As the title says - I'm glad I waited. I've been wanting to get on the BluRay bandwagon since it was first announced but with so many revisions made since the first players with regards to interactivity (Profile 1.0 & 1.1)it was pretty off-putting. Not to mention the high price and earlier models not having the ability to decode and send HD Audio streams via analogue outs.
This player does all that I wanted in a BluRay player:
DVD's - Upscaling DVD's are as good as my HTPC (consists of a Nvidia 8800GT). Watching The Matrix (DVD) I couldn't find any difference between my HTPC (using Zoom Player) and the Sony whilst using the light cannon.
CD's - sound very good (using it via the Stereo outputs on the player to the CD input on the T163). Sound is nice and warm with no discernible loss of the upper range where there is still plenty of detail. The lowend is "fat" yet fast.
BluRay - This is what the player was designed for and let me just say it is EXCELLENT!! From what I've seen around at local stores/demos, I doubt can be bettered without spending at least twice if not more than what this player retails for. PQ is excellent and pans are very smooth due to the 24p output (outputting to my JVC HD-1 projector) and there is not the slightest bit of artifacting. The picture is as smooth as can be with very nice natural colours. Watching "EARTH", narrated by Patrick Stewart, was simply breath-taking on my 6ft wide screen using the HD-1 - vibrant yet natural colours, smooth pans, very sharp and as I said earlier simply breath-taking. Sound-wise, I'm currently using the 7.1 analogue out to my NAD T163/T973 pre/pro which are connected to some old Aiwa 3 way speakers I've got on stands temporarily and the sound is detailed, separated and VERY dynamic (on my first BluRay, Die Hard 4.0). For the LF channel I'm using a JL Audio 13W7 with a 250w plate amp and the scene in DH4.0 involving the powerplant/gas lines was literally shaking the whole house (yet not overpowering the rest of the sound)
Regarding the build quality - it is pretty well built, but in all honesty I was expecting a tank in disguise but as the previous reviewer said - it's a tad too short in depth (shorter than my Sky+ box). It has a mirror like glossy finish on the front, top and sides and is very susceptible to fingerprints/dust but a quick wipe with a cloth will take care of that.
I highly recommend this to anybody who wants to finally go into the world of HiDef movie playback using BluRay and to not be scared of what the future holds as this player handles it all.
Just to note - I was also looking at the Panasonic DMP-BD55 but I couldn't justify spending an additional £150 on top of what I paid for the Sony from my local Sony Style store where as far as I'm concerned they both perform almost identical, with the same feature-set (Panasonic has DIVX support, Sony doesn't). Why spend more when you can get the same for less?
Highly recommended player!
Some things to note: The analogue out LF channel is weak - I've lowered all channels in the player (except the LF) by -3.0db and left the sub-level at 0.0db. I've increased the sub-level on the BluRay preset on my T163 to +3db. This levels out the base nicely and integrates it nicely for all my listening.
Speed of the player is greatly improved over what I've seen with past players - starting the player takes around 15 seconds (almost the time for you to pull the disc out of it's case) and loading takes another 10 seconds (enough time for you to sit down).
My only gripes are: No MP3 CD/DVD playback; No official PHOTOCD support although it plays back photo's stored as JPEGS on DVD/CD; No DIVX support but who wants to listen to MP3's or watch DIVX movies on a quality hi-def player anyway?
I'm expecting Transformers tomorrow as well as a copy of Vantage Point via a promotional offer from LoveFilm. Sony also have a promotion ongoing where by registering the player you get a copy of Casino Royale and Batman Begins to get you started, although it takes 28 days to come through from what I understand. I'd highly suggest buying a copy of EARTH (mentioned above) to use as a demo disc as it will definitely make the player flex it's muscles with regards to PQ.