Once you made the jump to that amazing new 4K TV, you may have asked yourself how can you best take advantage of it? There is not a lot of 4K content available through Canadian cable providers. Streaming services have some 4K content but you need an incredibly fast internet connection and you will pay more for your premium account. Even your trusty Blu-Ray player can’t take advantage of everything the new screen offers. Enter Sony’s 3D 4K Ultra HD Wi-Fi Blu-ray player the UBP-X700. More than just a mouthful to say, The Sony 4K UBP-X700 Blu-ray player is an incredibly affordable method to watch movies and stream content in a way that takes full advantage of what your 4K television is capable of.
It’s Not Your Grandfather’s DVD Player
The Sony UBP-X700 is so very wee but is capable of so many big things. I still have an old LaserDisc Player (I’m a collector, not a hoarder. Honest) and it couldn’t dream of doing 99% of what the UBP-X700 does yet it was three times the size and close to ten times the weight. This Sony sits under 2 inches tall, is only 12 inches wide, and weighs a mere 3 pounds. There will never be an issue trying to fit this unit into any system or cabinet.
Often times, and as frustrating as it is, when you upgrade your tech you are left with things that aren’t compatible anymore and for the most part become useless. One of the greatest features of the UBP-X700 is that it can play almost any format of digital audio or video that you can throw at it. The fairly recent 4K Blu-ray UHD discs? Check. 3D Blu-ray discs? Check Regular Blu-ray? Of course. DVD? CDs? Yes and Yes. Heck, it will even play a Super Audio CD. Go ahead and Google it. I had to. And it will play more. Much more.
The Sony UBP-X700 Blu-ray player is an amazing minimalist aesthetic that thrives in its simplicity. The front panel only has a power and an eject button with a USB port below. The front face and a slight strip at the front of the top are in a deep gloss black that suddenly becomes a nice matte finish. The gloss is highly reflective and screams glamour whereas the muted flat black body is understated and suggests ruggedness. The two work in symbiotic unison. Unlike my other home electronics that have red or blue lights that can light a room and ruin sleep, the UBP-X700 has the slightest of green lights to let you know it is on.
The back of the unit features the power jack, an ethernet jack, a digital coaxial out, and 2 HDMI outputs. That’s it. No cable coax pass through. No component or composite cable inputs or outputs. No DVI. Nothing else.
The only way you can connect this unit to your system is through an HDMI cable. HDMI output 1 is your regular out to the TV and HDMI output 2 is an audio-only output that can connect to a 4K receiver if you have one. Also, ensure the cable is at least 18 Gbps so it can handle 4K video and audio. I don’t so I tried my setup two ways. HDMI to my TV and digital optical out to my receiver. Also did a test with the digital output of the UBP-X700 to my receiver. Both worked with no issues. I believe that the output from the Sony UBP-X700 would have been a much better quality than that from my TV but it wasn’t immediately discernible. I need a new receiver.
UPDATE – It has been 5 days since I wrote that and in that time I concluded, after research and practical application, that in order to realize all of the capabilities of the UBP-X700, I did, in fact, need a new receiver. I checked the Best Buy Canada website and saw a few amazing deals. I ran down to my local Best Buy and grabbed a Denon 4K receiver that was such a deal it would have been a bad financial decision not to purchase it. I don’t think my wife is buying that though. And for the record, the output was better through the UBP-X700 than from the TV with both audio and video quality. Netflix through the unit supports Dolby Vision as does my new receiver.
As the blog was mostly written while I still had my old receiver with no HDMI capabilities, I have gone through and updated or added in my newer thoughts where appropriate. I will say that as great as the audio and video were before the new receiver, there is almost no comparison with the image and sound I have now. Truly amazing and is the way that these technologies were meant to be engaged.
Set up Was a Breeze
It couldn’t have been any easier to get the Sony UBP-X700 running. I plugged the power cable into the player and into the power bar. I ran my HDMI cable out to my TV. Now, on my TV I have 4 HDMI inputs and while they will all play 4K content, only HDMI input 1 is full HDMI 2.0 which will allow the UBP-X700 function at full capacity as it were. So, while I did originally set up by plugging into HDMI 4 after I changed it to input 1, it was better quality. I would suggest that if you are unsure to look through your television’s manual and see if there is a similar situation as it will affect the quality of your Sony UBP-X700’s playback. Since updating my receiver this has become moot as I pass all of my component’s HDMI through Denon and only have 1 HDMI output so it gets the HDMI 2.0 input and services all of my tech. Less cable mess as well.
