Samsung has debuted the world's first ultra high-definition (UHD) Blu-ray player at IFA, the catchily titled UBS-K8500. Sporting a curved design to go along with the company's many curved TVs, the UBS-K8500 promises to play back movies at four times the resolution of standard Blu-ray discs, and with a colour palette that's 64 times larger (10-bit vs. 8-bit colour). Samsung's new UHD Blu-ray player will also support the new high dynamic range (HDR) standard via its HDMI 2.0a port.
Samsung didn't reveal the UBS-K8500's exact pricing or availability, only saying that it would be "less than $500" (~£400) when it launches in the US and Europe next year.
Some of the first content for UHD Blu-ray players will come courtesy of 20th Century Fox, which promises to launch several UHD Blu-rays for the launch of Samsung's players. Not only will new films get the UHD treatment, but there'll be some remastered back-catalogue stuff, too. Fox showed off the box art for one such film, the Colin Firth-led Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Similarly to how Blu-rays often come packed with a DVD or digital download key, it appears that Fox's UHD Blu-rays will also contain a regular Blu-ray disc, as well as a "Digital HD" version. Given that UHD Blu-rays won't be backwards compatible with existing players, that will be a useful inclusion for many.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray spec was finalised earlier this year by the Blu-ray Disc Association. Aside from higher resolution content, UHD Blu-rays will also offer 10-bit colour for much broader colour gamuts (16.7 million colours vs. 1.07 billion), and support for high frame rate content (4K at 60 FPS). The new UHD Blu-ray spec also has support for "object-based sound formats," such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
While UHD Blu-ray might be arriving a bit late for those who have already converted to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video—both of which now feature a growing variety of 4K content—UHD Blu-rays should have the upper hand when it comes to image quality. A dual-layer UHD Blu-ray (66GB) supports a maximum bitrate of 108Mbps, with 100GB triple layer disks going up to 128Mbps; 4K streams from Netflix usually max out at around 50-60Mbps.