The BD-E8500 loaded Terminator Salvation in just 41 seconds, and there are few issues with picture quality. It displays 2D Blu-ray discs (in this case Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes) with intense detail sharpness, clean, noise-free edges, dazzling colours, smooth tonal gradations and cinematic depth.
The Silicon Optix HQV test disc gave the BD-E8500 no problems whatsoever – the Video Resolution Loss test pattern looks steady and stable; the jaggies test boasts clean diagonal lines with zero stepping; and most impressively it locks on to the cadence of the Film Resolution Loss test pattern instantly without any flickering whatsoever. The camera pan across Raymond James stadium is also expertly handled, minimising moiré noise on the rows of seats and moving with no judder. Very impressive.
3D movies look utterly absorbing, thanks to a complete lack of crosstalk and the same detail sharpness, colour vibrancy and picture depth that make 2D pictures so appealing. Converted 3D pictures don’t immerse you in the same way but it’s fun making Noel Edmonds and his red boxes jump from the screen.
As for Freeview performance, high-definition channels like BBC HD and Channel 4 HD are striking, boasting crystal clear detail and natural colour reproduction, but some standard definition channels seem strangely below par. There’s more noise than expected, which gives images a slightly blurred look. It’s perfectly watchable but stick to hi-def where possible. Programmes recorded onto the hard disk look identical to the live broadcast, which ensures pristine HD recordings with no drop in detail.
The BD-E8500 further expands the boundaries of what home entertainment products can do. The way it marries core functionality – 3D Blu-ray, Freeview, HDD recording – with a wealth of online content, networking functionality and multimedia support makes it a formidable entertainment hub for your home, more advanced than any PVR that’s gone before. The niggles of its predecessor are gone, leaving nothing but a slick, glitch-free user experience.
But what we also love is that the BD-E8500 is about much more than just entertainment; it’s about lifestyle, well-being, family interaction, social networking and convenience. It just so happens that it’s excellent at home cinema too, offering crisp HD pictures from Blu-ray and Freeview. In short, it’s absolutely brilliant.