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Sony BDPS590 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player with Built-in Wi-Fi (New for 2012)
Sony BDPS590 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player with Built-in Wi-Fi (New for 2012)
Offered by TODO! TODO!

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A capable player for the price, 9 Nov 2012
I've been the proud owner of a third generation Sony BDP S-550 for around four years now, but recently it's started to exhibit a few minor problems; things like locking up with certain discs after extended use and issues with some or the more complex BDs out there. I was also keen to add media streaming capabilities in the living room without having to cart the PS3 between rooms each time. After demoing a few players at my local independent store I narrowed things down to the Panasonic DMP BDT220 and this, the Sony BDP S-590. In the end I plumped for the Sony for the following reasons:

Disc playback: I took a couple of known `trouble' discs with me to test, fully expecting the Panasonic to have no problems with them - I was wrong. While it didn't lock up like my old S-550, the picture did break up, pixelate and skip. I tried the S-590 and it played over the problem area like it wasn't there. This was a great surprise given that this particular disc locked up my old player and my PS3, but also because even my Toshiba deck in the bedroom - known for its speed - exhibits a slight glitch when it passes over the defective area. The S-590 was flawless, so Sony has clearly made strides in this area in the last few years. It also played another disc (the one that prompted this purchase by locking up my S-550) without incident. Images looked every bit as good as every other player I've seen when set to the standard setting (let's face it, most BD players offer the same visual quality) and audio bitstreamed to my amp without issue. I usually don't use on-board decoding, but I performed a quick test and the player mixed both primary and secondary audio and output the result as multi-channel LPCM to my AVR, so it's doing what it should. Overall I am very happy with the core functionality of the machine.

Performance: Third generation players were quite sluggish, as evidenced by the fact that the £50 Toshiba deck I have in the bedroom outperforms my old S-550 by quite some margin even though it was a sixth of the cost (the Sony was around £300 at the time of purchase). Thankfully the S-590 is much better in this respect. Boot time is noticeably quicker than the older Sony, coming in at around fifteen to twenty seconds (unscientifically measured) even without the `Quick Start' mode enabled. (The quick start mode brings it down to around five seconds but uses more power.) Load times were also much improved over the older model; Prometheus took around forty seconds to load even with BD-Live enabled and The Cabin in the Woods was just over twenty seconds. These results are only a couple of seconds slower than the Toshiba. Chapter skipping and fast forwarding/rewinding are very nippy, as is general navigation through menus.

Features: Although probably best described as an entry-level, perhaps mid-range player, the S-590 offers a generous selection of features over and above disc playback. For starters it is wireless enabled up to 802.11n, so you can connect to the Internet even if your router is in a different room (although this is obviously subject to signal strength). With this functionality you can use the XMB interface to connect to services like the BBC's iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, and plenty more besides. Within minutes I was streaming 1080p video with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio in X-High quality from Netflix that looked every bit as good as it does on the PS3 (admittedly I have fast broadband and a strong wireless network). I also tried out Sony's Crackle, which offers free streaming movies, and it worked well but the quality of the streams isn't great. There's also a Sony portal that grants access to various other services, both paid and free, plus you can log into Facebook and browse the web.

The player also supports DLNA when connected to a suitable media server (unfortunately direct access to SMB shares is not supported). I was able to successfully connect to PS3 Media Server on a PC in another room and stream 1080p video in a variety of formats. I also connected a USB flash drive and an external 500GB hard disk drive to the unit via USB and was able to play back various .mp4 and .mkv files without issue (I did not test other formats). Best of all, connecting directly to the player removes the wireless bottleneck, so even 1080p video fast forwards/rewinds quickly. In this mode high-definition audio tracks (such as DTS-HD Master Audio) work, which they do not when using DLNA.

Build: Unlike my old S-550, which offered outputs such as 7.1 analogue, composite video, stereo audio jacks, coaxial digital, component, Ethernet and S-Video, the S-590 is a comparatively sparse affair round the back. You have the HDMI port, composite video and stereo audio (who would use these?), coaxial/optical audio, Ethernet and USB (for both BD-Live storage and media playback). There's also an additional USB port on the front of the machine for connecting to external storage, which is convenient. While investigating new players the first thing that struck me was that build quality is nowhere near as sturdy as it used to be. The S-550 has some real weight to it, but everything I tested recently (including the Panasonic and Sony's big brother, the S-790 at £200) was very lightweight and plastic. I wouldn't go so far as to call them flimsy, but you can definitely tell that we're now in an era of mass market BD players as opposed to the halcyon days when they were still a niche product and cost a bit more. With that said, the features packed into current players at a fraction of the cost of older units means something has to give, and I'd rather it was design than performance. This seems as good a place as any to mention the remote, which is basically a smaller version of the one that accompanied the S-550 (Sony likes to keep its styling consistent). It's comfortable to use and all of the buttons are easy to access, but the placement of the Home button is such that it's very easy to accidently knock it when trying to pause/skip, which sends you back to the home screen. I would also have liked a dedicated button for lunching Netflix (like the Panasonic remotes) to save scrolling through the XMB every time.

Misc: Sony also offers an app for Apple and Android products that allows you to control the player via a virtual interface. You can also `throw' web pages from your mobile device to the player for viewing on the big screen, perform searches related to the disc you're watching through Gracenote, and various other bits and pieces.

