless disc playback
- Great audio performance
- Good range of apps with 24p support
- Very quiet in use and well-built
- No Ultra HD Blu-ray support
- No UHD streaming services
- Limited appeal
Sony UHP-H1 Blu-ray Player Review
Should I buy one?You would have to be specifically looking at the very niche area of Hi-Res audio playback to even consider the Sony UHP-H1 as a purchase. It does feature very good build quality, excellent replay of DVD and both 2D and 3D Blu-ray disc and a range of important streaming services, to boot, but then you can get all that from a player priced considerably less. The same can be said for the ability to decode HD audio formats, including DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD but at least, unlike the lesser-priced Sony range, it can do it. The big stumbling block with the UHP-H1 is its inability to play Ultra HD Blu-ray or play UHD content from the streaming services when, for very similar money, there are players on the market that will provide that degree of future-proofing. We can recommend the Sony UHP-H1 on the basis that it doesn’t really put a foot wrong, in terms of the advertised features, but if you don’t need the Hi-Res audio or SACD playback, your money is better spent elsewhere.
What else is there?The obvious candidate in this price bracket is the Samsung UBD-K8500 which is at least as good a disc spinner but adds in Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDR capability as well as the 4K streaming services. It’s not quite so capable in the audio department, however, but still features multiroom integration and decent CD and Bluetooth playback. For something that ticks all the same boxes as the Samsung and matches the audio performance of the Sony, we would have to point you in the direction of the Panasonic DMP-UB900 although there’s a £200 premium on top of the cost of the UHP-H1 for that one.
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