Last Friday marked the start of a new era in home entertainment—the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player became available at retail for $400. One of the first places to actually have units in stock is Los Angeles-based retailer Video & Audio Center. According to Tom Campbell, VAC's Chief Technologist, all four locations—Santa Monica, Torrance-South Bay, Agoura Hills, and the Village at Westfield Topanga—quickly sold out of their inventory and then accepted full payment for a total of 103 more for delivery in a week or two. He says that one person even flew in from San Francisco, bought a player, and flew back the same evening! Meanwhile, several AVS members report having received shipping notifications from Best Buy and Amazon, and a few have bought the player at Fry's.

Of course, the UBD-K8500 will play and upscale regular Blu-rays and DVDs, but more importantly, it's the first commercially available device that can play Ultra HD Blu-rays with UHD native resolution and high dynamic range (HDR). At Video & Audio Center last Friday, the UBD-K8500 was playing two Ultra HD Blu-ray titles from 20th Century Fox—The Martian and Kingsman: The Secret Service—which VAC already has in shrink-wrapped cases and ready to sell starting on the release date of March 1, 2016. The movies were displayed on a Samsung UN65KS9800, the company's 2016 flagship SUHD LCD TV, which should probably be available in the Spring.

Even better, it's widely reported that over 100 Ultra HD Blu-ray titles are expected to ship this year from Fox, Warner, Sony Pictures, and Lionsgate. What a great time to be a home-theater geek!