Sony BDP-S760 Blu-ray player
Sony's flagship Blu-ray player has built-in Wi-Fi and a surround sound headphone port
- Superb 1080p picture quality, 7.1ch analog audio, built-in Wi-Fi, surround sound headphone jack, user-friendly interface
- Light on multimedia features, doesn't look 'high-end' enough
The Sony BDP-S760 Blu-ray player puts sound and picture quality at the forefront. It also benefits from built-in Wi-Fi and a surround sound headphone jack, two features that set it apart from the pack.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
The Sony BDP-S760 is a high-end Blu-ray player aimed squarely at movie buffs and discerning audiophiles. It replaces the BDP-S550 as Sony’s flagship consumer model and introduces a host of new features. With an RRP of $649, the Sony BDP-S760 isn’t the cheapest Blu-ray player on the market. Its multimedia functions are also surprisingly limited for such an expensive device. Nevertheless, if your top priority is sound and video — as it should be — then this is one of the best Blu-ray players that money can buy.
Some of the highlights include built-in fast Wi-Fi (802.11n), 7.1-channel analog audio, two USB ports, a surround sound-replicating headphone socket and advanced picture processing. Indeed, it utilises the same HD Reality Enhancer and Super Bit Mapping as Sony's ultra-enthusiast 'ES' series. Consequently, the BDP-S760 produces some of the best video we've seen from a Blu-ray player in its price range.
The Sony BDP-S760 sports an eye-catching silvery finish that sets it apart from Sony's usual BD output. It’s also smaller than the majority of its predecessors, measuring just 246x430x70mm and weighing 2.1kg. This should ensure it fits into most home theatre cavities — but it makes the device look cheaper than it actually is. A simple black fascia covers the optical drive and LCD display, with the front inputs located beneath. These are limited to a USB input and a headphone jack, with the rest of the ports located at the back (HDMI, digital optical audio, coaxial audio, composite and component video, stereo analog, USB and Ethernet are all present and accounted for).
Unfortunately, there are no navigational buttons on the player itself, which can be very frustrating if you regularly misplace your remote (damn you, Remote Gremlins!) On the plus side, the included remote control is responsive and very straightforward to use. It certainly puts Panasonic's inscrutable efforts to shame; that's for sure. The menu is also a painless enterprise, especially if you're already familiar with Sony's XrossMediaBar.
The Sony BDP-S760 Blu-ray player’s standout feature would have to be its wireless connectivity. Unlike some Blu-ray players equipped with Wi-Fi (such as the Samsung BD-P1600), the Sony BDP-S760 doesn’t require a USB dongle to connect to the internet. Instead, everything you need is right there inside the player; much like LG’s BD390 Network Player or the Sony PlayStation 3.
The advantage offered by wireless connectivity is obvious — it means you don’t have to run unwieldy Ethernet cables through your house from point A to point B. Instead, you simply locate your wireless network in the BDP-S760’s settings menu and connect (just like you would with a notebook). An inbuilt wizard makes the process fast and pain-free, even for self-confessed Luddites. You can then download BD Live content or access photos from a networked computer; all with a few presses of the remote control.
Unfortunately, the BDP-S760 does not offer additional online services, such as access to Picasa or YouTube. If BD Web browsing is your bag, plump for the Panasonic DMP-BD80 instead. Adding insult to injury, the Sony BDP-S760 is incompatible with the usual clutch of video codecs, including DivX. It supports JPEG and AVCHD video files, but that's about it (even MP3s don't work via USB — instead you'll need to burn them to CD). It seems that Sony chose to pool all its resources into sound and picture quality of the BDP-S760, with all other considerations taking a back seat. It’s just as well, then, that the BDP-S760 is a tour-de-force in this area. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's unmatched.
To test the Sony BDP-S760's video performance, we connected it to a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV via HDMI. We then weathered our way through the Blu-ray edition of Terminator: Salvation. The film's careless butchering of our beloved Terminator mythos was almost enough to make us cry — but BDP-S760's superb image quality kept our tears at bay.
This is eye candy on an unprecedented scale. It exhibited some of sharpest imagery we've ever seen, with the movie's predominantly grey-brown visuals popping off the screen. We also watched the DVD edition of The Matrix. While a drop in quality is apparent and expected, the Sony BDP-S760's 1080p upscaling is among the best we've seen from any Blu-ray player.
Another neat feature of the Sony BDP-S760 is its inbuilt headphone jack. At first glance, this seems to be a pointless addition to a Blu-ray player, as most TVs offer headphone jacks of their own. However, what sets the BDP-S760's apart is its Multi-channel Headphone Surround technology. As its name suggests, this emulates surround sound via a special processing circuit. Naturally, the results are entirely dependant on the pair of headphones you're using. (I.e. expect great results from the high-end Sony MDR-NC500D. The $35 Beta Brainwavz Pro canalphones? Not so much.)
When we started up a Blu-ray disc, the Sony BDP-S760 took around 45 seconds to reach the main menu, which is pretty lethargic by today's standards. Ejecting discs also elicited an annoying 10 second pause.
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