After getting it all plugged in and turned on, I connected the unit to my home Wi-Fi and it auto updated the software which took a couple of minutes. I later ran an ethernet cable to hardwire the player to ensure I had the best speeds possible for streaming content. When it was done, it took me to the central menu for the player. From this menu, I have the option of using one of the streaming apps to watch content or to watch whatever disc is in the player. Navigation is easy with the included remote and also gives you the opportunity to access the setup section to change or tweak some settings or to do a firmware update.
Using the Sony UBP-X700 as a Streaming Player
So, in addition to its “primary” function as a 4K UHD and/or 3D Blu-ray disc player (along with the multitude of other playable discs or file formats) the Sony UBP-X700 is also a streaming player. Connecting to either your home network via Wi-Fi or if possible with an ethernet cable, the Sony UBP-X700 has built-in apps that will stream content for you and can be found on the unit’s Home Page. I will be honest and say that the menu interface itself looks quite clunky and unimpressive but if you can overlook that, then the quality will make you a fan.
While it does seem to be missing major app players, especially in Canada, it does have Netflix and YouTube as well as YouTube Kids, MLB.tv, MUBI, TUBI, Spotify, Slacker Radio, Action Cam YouTube channel, Berliner Philharmoniker, USB file player, Media Server (for example Plex), and Miracast screen mirroring for Samsung and Sony devices. If you are an Apple device person, like me, then you can’t screen mirror from your mobile device and lose access to an important tool for modern mobile streaming. The apps clearly missing are Crave and Amazon video not to mention some sporting apps like DAZN, TSN, or SportsNet.
As far as the quality of the Netflix stream, simply amazing. Dolby Vision is breathtaking on the programs that have it but even the regular Ultra HD 4K films and shows look and sound astounding. As you will see in the accompanying video, watching Planet Earth 2 is just jaw-dropping. Even the playing of non-4K content, via disc or USB file, is significant with Sony’s upscaling. With a few exceptions, and based entirely on quality of the original content, looked very good with little grain or residue. Now, watching a standard definition DVD that is upscaled gives you a picture that is impressive but it is also obvious that you aren’t watching footage shot and rendered in 4K either. It does, however, breathe some life into those older DVDs though.
Using the Sony UBP-X700 as a Blu-ray Player
Whether playing streaming content from Netflix or playing a disc, as an entry-level 4K Blu-ray player, the audio and video are outstanding. I did find that when I initially started to watch Mama Mia for the first time that the colours were really saturated and overpowering. I ran a quick calibration of my TV and that did the trick. Now the Blu-rays and the Netflix streams are crisp and colourful and impressive. Both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are onboard so you should be able to watch HDR content despite the make or model of your 4K TV or receiver.
The detail and colours that were delivered were remarkably realistic and natural. With only Mama Mia to judge the 4K Blu-Ray quality by, I was impressed and wish I had a new Marvel movie to watch in 4K Blu-ray to really see how this worked when put to the test. If the Netflix quality is any indication, it will work just fine. After adjusting the colours on my TV, because they were initially saturated, I ended up with great skin tones and amazingly dark blacks. Bottom line, everything was better. Much better than it was before.
As good as 4K streaming is, you can’t yet beat a movie played from a disc. The Sony UBP-X700 allows you to economically enter this realm and enjoy 4K Ultra High Definition content. The X700 is the newer version of 2017’s 800 model and while not built as solidly as the X800 feels to be built, the X700 is cheaper and offers Dolby Vision compatibility which the X800 does not. It can handle any content you throw at it and impressively so. If you aren’t sure about getting into another “disc player”, rest assured that the Sony 4K UBP-X700 Blu-ray player is more than that with streaming and media server capabilities to assuage those fears. So stop by your local Best Buy store and see if it meets your needs and, happy shopping!