You’ve been framed
The player’s compatibility with 1080p/24 video is a bonus for movie-buffs. It plays BD movie discs at 24 frames-per-second (should your display allow it), allowing you to view a movie in the same frame rate as its cinematic counterpart.
This mode is rapidly becoming a standard and offers reduced judder during movie playback.
Image quality is to die for. I often use Casino Royale and Superman Returns to test BD decks, to which I’ve added the recent release of Queen Rock Montreal, and I have never seen all three look so beautiful – involved and with a tangible depth.Considering that my reference screen is a 52in 1080p LCD, not a plasma, I never expected such deep blacks, like those found in Bond’s night-time airport chase sequence.
And they were delivered while picking out all the finery that the 1920 x 1080 pixel count guarantees.
The S500, then, is capable of a great video performance, one you’d think that the machine would be hard pushed to emulate with audio. However, it does. In spades.
This is Sony’s only player with decoders for both 7.1 Dolby True HD and DTS-HD High Res. In addition it will stream out bitstreams for decoding by a suitably equipped receiver.Annoyingly, it doesn’t have DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, the preferred sound format of Blu-ray supporter Fox. This is sure to aggravate some die-hard enthusiasts.
If you’re wondering whether or not to spend the extra £200 over the brand’s S300, it’s in the audio performance.
A suitably-featured amplifier is made to sing by the S500. Soundtracks and music alike are afforded control, clarity and beef in equal and applicable measure.
This player truly makes Queen, in DTS-HD High Res, rock Montreal, my living room and the entire street.
Our Tech Labs were also mightily impressed with the player, rating its video and audio jitter figures as excellent – evidence, perhaps of the benefits provided by the deck’s substantial chassis.
It’s obvious that I like this deck for what it can actually do. However, my mind keeps flitting back to what it can’t. So here’s the rub: if you’re after a Blu-ray player which can play HD content better than any other player that I’ve so far come across; is capable of displaying the finest detail and can round it off with superb 7.1 audio control… Well, look no further!
However, we’re now perilously close to the first wave of Profile 1.1 players and if you really want to make the most of the next wave of rather more interactive Blu-ray discs then it probably makes sense to hold fire.
Hopefully these Profile 1.1 compliant discs will offer more than just Liars Dice on the P irates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It’s perhaps also regrettable that Sony has yet to build Super Audio CD support into its better-specified players.
This will almost certainly come at some point, and I feel SACD is a natural partner for upmarket Blu-ray. Of course, if you can’t wait you could always buy one of these bad boys and upgrade at a later date.