Sony BDP-S790 review
|Review: November 2013|
In a nutshell: The Sony BDP-S790 is Sony's top-level Blu-Ray player with superior picture quality plus a mass of features including 4K upscaling.
The Sony BDP-S790 was released in 2012 but is Still Sony's flagship Blu-Ray player.
Design & looks
The S790 is a machine that means business. Sleek, slim and beautifully designed, it looks like the high-end product that it is. The system is easy to use and a dual-core processor means that navigating menus is fast and trouble-free.
The S790 plays both 2D and 3D Blu-Ray disks, as well as DVDs (with upscaling to 1080p) and audio CDs. It will also convert 2D content into 3D. A wide range of formats are handled by the player, including MPEG and XviD video formats, plus many others (see the full list below).
The player supports the 16 bit deep colour standard and 24p True Cinema.
This is also one of the few Blu-Ray players that will upscale Blu-Ray content to 4K ultra high definition (4096 x 2160 pixels). This is 4 times the resolution of Full HD 1080p. You'll need a 4K TV to enjoy this, but with 4K TVs starting to flood the top end of the TV market in 2013/14, it's wise to be prepared.
Even without 4K upscaling, the picture quality of this player is superior to most, with perhaps only Panasonic's range of Blu-Ray players able to match it. Audio quality is excellent too and it even supports 7.1 channel output to a dedicated speaker system.
BD-Live 2.0 enables you to download additional content via an internet connection.
Sony Entertainment Network
The Sony Entertainment Network is Sony's Smart TV service, and it's very comprehensive too, including a good range of catch-up TV services (BBC iPlayer, Demand 5) as well as access to online movies, music and YouTube videos. Upscaling for YouTube videos is supported.
Apps include Sky News, LoveFilm, Netflix, Crackle and Video Unlimited.
The player connects to a HD Ready TV via HDMI and there's a digital audio output for connecting to an external speaker system or amplifier. Unusually, a second HDMI port is available for connecting to a digital amp.
Internet access is via an ethernet connection or the built-in Wi-Fi.
There are two USB connections - one in the font and one at the rear - which allow you to plug in a USB drive or device and access music, photos or videos on your TV. DLNA is supported, so you can easily stream content from PCs, laptops, smartphones, etc.
A smartphone app called Media Remote is available for use with the player. This allows you to use an iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet as a remote control or mouse for browsing the web. View tweets about the programme you're watching, and find related content.
Conclusion - the best Blu-Ray player
It certainly isn't cheap, but it's the best Blu-Ray player we've ever reviewed. And actually, it's not outrageously expensive - it's cheaper than the Samsung BD-F7500 and outperforms the Samsung in just about every respect, except perhaps the ease of use of Smart TV.
What impresses us most with the Sony is the above average picture quality - even before 4K upscaling - plus the exceptional range of connectivity options and the comprehensive Smart TV services. With 3D, Wi-Fi and 4K all ticked, it's very hard to imagine how this player could possibly be any better.
Sony BDP-S790 features include:
- Playable disks: Blu-Ray (including 3D), DVD, CD, Super Audio CD
- Video formats: XviD / WMV9 / MPEG-1 / MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 (mkv) / AVCHD
- Music formats: MP3 / AAC / WMA9 Standard / LPCM
- BD-Live (Profile 2.0)
- 4K upscaling
- Audio: DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD
- Connectivity: HDMI x2, ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB x2, digital audio output (coaxial, optical), composite AV, DLNA
- Skype enabled
- Standard remote
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