- Excellent audio performance, great Blu-ray and DVD upscaling playback, streamlined interface, attractive design
- Slight lag times at startup and when navigating discs
The BDP-S500 is a powerful Blu-ray player, geared towards enthusiasts. Its high-end audio capabilities is best suited to a system that already has high quality audio products, although even on its own it's a great device.
Price$ 1,049.00 (AUD)
Sony's BDP-S500 is the company's latest Blu-ray player to hit the market, geared for enthusiasts. Superior audio performance is the selling point for this model, alongside the already stellar video performance delivered by Blu-ray. In addition to the standard array of features, such as full 1080/24p playback, and DVD upscaling, the S500 also includes the capacity for uncompressed Linear PCM 7.1 surround sound, as well as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. Alongside support for BD JAVA (which allows access to bonus material), the BDP-S500 is a high-end and very well rounded Blu-ray player.
Blu-ray playback on the S500 is excellent. Support for 24p means that with a compatible TV, users will be able to watch movies at a "native" 24fps (the frame rate used in movie cinemas). The video quality is everything we've come to expect from Blu-ray. As with most high-definition players, however, there is a slight lag when performing functions such as fast forward or skipping chapters. Although not longer than perhaps a second, it can be slightly irritating.
DVD upscaling is a core feature of high-definition players, and well it should be, as it means that existing DVD collections won't become obsolete. The S500 is capable of upscaling DVDs to up to 1080p resolution, although the 24p frame rate is only available for Blu-ray. This provides quite a noticeable difference, especially on large, high resolution screens, where the low resolution of DVDs looks blocky and pixelated. The upscaling provides a much clearer, better defined, and sharper image, and definitely does justice to DVDs on high-definition screens.
The player's audio performance is definitely one of its major attractions. All the major high-definition audio formats are supported, along with up to 7.1 channels. Users with a system larger than 5.1 will need a separate receiver though, as the S500 only includes analogue outputs for 5.1 systems. In general, we found the player's audio performance to be excellent, and only the most avid enthusiasts should find the need for a dedicated receiver/amplifier (unless using a 6.1 or greater system, of course).
Sony has taken care with the design of the S500, keeping it in line with its target audience of enthusiasts. It's quite attractive, with a glass front panel and buttons located on the top edge, rather than the front face. The rear panel houses 5.1 analogue audio connections, in addition to the standard array of ports, including HDMI.
The on-screen menu is incredibly simple, and easy to access and navigate. A well laid-out remote makes operating the S500 a breeze, and despite its high level of performance, there are actually relatively few options that will need tweaking, even on an irregular basis. The entire interface is highly streamlined and efficient. Now, if only they could get rid of the lag times!
Overall, though, the BDP-S500 is a great high-end Blu-ray player. Its extra audio capacities make it a great choice for those with the other equipment to take full advantage of them. While those without similarly high-end gear would probably be better served by a less expensive unit, for enthusiasts this is a great product.
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