The BDV-E870 boasts a stellar line-up of features. We’ve touched upon 3D (which of course requires a compatible TV and shutter glasses) but the real star of the show is Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video, which brings an unbeatable range of movie, music and catch-up TV services to your TV screen. It may be an increasingly common feature, but Sony’s wide range of content makes it the one to beat. You get services like Demand Five, YouTube, BBC iPlayer and the new Qriocity Video-on-demand service.
The system can also access BD Live content and streaming music, video and photos from PCs on your home network, although this may also require a software update. You can stream content over the Ethernet connection, or wirelessly if you connect Sony’s optional Wi-Fi dongle (UWA-BR100) into either of the USB ports. The system supports DivX, MKV, WMV and AVCHD, as well as MP3, AAC, WMA and JPEG.
There are a couple of other tasty features on board, the most unusual of which is Super Audio CD playback. This hi-res music format might not have much of a following anymore, but it’s a welcome addition to the spec sheet given the gorgeous sound quality it offers. Also useful is the online Gracenote database, which looks up information for any disc.
Naturally, there are plenty of audio enhancements on board. The A.F.D. (Auto Format Direct Multi) mode plays the sound exactly as it is on the disc, while DTS Neo:6 and Dolby Pro Logic II processing allow you to expand stereo sources to multichannel. You also get a range of Sound Modes designed for different types of content – Music, Movie, Game Rock, News, Sports – as well as a bass-boosting mode (D.Bass).
The D.C.A.C. calibration system makes configuration a breeze. It uses the supplied microphone to measure the sound output and tweak the volume/distance settings automatically.
General operation is simplicity itself. Sony’s ever-reliable Xross Media Bar is again at the helm, and deploys its innovative dual-axis layout to great effect. Navigation feels intuitive, and the cursor glides from option to option quickly. This superb layout also makes it easy to find all your content and make changes in setup menu. If only all menus were as slick and attractive as this. It’s controlled by a similarly user-friendly remote, which boasts helpfully positioned menu and playback controls, although it does pack a lot of buttons into a small space.