While its main job is to spin discs (including 3D Blu-ray, of course), the BDV-E880 is more of an all-round entertainment hub than a straight-up home cinema system, putting a wide variety of other media playback options at your disposal.
The most eye catching of its media talents is access to BRAVIA Internet Video, Sony’s online content portal, which for our money offers the best choice of content on the market. That choice includes BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Sky News, LoveFilm, Sony Entertainment TV, Eurosport, YouTube, Qriocity and loads of other video sites, plus a cluster of music and radio services.
But if you’d rather enjoy your own music or video library, you can also stream it directly from PCs and other DLNA devices on your network. And when hooked up to your network you can also control the BDV-E880 with an iPhone or Android phone, or use its keyboard to type onscreen text – essential if using the system’s built-in internet browser, as it’s a real chore entering URLs with the remote.
If you want to access any of these features wirelessly then you’ll need to invest in Sony’s optional Wi-Fi adapter, which you can find online for around £70. This connects to one of the USB ports, and because there are two it leaves the other one free to play music, video and photos from another thumb drive or external HDD. Our tests were carried out using an Ethernet connection.
Format support is reasonably healthy, with the Sony offering support for MKV, XviD, WMV, AVI, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, LPCM and JPEG, but as we found with Sony’s standalone players it won’t recognise DivX files, which could be a major bummer if you’ve amassed a large collection of movies.
On the audio front, there’s a range of DSP modes to play around with. These include Sony’s 3D Surround mode, which is supposed to add extra depth to the sound and help you get immersed deeper in 3D movies. It’s joined by Movie, Music, Sports, Game-Rock, Omni-Directional, Hall, Night and an Auto mode.
Additionally Sony’s Auto Format Direct modes (Standard or Multi) choose the appropriate settings for the content you’re watching, while Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 offer the obligatory pseudo surround effect for stereo sources.
The system also decodes Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS HD Master Audio, plus it’ll play any SACDs you happen to have in your collection, all in glorious hi-res multichannel quality.