Sony’s standalone Blu-ray players have long been seen as a poor relation of the PS3, but the BDP-S760 could be the deck to change that perception. OK so you can’t play games on it, but it’s the most feature-packed Sony deck to date and most significantly the first from the company to boast built-in Wi-Fi. That makes it a direct rival to the tremendous LG BD390, which is still our Blu-ray benchmark, but at around £50 dearer Sony’s challenger has its work cut out knocking the Korean king off its throne. Let’s see how it fares.
First, let’s discuss design. The BDP-S760 is a much chunkier player than the BDP-S360, presumably to accommodate the extra electronics for all those flash new features. But despite its extra girth it’s a beautifully styled player, jazzed up by a slim blue light on the front and an alluring silver top cover. The front display panel is a little too small to read comfortably from a typical viewing distance, but it does contain a helpful selection of info – including a little ‘WLAN’ light that confirms Wi-Fi is enabled. Naturally our eye is also drawn to the USB port on the right hand side, which allows you to view JPEG photos on your TV, but weirdly not MP3 or DivX. All in all this is an attractive and beautifully constructed machine.
Spin it 180 degrees and you’re faced with a thorough line-up of sockets. Of course the HDMI output takes pride of place, leaving component, S-video and composite to provide able analogue back up. On the audio side you get 7.1-channel analogue outputs and a choice of optical and digital audio outputs, any of which can be used if your AV receiver hasn’t quite caught up with the whole HDMI revolution.
Joining these is an Ethernet port that brings BD Live to life in households without wireless routers, plus a second USB port designed to house the 1GB of memory for storing web downloads. Unlike the BD390, this memory isn’t built in, so forking out for a USB memory stick is a necessary evil. Completing the line-up is analogue stereo output.
With its Wi-Fi support, the DLNA-certified BDP-S760 offers network functionality, including the ability to grab content from connected PCs. The deck supports the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, as well as a/b/g, which should ensure a fast reliable connection with compatible routers, but here’s where LG scores its first victory – the Sony only allows you to view photos and not video or audio, which is a completely wasted opportunity.
Oddly, the deck can find and display your music and video folders but won’t recognise the files within them. Compare this with the BD390’s wealth of supported formats and Sony is left with egg on its face. It’s also worth mentioning that the BD390 also throws YouTube access into the mix, which is also absent here. The only positive we can take is that Sony’s PhotoTV HD feature at least lets you view JPEGs in hi-def.