Among the S500's other tricks is the ability to play recordable BD-R and BD-RE discs (which will come in handy one day, trust us) alongside DVD, CDs and even discs containing JPEG and MP3 files (but not compressed video formats like DivX).
It'll also play AVCHD camcorder recordings on 8 or 12cm DVD discs, and if they were recorded using x.v.Colour (or xvYCC), then the BDP-S50 will play them back complete with an extended colour range, but you'll need a TV with HDMI 1.3 input. This is all very nice, but we'd have traded it for SACD playback, which a high-end deck like this is tailor made for.
All of these fancy features can't hide our disappointment at the fact that the BDP-S500 is Profile 1.0 as opposed to 1.1, which means it won't play the advanced interactive features found on some Blu-ray discs. The significance of this depends on your level of film geekiness - if you're one of those movie buffs who loves to devour every bonus feature on a disc, then this deck's limitations could prove to be very frustrating. You might be better off opting for the PS3 (currently the only Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player) or waiting for the wave of Profile 1.1 standalone players to hit the shops later this year. But if you couldn't give two hoots about extras, the S500 will still play the movie and all of the other non-BonusView features.
The S500's menu layout is exceptionally easy to follow and is stylishly presented in crisp hi-def. A lot of care and attention has also gone into the remote's design, which boasts thoughtful button arrangement and a fetching blue-tinged circle of direction keys in the middle. The deck responds swiftly to remote commands, making this one of the slickest Blu-ray decks around, and it copes admirably with standard BD-J menus like the one found on Spider-Man 3.