Sony BDP-S470 £179.99
18th Feb 2011 | 09:02
3D Blu-ray, DivX HD and BBC iPlayer for a notch over £100; Sony presents the moon on a stick
Sony BDP-S470: Overview & features
Whether or not 3D as a format has a future, and especially a present, in your home is up to you. The so-called hunger among consumers for 3D certainly isn't obvious to us, though Sony – one of the third dimension's biggest promoters – is seeking to get 3D compatibility into your lounge whether you like it or not with the well specified, yet incredibly affordable BDP-S470.
Compact and with a slim design, it's a wonder that Sony has shoved so many ins and outs on this Blu-ray's back. HDMI starts, of course, though component video, USB and wired Ethernet LAN port are other key features, though it's worth noting that both optical and coaxial digital audio are present in place of analogue audio outputs.
In terms of pure home cinema, that omission precludes lossless Dolby True HD/DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks, though that won't concern most people just after a cheap-as-chips Blu-ray player.
More mid-market misery is ahead; the S470 doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi, so access to two important features – DLNA networking and Sony's Bravia Internet Video streaming service – must be done either wired or through a separate USB dongle from Sony that, at £70, adds a hefty chunk onto the S470's price.
The disc tray itself is a thing of wonder. Not only can it spin a CD, DVD, Blu-ray disc – both 2D and 3D – but it can even play high resolution from a Super Audio CD (if you still have any in your music collection). Another huge plus is that the S470 takes single figure seconds to eject its tray and load a disc – what a change from the first-gen players.
Sony BDP-S470: Picture quality
Insert a 3D Blu-ray disc and you get a choice of either 3D or 2D playback. After syncing our active shutter glasses (which come with a 3D TV purchase, remember, not with 3D Blu-ray players), we noticed the usual problems with active shutter 3D footage when viewed on an LCD screen.
The most obvious is a drop in brightness, but flicker is noticeable (apparently only one in 10 people notice the active shutter glasses constantly doing their thing, but we beg to differ) and there are a few other issues that we can't exactly blame the S470 for.
The main gripe we have it that once sitting dead-on to the screen, you literally cannot move; slouching on the sofa or, heaven forbid, lying down on a sofa, renders the picture completely blank.
We digress; the S470 as a 3D Blu-ray spinner is as good as any other we've tried, and for showing regular 2D high definition from Blu-ray, it's a steal. Colours are rich and bold, with a polished, detailed look that's hard – or should that be impossible – to beat at this price. It's no slouch with DVD, either, with plenty of evidence of some nifty upscaling circuitry.
Sony BDP-S470: Value & ease of use
Value & ease of use
Selling for such a low price, you could argue that the S470's ability with 3D as well as 2D Blu-ray discs comes virtually free of charge. And if you think that's good value, you're going to love the S470's Bravia Internet Video.
Some brands – LG springs to mind – are about to launch separate adaptor boxes of around the size of an Apple TV to bring web video capabilities to any TV.
Effectively, that's what the S470 already is, with the bonus that Sony's web TV service is one of the best around. As well as on-demand TV from the BBC iPlayer (surely the headline act) and Demand Five, there's movie streaming via Lovefilm and the delights of YouTube and Eurosport, among many other services – including Sony's own Qriocity service. If only there was integrated Wi-Fi…
We suspect that the S470's 'wired-only' reputation will leave the rapidly improving (thanks to frequent automatic firmware updates) Bravia Internet Video service unused by many.
Digital media is handled terrifically well by the S470. Firstly, because the interface – Sony's XMB, which is common to all of its connected home products, including the PS3 – was born to tie-up disparate sources. Secondly, it's utterly comprehensive (we can confirm MKV/DivX HD support), with WMV HD alone in not being supported.
Sadly, DLNA networking is not nearly as impressive. For some reason, the S470 completely ignores a plethora of file format stored on a PC on the same network, managing to playback just AVC HD, AVI (DivX), MP3 and JPG formats.
Sony BDP-S470: Verdict
With BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm and Eurosport, excellent digital file playback, and an all-round easy to use interface, it's worth reminding ourselves that the S470 is, at its heart, a Blu-ray player of some standing.
Pictures, pictures, pictures. Why anyone would pay beyond this price for a Blu-ray player just does not compute if they're primarily after top-grade Full HD images; there's little to fault the S470 on, though 3D images continue to be dogged by crosstalk and ghosting when watched on a Sony 3D LED TV (which the S470 was reviewed with).
Access to BBC iPlayer and DivX HD support make for excellent bonus features.
With Bravia Internet Video goodness onboard, the S470 should really have Wi-Fi built-in – we expect such a feature to quickly become standard now these first-gen Blu-ray-cum-streaming decks are out and about. DLNA networking also proved a bit of a letdown. It may sound trite, but considering the USB dongle issue and the need to use a stick for BD Live downloads, a third USB slot wouldn't go amiss.
All criticisms are slight; Sony has made one of the most impressive and attractive Blu-ray players around. Its compatibility with almost any disc, including 2D Blu-ray, is excellent while the pictures it delivers are equally spotless.
Chuck in almost complete digital file support over USB and access to Lovefilm and the BBC's iPlayer, and we'd be surprised if the S470 didn't appeal to a much wider market than just Blu-ray buyers.