The BDP-S790’s feature list reflects its range-topping status. As mentioned it has built-in Wi-Fi – eliminating the need to faff about with LAN cables and USB dongles – which allows you to explore Sony’s generous online content and stream files from servers connected to your home same network.
The deck boasts an unparalleled range of apps, gaining an advantage over rivals with its superior choice of catch-up TV and video streaming sites. This content can be accessed from the main menu or through the attractive Sony Entertainment Network portal, where you’ll find movies and music from Sony’s Video and Music Unlimited services.
Apps include BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Sky News, YouTube, LoveFilm, Netflix and Sony Entertainment Television and a ‘3D Experience’ zone. On a music tip you’ll also find vTuner internet radio, Moshcam, National Public Radio and Berliner Philharmoniker.
Lurking elsewhere in the menu is Facebook, Skype video calling, the Opera TV Store (yet another portal featuring Vimeo, CineTrailer and tons of games) and a web browser that allows you to roam the internet at large.
This DLNA-certified player also streams files from media servers over your network, with a wide range of supported video formats, including AVCHD, MKV, WMV, MP4, 3GP, AVI and XviD, although it’s disappointing to discover that the Sony won’t play DivX.
On the music side the deck handles MP3, AAC, WMA and WAV, while photo support covers JPEG, PNG, GIF and MPO. The BDP-S790 also supports 3D Blu-ray discs and SACDs, a nice bonus for hi-res music lovers. There’s also a Gracenote-powered Entertainment Database Browser that calls up information about a disc when it’s loaded (provided you’re connected to the internet).
Digital Cinema 4K upscaling is featured here too, which we’re starting to see more on AV receivers but this is the first Blu-ray player to support it. It means the deck will convert standard- or hi-def images to 4K resolution before sending them to a suitably equipped projector or TV. These are few and far between right now but when they’re commonplace the BDP-S790 is ready.
Elsewhere the deck features Internet Picture Enhancer Pro tech to clean up ropey web videos and 2D-to-3D conversion for pimping up your DVDs and 2D Blu-rays. The deck can output DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD as a bitstream or convert them to multichannel PCM, likewise DSD signals from SACD.