Cons: It's not all rosy though. I do miss some of the functions from the S-550, such as the ten second jump backwards/forwards keys on the remote. The S-590 is also a little noisier than the S550, especially with DVDs, and they are also slower to load than BDs (although to be fair I use an Oppo DV-981 when I watch DVDs, which is rare anyway). I was also a little annoyed that Sony forced me to update the firmware before I could use any of the online applications. Not only did it mean a fairly lengthy download and installation process before I could access said features, it also introduced Cinavia protection onto the machine (you'll have to look it up). The firmware upgrade wasn't mandatory for viewing BDs, but Sony clearly made the decision to `encourage' users to apply it by limiting the player's online functionality until the upgrade was performed (much like PS3 updates). Boo Sony. I was also a little disappointed to discover that on-board storage for BD-Live is not included, but then again a lot of players require external storage in the form of SD or USB, so it's hardly surprising.

Overall: On the whole I'm pretty happy with my purchase. It's not the most aesthetically impressive piece of kit I've ever owned, but it does what's asked of it well. It's amazing to think that my first Blu-ray player (Samsung BD-P1400) was around twice the size of this, three times the weight, had no BonusView or BD-Live support, no on-board decoding of high-definition audio formats, took around three minutes to load some BD-J enabled discs, and cost £350. Things have come a long way in five years and I am more than happy to recommend this player to first-time buyers or those looking for an affordable upgrade.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 6:15 PM GMT

The Hangover (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray] (2009) [Region Free]
The Hangover (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray] (2009) [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Zach Galifianakis
Offered by produXa UK
Price: £5.01

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bland film ona bland BD, 2 Dec 2009
I don't really get all the love for this film. I didn't find it particularly amusing; certainly no more than any of the other comedies I've seen this year (Role Models, Bruno etc). Anyway, I'm not here to review the film, but rather the Blu-ray. Unfortunately it's like the film in more ways than I would have liked. Audio-visual quality is average at best, and the extras are quite flimsy. The PiP commentary track is about the best thing on offer, but the other extras aren't hugely enjoyable. For some reason Warner has opted to put two separate encodes of the film (theatrical and 'unrated') on the disc, rather than use the seamless branching option. There's almost 14GB of wasted space on the disc that could have been used for more extras and given the video more headroom. If you liked the film you'll probably be happy enough, but it's not exactly a demo title.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2009 12:28 PM GMT

Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Price: £5.50

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demo material, 28 Aug 2009
This review is from: Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009] (Blu-ray)
The score shouldn't be taken as a review of the film, it's a reflection of the Blu-ray's quality. Put simply, reference stuff. The film itself isn't great, but it looks and sounds phenomenal on BD (a bit like that other Proyas flick I, Robot). If you enjoyed the film this is a must-have disc, but even if you didn't it might be worth a rental for the audio-visual quality alone.

Leon - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Leon - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jean Reno
Price: £7.00

5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great..., 28 Aug 2009
I'd personally liked to have gone for about 3.5 stars, but Amazon doesn't seem to allow that so I went for the higher score. Anyway, the transfer is a bit of a mixed bag. Detail is much stronger than the DVD releases, edge halos aren't as apparent and colours seem to be slightly better. Unfortunately the contrast has been pumped up massively, so there's quite a lot of blooming and black crush. I never saw the film theatrically so I have no idea if this release or the previous DVDs (which themselves had contrast issues) are closer to the intended look. Even with the 'faults' this still looks considerably better than the DVDs on balance.

Audio is perfectly functional, but it lacks punch during the action scenes. The subtle elements are handled well though, and Eric Serra's score sounds magnificent. The bonus material isn't anything to get worked up about, but it's better than most catalogue titles. If you're a fan I'd say go for it, albeit with the above caveats. It's certainly a cheaper option to the German Steelbook and the French BD.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2009 1:36 AM GMT

Let the Right One in [Blu-ray]
Let the Right One in [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Kåre Hedebrant
Price: £6.00

22 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning!, 4 Aug 2009
If you're planning on buying there are two things you need to be aware of. Firstly, as already pointed out in another review, the advertised DTS-HD Master Audio track is not on the disc. Instead there are only standard Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, and the DTS track is only 768Kbps.

Secondly, at around 102 minutes and 53 seconds there is an encoding error that shows up as a series of white lines across the screen.

If you can live with these issues then this is still a good looking transfer with accurate subtitles, but when you're paying the best part of £20 for a film you expect someone to have quality controlled it somewhere along the line. It's really not good enough.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2009 6:58 PM GMT

Ghostbusters [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Ghostbusters [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Harold Ramis
Offered by LuvFilmLuvMusic
Price: £9.03

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review from someone who actually has the disc, 9 Jun 2009
Unlike the other reviewers, I actually have the disc in my possession (no pun intended) and I can say without hesitation that it's a great success. I'm sure some people will be disappointed by the amount of grain on display, but it is a fair representation of the look of the film and the audio breathes new life into the on-screen events. Thankfully Sony has delivered the goods when it comes to the extras as well, with the 'Slimer Mode' a particular highlight. If you're a fan of the film then this is a 'must have' disc, but everyone else should give it a go as well, if only to be reminded of how great family movies were in the 80s.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2009 10:45 PM GMT

The Promise [Blu-ray] [2005]
The Promise [Blu-ray] [2005]
Dvd ~ Dong-Kun Jang
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £3.44

5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware!, 4 Jun 2009
Momentum are falsely advertising this as 1080p, when it is in fact 1080i. Worse still, it's sped up to 25fps instead of 24fps! It only has standard Dolby Digital audio as well. This is not acceptable for a Blu-ray release.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2009 10:52 PM GMT

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