Sony’s BDP-S570 player was a runaway hit during 2010, hoovering up more awards than the clean-up crew at the BAFTAs – so this closely related follow-up has a lot to live up to.
Cosmetically, it’s only marginally different from its forebear. The player is extremely thin with a cute curvy front fascia and a stumpy little remote. The latter doesn’t look particularly natty, but it feels fine in the hand. Don’t lose it – the buttons on the BDP-S480’s front panel are so small you may never find them.
Last year’s Sony players offered the fastest disc-loading times in their class. This year’s models are bit more ponderous, although our Tech Labs recorded a boot-up time of only two seconds.
The player also speeds ahead with its online connectivity. The familiar Sony XrossMediaBar seamlessly integrates with the brand’s Bravia Internet Video portal, offering up a long list of Video on Demand TV services.
Unlike many of its rivals, Sony hasn’t really embraced the concept of downloadable apps. Instead its virtual shelves are stocked with copious amounts of IPTV content – and for telly addicts and AVholics this is really good news. Once connected to the ‘net, there’s a massive choice of stuff to peruse. BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 provide catch-up TV, there’s news bites from Sky News and Eurosport, while general entertainment comes via LOVEFiLM, YouTube, Daily Motion, and Sony Entertainment Television. That’s a whole night’s viewing entertainment before you’ve even loaded a disc.
And, amazingly, it doesn’t end there. You can also stream movies in either SD or HD from Sony’s Qriocity Video on Demand service, or listen to music if you subscribe to a Qriocity Music Unlimited package (good luck with those credit card details!). For extra net functions there’s a web browser on board. While this lacks Flash support, it’s nice to have to option for a quick Google.
Unlike the Samsung and Philips decks, wi-fi isn’t integrated. For that you’ll need to step up to Sony’s BDP-S580 model. However, the brand will happily sell you a dongle. for £70. Or you could just use the Ethernet port.
One area where the BDP-S480 shines over last year’s Sony BD players is file support. Media streaming has been given a big boost with the ability to play MKVs from a networked NAS, as well as AVCHD and AVIs. Audio file compatibility covers MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA. Media support via USB is much the same, although you do get access to SRT subtitles.
The deck failed to pull album art from our music server. However, if you spin a CD, it will go online and retrieve the sleeve from the Gracenote database, which is kind of smart.
Picture quality from the BDP-S480 is predictably terrific. Blu-rays drip with fine detail and colour fidelity is gorgeous. The player is also a great choice for music fans, being the only model here able to play hi-res Super Audio CDs. This multichannel music playback is stunning, easily giving this player an audible edge over others in the group.
Price: £180 Approx
Highs: Rich, detailed picture quality; SACD compatibility
Lows: Slower disc loading; no downloadable apps
Upscaling: yes to to 1080p
Multiregion: no Region B BD/R2 DVD
HDMI: yes 1 output
Component: yes but no HD support for Blu-ray
Multichannel analogue: no
Digital audio: yes coaxial
Dolby True HD/DTS HD decoding: yes
Dolby True HD/DTS HD bitstream: yes
Profile 2.0: yes
Dimensions: 430(w) x 199(d) x 36(h)mm
Features: 3D Blu-ray; Integrated web browser; Bravia Internet Video service; Ethernet; USB; Qriocity VOD and music services; DLNA certified; extensive media file support (including MKV, AVI, AVCHD); optional wi-fi dongle
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