We can’t find a great deal of fault with the BD-D8900M’s performance. We tuned in to BBC HD’s Wimbledon coverage and it coped admirably with the fast-moving objects, even keeping track of the ball during Serena Williams’ super-fast serves.
Naturally for a hi-def channel there’s detail in abundance, delivered to our 1080p test TV without any significant artefacts like block or mosquito noise. The texture of the grass and scuffed baseline, the pattern of the net, faces in the crowd are all conveyed with pin-sharp clarity. Colours are deep and natural, with various shades and shadows on clothing and backgrounds looking smooth with no banding.
When recorded onto the hard disk, this splendid picture quality remains intact. The lack of recording modes, which on other machines allows you to dip the recording quality to fit more onto the disc, means that all recordings are in the best quality the deck has to offer, but with such a capacious HDD on board you shouldn’t have to worry about the space this takes up.
Standard definition channels also look strong when viewed live or recorded, with some evidence of block noise and feathering on fast movement but nothing to put your nose out of joint.
Blu-ray images look stunning. The crisp, clean digital transfer of pixels from disc to screen results in pristine images that only shows signs of noise if it’s on the disc. It takes fine details and textures in its stride, rendering them with dazzling acuity. And despite being viewed through active shutter glasses, 3D pictures look sharp and vibrant, but with the benefit of extra depth and distance, the effect of which is utterly absorbing.
We’re not so impressed by the quality of the deck’s 2D-to-3D conversion. We tried a few 2D discs and it failed to provide extra depth to the majority of scenes, with only a few obvious ‘floating object’ moments looking remotely like the real thing. But to be fair we’re yet to see convincing conversion tech from any manufacturer.
All-in-all, the BD-D8900M is a wonderful advertisement for convergence, melding together various AV components into a slick, single-box unit. It’s positively bursting with cutting-edge features too, ranging from Wi-Fi media streaming to comprehensive Freeview functionality – not to mention a massive 1TB hard-disk. There are a few minor operational drawbacks, such as the cumbersome text-entry system and the inability to record two channels simultaneously but on the whole it’s a highly impressive home entertainment hub that leaves few stones unturned.