Sony UBP-X800M2 UHD Blu-ray Player Review

Sony x800m2 blu ray review

Sony UBP-X800M2

3.5/5

The UBP-X800M2 is Sony’s second attempt at a mid-tier UHD disc player after the inability to diagnose random lock-up issues on the previous X800 model and adds Dolby Vision and DVD-Audio support this time around. The X800M2 has proven to be more reliable than its nearly identical predecessor.

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Today, we’re looking at the Sony UBP-X800M2. My first UHD disc player was, unfortunately, the Samsung UBD-K8500, which had an odd shape with its curved front to match their curved displays, and was also the first player to market in February 2016. I was not a fan of that player due to its tiny remote with tiny buttons, most of the smart apps were incompatible with the player, and frequent HDMI handshake issues. One year later, Sony entered the market with the UBP-X800, and I exchanged the Samsung for the Sony. For the most part, it was a step up. The Sony featured a very solid metal chassis compared to the plastic shell of the Samsung plus it would play SACD discs. 

That is not to say that the Sony didn’t have issues; it would randomly lock up when watching either a disc or using one of the built-in streaming apps, and the only way to temporarily fix the lockup was to unplug the power cord. Calls to Sony tech support were almost comical when the agent would say something like “that is the first I am hearing of this lockup issue” or “that is not a documented known issue” despite the fact that the number one complaint about that model was its random lockups. To make a long story short, after nearly two years of contacting Sony tech support and having Sony actually send out two engineers to my home to investigate the issue (and admitting they were unable to replicate the issue in their lab despite a large number of customer complaints), in the Spring of 2019, Sony replaced my X800 with the newer UBP-X800M2.

UBP-X800M2 front view

 

Does the UBP-X800M2 do it’s job?

At first glance, the two players are identical. Sony has used the same sturdy metal chassis on the X800M2 as they did on its predecessor, as well as the same remote. Even the connections on the back are the same: two HDMI ports, one for 2160p video and audio plus a second HDMI strictly for audio (for those with older non-HDCP 2.2 compliant receivers); a digital coax output; and an ethernet port. In the front, is a lone USB 2.0 port for file playback and firmware updates. The tray door is the same as well, taking up nearly the entire width of the unit even though the disc tray is the standard width of five inches. The on-screen user interface for the UBP-X800M2 is also nearly identical as well, with four large icons at the top for Disc, USB, Media Server, and Setup plus three streaming service apps at the bottom (Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube).

Setup is fairly simple – just follow the on-screen prompts and download any firmware updates. Once that is all done, just insert a UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, CD, SACD, or DVD-Audio disc. Video content discs will automatically load the main menu screen while audio discs (CD and SACD) will load a relatively blank screen that requires the user to press play on the remote to start the disc. Picture quality is exceptional, with decent 4K upscaling on DVDs and even better upscaling on Blu-ray discs. The player does offer decent but not great HDR to SDR conversion.

While I have experienced the occasional random player lockup on UHD discs, they are much less frequent with the UBP-X800M2 than they were on the previous model. In fact, I can’t remember the last time my player locked up on a UHD disc, and I don’t think it ever locked up while streaming, although to be honest, I rarely if ever stream anything on this player.

A nice feature on the player is the ability to connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones for nighttime viewing.

Sony UBP-X800M2 Rear view

While the Sony UBP-X800M2 is definitely the most solidly-built player in its price class, there are a few things to nitpick about.

First and foremost is the player’s inability to self-detect Dolby Vision content. Dolby Vision must be turned on from the setup menu (Setup/Screen Settings/Dolby Vision Output), and if left on, it will play any content on UHD or Blu-ray disc and assume it has been encoded with Dolby Vision. As for Dolby Atmos, that is not a problem for discs (just make sure the BD Secondary Audio is turned off in the Audio Settings), but if you do use the Netflix or Prime Video app, any content on those services that should have Dolby Atmos will only play in Dolby Digital 5.1.

