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Sony BDP-S470 Blu-ray Disc player review
Recommended by TimeForDVD.com
The Sony BDP-S470 is aimed squarely at the everyday consumer who has a home theater, may want to make a foray into 3D Blu-ray Discs someday, and does not mind using a wired Ethernet for internet access to Blu-ray Disc BonusView or BD-Live content, Netflix streaming, Pandora internet radio and other internet content.
Note, while I did not evaluate the Sony BDP-S470 first hand, I did have hands-on experience with the Sony BDP-S570 model, which was introduced at the same time and the only difference is the addition of Wi-Fi and 1GB built-in memory for BD-Live content. Other than that, the two units are identical as part of the same product line.
Distinguishing Features: What makes this player different?
Like many Blu-ray Disc players, the BDP-S470 is a slim-box design with a minimalistic footprint. The front panel is rather sparse of buttons: only four tiny nubs serve as the power button, disc tray eject/close, play, and stop controls. Everything else is to be controlled from the remote control. The disc tray is located on the left side of the unit, while the LED display is on the right. A convenient front USB jack can be found on the far right side of the front panel.
Initial set up of this Blu-ray Disc player was easy. I used an HDMI cable to hook it up to my Onkyo TX-NR5007 AV receiver, which takes care of both the video and audio signals. (My Onkyo AV receiver does the HDMI switching and sends the video signal to my Epson 1080p projector and decodes the requisite surround sound formats). I plugged it into an AC outlet, plugged in a Ethernet network cable, and turned it on. I then checked for and downloaded the latest firmware. That's was it to enjoy Blu-ray Disc movies. Sony pre-configured the BDP-S470 with default factory settings for an HDTV display and surround sound system.
Sony modeled the BDP-S470's graphical user interface after that of Sony Playstation 3's CrossBar design. That's fine, but the on-screen icons are relatively small and do not make full use of the TV screen real estate. Most functions can be accessed easily enough through this user interface, including the access of internet based content.
The remote control leaves much to be desired. The buttons are small and tightly arranged, making it hard to operate without occasionally pressing the wrong button. And without any glow-in-the-dark buttons or backlighting function, it is also very difficult to operate in a dimly lit room. It is obvious that Sony did not make the remote control a priority. Even considering the entry-level price point of this player, the form factor of this remote control is a bit of a disappointment.
Having said all that, the remote control does offer direct access to most commonly used functions, without having to pull up the on-screen menu. Four color buttons (yellow, blue, red, green) allow for BD-Live interactivity. There is a 10-second Replay button and a 15-second fast Advance button.
Blu-ray Disc picture quality: Blu-ray Disc picture quality through the HDMI as 1080p is great! The player is capable of outputting 1080p at 24 frames per second (i.e., 1080p/24) for film sources, replicating the native frames captured on film. With a well-produced Blu-ray Disc action movie, nothing can beat the clarity, detail, color, and brilliance of the Blu-ray Disc format, and the BDP-S470 certainly brings it to life.
Blu-ray Disc sound quality: Blu-ray Disc sound quality through the HDMI output using the Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio is awesome. For action movies, my system's Onkyo AV receiver and B&W CDM CNT loudspeakers literally rocked the home theater with a bit-for-bit rendition of the original studio master soundtrack. I have never heard surround sound any better, including commercial movie theaters. By the way, the BDP-S470 delivers picture and sound that is synchronized, with no "lip synch" problems.
DVD-Video picture quality: During playback of DVD-Video's native 480p resolution, the Sony up-converted the picture very nicely to 1080p resolution. As can be expected, the picture looked soft and lacks the same color depth and brilliance of Blu-ray Disc movies at native 1080p resolution. But the picture up-converted by this Blu-ray Disc player generally looks better than that from a DVD-Video player. The more well mastered DVD movies will convert up very nicely, without much video artifacts. Those that were poorly encoded did not show much improvement, as the proverbial "garbage in is garbage out" saying goes.
Netflix Streaming performance: Netflix streaming is acceptable on the Sony BDP-S470. The Sony Netflix application does not provide an elegant forward or reverse scanning capability. Competitive models from Samsung or Vizio, for example, offer a series of thumbnail images that gives you an idea of what images are being scanned through. This more elegant interface is very much like that of Netflix streaming on a PC browser with the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in. With the Sony, it is a frustrating trial-and-error approach to locate a specific scene. As Netflix streaming users know, there are no chapter marks as you would find with a Blu-ray Disc or DVD movie. Other than that, the streaming quality and experience is good through the Ethernet port.
Competitive Models & Value - How does this model compare?
Within the Sony Blu-ray Disc player line, if you do not have interest in the 3D Blu-ray Disc titles, you can take a step down to the entry-level Sony BDP-S370 (about $134) and save about $10. However, if you want upgrade to built-in Wi-Fi and built-in 1G internal memory for BD-Live content storage, you can step up to the Sony BDP-S570 (about $205) for about $60 more. If you're looking for a few more bells and whistles, you can step up to newer BDP-S770 (about $250) which includes a backlit remote control, a free Monster House 3D Blu-ray Disc movie, and a monolithic 3D chassis design matching the 2010 Sony BRAVIA 3D HDTVs.
In general, Sony Blu-ray Disc players seem to be
competitively priced, compared to other major
brands like Samsung, LG, and Toshiba. The Sony BDP-S470 model compares most
directly to the
Samsung BD-C5500 (about $103),
offering almost the same level of features (less the 3D Ready and
SACD playback) and similar performance
level. The Samsung sells for significantly less and is therefore a
better value. It does come with a better designed remote with
larger and more usable buttons. Netflix streaming navigation
is little bit better with better forward/reverse scanning
Associated equipment used in evaluation: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8100 3-LCD 1080p 16:9 aspect ratio front projector with custom screen, Onkyo TX-NR5007 THX Ultra2 certified A/V receiver with 145 Watts/channel, four B&W CDM 9NTs as left/right main speakers and left/right surrounds, B&W CDM CNT center channel speaker, Mediabridge Ultra HDMI cables available from Amazon.com, Monster Cable Original speaker cables, and Lovan Sovereign T HiFi audio rack. For internet streaming and content, we use a Motorola SB5100 cable modem and Netgear WGR614 wireless-g router for our home network. Our home theater equipment was calibrated with the Digital Video Essentials (DVE) HD Basics Blu-ray disc.
This review was originally posted on October 5, 2010.
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