Sony’s early Blu-ray players were overshadowed by the groundbreaking exploits of Panasonic, Samsung and LG, but in 2010 the format’s creator is out to redress the balance. Its latest range of players is as cutting-edge as they come, offering a wealth of multimedia features that make Blu-ray playback seem like an added extra.
The BDP-S570 sits towards the top end of Sony’s Blu-ray range, below the reference-quality BDP-S5000ES and the BDP-S770 but above the S370 and S470. Stand-out features are numerous but the headline grabbers are 3D playback out-of-the-box and built-in Wi-Fi, which provides cable-free access to the deck’s extensive networking functionality.
And as ever, Sony’s Monolithic design is a feature in itself. Nothing radical perhaps, but the wafer-thin bodywork and sleek black finish make it a wonderfully stylish and modern-looking player. The lower section of the fascia curves inwards then juts forward, creating a sort of platform that houses a row of discreet buttons. When powered up, a gentle blue light glows alluringly in the centre and a small display panel presents the key playback information clearly.
Two USB ports are provided (one on the front and one on the back), which is rather generous given that the deck doesn’t need a dongle for Wi-Fi or BD Live storage – it has 1GB of memory built in. That means both ports can be used for digital media playback from USB storage devices. The remaining rear panel connectivity includes an HDMI output, which is specified as v1.4 to carry those Full HD 3D pictures, component and composite video outputs, analogue stereo out, plus coaxial and optical digital audio outputs. Finally an Ethernet port provides an alternative way of hooking the player up to your home network.
Most people, however, will take advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi adapter, which supports the 802.11a, b, g, and n standards. The ease and speed with which you can connect to the Internet provides an incentive to check out BD Live and other web content. Setup is simple too – choose 'wireless' in the network settings, then run an access point scan or link the player up to your router using the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) system. Job done.
The quality and quantity of Sony’s Internet content makes it superior to other web portals like Panasonic’s Viera Cast or LG’s NetCast. The BRAVIA Internet Video feature boasts BBC iPlayer, Demand Five, LoveFilm, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Eurosport alongside news, music videos, sport, lifestyle, podcasts – the list goes on. Culture vultures can even check out the latest phat sounds from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra through a premium streaming service.