I’m not going to explain everything because you don’t really need to know. For example, you were referring to the fact that there are drives that you can flash to a earlier version because companies didn’t want you to break the DRM (UHD friendly). Some websites actually sell those because you can end up bricking your player by flashing to an earlier version. Don’t bother with those. Those were from a few years ago and it’s not necessary to waste your time and money anymore. They cost the same as UHD capable so why bother getting it, no?
The Asus BW-16D1HT has been out for a while now and it was the best Blu-ray player on the market. It was a pain to get it to read UHD though; you had to make sure you bought it with the earlier firmware. (By the way, UHD and 4k mean exactly the same thing. The industry couldn’t get their act together and just agree to use the same terminology. Some say UHD 4k. UHD. 4K. They are all the same.) The Asus is what you are referring to UHD friendly. I wouldn’t get it though because to buy it non-bricked, it’ll cost about $130 by a third party ($80 if you want to do it yourself but why waste the time?).
The 2 burners below are $90 and $150.
Now there are 2 new burners on the market that can actually read UHD. Pioneer BDR-212UBK and the LG WH16NS60. UNFORTUNATELY, you need a recent computer to make it read UHD. You can use it to play regular Blu-rays (1080p) but you need recent hardware to get it to work with UHD unlike the Asus. This isn’t some shenanigans I think by the companies. You just simply need stronger hardware. This is what you need:
For the LG, you need at mininum (doesn’t have to be exactly this):
UHD System Requirements are listed as an Intel 7th Gen. Kabylake Core i3 or higher CPU, an Intel HD Graphics 630 or higher GPU, an Intel SGX* / HDMI 2.0a / HDCP* 2.2 & 1.4 Support Chipset, a minimum of 6GB of RAM, and a UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) Resolution / HDMI 2.0a (HDR*) / HDCP* 2.2 & 1.4 Support Display. If your AMD CPU and GPU have the same specifications, you can still use the drive with it.
For the Pioneer, you need slightly better specs:
Requirements for 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray
CPU: 7th generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5 processor
GPU: Intel® HD Graphics 630 (Internal GPU for 7th generation processor)
Memory: 6GB minimum
Motherboard: Intel® SGX(Software Guard Extensions) support Intel® 200 series motherboard, HDCP 2.2/HDMI 2.0a output compatible, Intel® internal GPU output compatible
Display: HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compatible, 4K display (3840 x 2160 minimum display resolution), HDR compatible (Incompatible display reproduces HDR contents with HDR>SDR format.)
I got a souped up computer 2 years ago and it barely doesn’t meet the above specs. I have a capable CPU, memory, and integrated graphics BUT the motherboard is HDCP 2.1 (instead of 2.2) and my monitor is HDCP 2.1 (instead of 2.2). I barely missed it. If I probably bought my computer a few months later, I would have been ok. I still bought the Pioneer though last month. I can’t watch UHD but I can still play it without the monitor if I get a new motherboard. It’s not that expensive but I’m not that computer handy so it’s going to probably take me a whole Saturday and Sunday to unplug everything off my motherboard and put on another $100 motherboard on. Sadly, I won’t be able to see the UHD quality though because I still have to buy a 4k monitor which is HDCP 2.2. I guess I’ll just wait to get a new motherboard until I get enough money to buy a new monitor. I don’t want to spend something like $500-$1400 for a capable monitor right now.
If you don’t have the money to spend, you can buy the Asus but then you’re always stuck with a slow computer because the Asus only works with a older computer which will be slower. I don’t think it’s worth it then. Also, it can only burn single layer M discs. That’s something I wouldn’t want. It’s not worth the 4k. I’d rather have a much faster computer than 4k when 1080p is pretty decent. I love 4k though but in life, you have to compromise sometimes.
The real purpose why I purchased a burner though is to burn M-Discs . These are blu-ray discs that last MUCH longer than regular blu-rays. They legitimately last hundreds of years vs perhaps years for a regular blu-ray. There are a lot of fakes out there but get a legitimate Verbatim M-Disc to back up your data. TY is another good brand but they don’t sell 100 gig discs. The Pioneer player can burn the largest M-Discs. The LG can burn up to 4.7 gigs while the Pioneer can burn up to 100 gigs. The LG though is $90 vs $150 which may sway your decision. Supposedly, M-Discs are going to come out with 200 gig discs in the future which I hope the Pioneer can handle. Cross my fingers.