 

Conclusion

I have had my Sony UBP-X800M2 UHD Blu-ray player for nearly five years now, and I have been mostly happy with it. It plays SACD’s and DVD-Audio discs with impressive sound quality (and if your receiver is capable of DSD playback over HDMI, you can let your receiver do the DSD decoding), picture and sound quality is also excellent on UHD discs with excellent 4K upscaling of 1080p Blu-ray content (DVD is acceptable), and overall it’s a pretty solid and reliable player.

See this and other top picks in our Best 4K Blu-Ray Players buyers guide.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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B-ROLL

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I've put plugged my Sony X800 into a switchable outlet strip to save wear & tear on the plug. (The outlet is plugged into battery-backup/UPS) Sometimes cleaning the disc will help with playback and usually I can continue on with the show ....
 

Todd Erwin

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I've put plugged my Sony X800 into a switchable outlet strip to save wear & tear on the plug. (The outlet is plugged into battery-backup/UPS) Sometimes cleaning the disc will help with playback and usually I can continue on with the show ....
X800 or X800M2?
 
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Brian L

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I've put plugged my Sony X800 into a switchable outlet strip to save wear & tear on the plug. (The outlet is plugged into battery-backup/UPS) Sometimes cleaning the disc will help with playback and usually I can continue on with the show ....
A pretty good, albeit long article about disc cleaning. Even if a disc looks flawless to the naked eye, a thorough cleaning of a problem child is not a bad idea.

 

Scott Merryfield

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It's really a shame that Sony missed the boat on this player. The requirement to manually turn Dolby Vision on/off was a complete non-starter for me, as were the reports that there were still occasional disc lock-ups. I still have the original X800 in my equipment rack as a backup player, plus as an option for SACD / DVD-Audio playback (I also have an old Oppo DVD player for that purpose). However, I went with the Panasonic UB820 instead of the X800M2 as a Dolby Vision upgrade for my primary video disc player, and have been very happy with that player.
 

Todd Erwin

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It's really a shame that Sony missed the boat on this player. The requirement to manually turn Dolby Vision on/off was a complete non-starter for me, as were the reports that there were still occasional disc lock-ups. I still have the original X800 in my equipment rack as a backup player, plus as an option for SACD / DVD-Audio playback (I also have an old Oppo DVD player for that purpose). However, I went with the Panasonic UB820 instead of the X800M2 as a Dolby Vision upgrade for my primary video disc player, and have been very happy with that player.
After Sony replaced my X800 with the newer X800M2, I asked the executive management team why this player, and the X700, require the user to enable and disable Dolby Vision manually, and was told that it was a requirement placed on them by Dolby Labs. Yeah, I know, that response doesn't make much sense considering even the LG and now discontinued Magnavox (there's I name we haven't heard in a long time) could auto-sense DV. The only thing I can think of is it could be linked to whatever Dolby chipset Sony decided to go with.
 

Scott Merryfield

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After Sony replaced my X800 with the newer X800M2, I asked the executive management team why this player, and the X700, require the user to enable and disable Dolby Vision manually, and was told that it was a requirement placed on them by Dolby Labs. Yeah, I know, that response doesn't make much sense considering even the LG and now discontinued Magnavox (there's I name we haven't heard in a long time) could auto-sense DV. The only thing I can think of is it could be linked to whatever Dolby chipset Sony decided to go with.
I remember you posting this in the past. I have my doubts that's really the case. It sounds more like some bogus company line to try and put a spin on a bad decision -- similar to what GM is doing with their decision to dump Apple Car Play and Android Auto from their electric vehicles and instead develop their own software. They claim it's due to "safety concerns", but the real reason is so they can gather user data and probably also sell you a monthly service that you wouldn't need if Car Play and AA was supported by the vehicle.
 

Patrick Sun

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I can't remember why I moved off my Sony X800M1 for a Panasonic UB420 3 years ago, but I kept the X800M1 as a backup as well, and now that I have a 3D-capable projector, I've decided to use the X800M1 as my dedicated 3D blu-ray player for the foreseeable future. Still no DV-capable display, so no need for DV-capable player for now. But I digress...
 

Mike Boone

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It's really a shame that Sony missed the boat on this player. The requirement to manually turn Dolby Vision on/off was a complete non-starter for me, as were the reports that there were still occasional disc lock-ups. I still have the original X800 in my equipment rack as a backup player, plus as an option for SACD / DVD-Audio playback (I also have an old Oppo DVD player for that purpose). However, I went with the Panasonic UB820 instead of the X800M2 as a Dolby Vision upgrade for my primary video disc player, and have been very happy with that player.
Scott, like you, I've also been very happy with Panasonic's UB820 UHD 4K BD player. Since early 2021, have had a UB820 in our basement's dark theater room, paired with a Sony Master Series 77 inch OLED. And since September 2022, we've also used a second UB820 in our living room's setup. The choice of the UB820 to be our only platform for playing UHD Blu-rays was only made after reading about numerous user experiences with UHD Blu-ray players, and repeatedly seeing it mentioned that the UB820 simply doesn't freeze up, or have any issues with skipping during any scenes. Such flaws afflict a number of 4K BD models (especially the freeze up flaw) as such units must deal with very long movies that require players to focus their lasers on a 3rd video data layer that UHD BDs must utilize to be able to contain UHD movies of lengths of approx. 2 hr 40 min, or LONGER. So even though I'm a longtime fan of Sony products (including using the company's top XBR model CRT type TV during the early days of DVD), I noticed that some owners of Sony UHD BD player models mentioned having freeze up issues with a small number of movies on UHD 4K disc.

BUT, in roughly 3 years of experience with the UB820, I did encounter ONE problem with a UHD BD, which took place past the 2 hour point into the UHD BD of Saving Private Ryan. Some video break up began occurring, but I remembered reading that rather than having the UB820 chroma setting on 4:4:4, the setting that many folks use (the setting I chose), using the 4:2:0 setting instead, can help avoid problems. So after making that change, the UHD Blu-ray of Saving Private Ryan has played perfectly ever since. From what I've read, 4:4:4 chroma can only have some advantage with PCs, but regarding UHD BD players handling video of UHD 4K BDs, the 4:2:0 setting will yield performance that's as good as possible with UHD Blu-rays.
 
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B-ROLL

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A pretty good, albeit long article about disc cleaning. Even if a disc looks flawless to the naked eye, a thorough cleaning of a problem child is not a bad idea.

Ah I am reminded of buying as "previously viewed" Disney DVD from Blockbuster Video. I always checked those disc for scratches and fingerprint etc - when I realized the play side was covered with dried on gunk - which I determined was actually caked on peanut butter and grape jelly!. I had to bring out my favorite cleaning girls: Dawn for Dishes (for the peanut butter) and Joy dishwashing liquid for the jelly. I think i soaked the disc for about five minutes and the using my fingertips to carefully rub the detritus off was able to get the disc to play perfectly after rinsing and drying the disc.

The worst 4K disc other than - Coco
1706049876498.png
which I have tried two different discs and none will all the way play through - was Flight of the Butterflies -
1706049638388.png

It sat in the case unopened for several years and after it stopped playing - I noticed a brown oily film and cleaned it off with shampoo and it did continue to play after rinsing and drying the disc..

I believe the issue is with the error correction on the X800 in some cases the player with just shut off (the power light goes off) and the only way to reset it is to "unplug" it.
 

Scott Voth

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I have two X800, v1s and one all of a sudden decided it didn't want to play certain UHD discs anymore. Not all of them but some of them. I tried them in my other X800 and they played fine. I replaced the Sony with a Panasonic DP-UB820 which plays everything fine. I didn't want to take a chance on another Sony. The problematic X800 has been relegated to my 3rd hd setup that doesn't get used that much.
 

Bartman

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I don't have a 4K player initially because of fear of another disc buying cycle (VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray), I've been waiting for a Sony half width player like my BDP-S6700 (that fits under my TV) & disc/player problems described here. Wake me up when Sony introduces a 4K player with all these features & none of the problems?
 
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