Yamaha BD-S473 - Features
The BD-S473 is not overloaded with features, lacking the things we’ve come to accept as normal in the Blu-ray player market. The biggest omission is built-in Wi-Fi, which makes it harder to access the deck’s network functionality than we’re used to. There’s no compatible USB dongle either, which leaves Ethernet as the only way of getting online – a much messier method.
However, Yamaha has thrown in a few bits and pieces to stop it feeling completely vanilla. Yamaha doesn’t have its own online content portal a la Samsung's Smart Hub or Panasonic's Viera Connect, but it has included YouTube Leanback. This version of YouTube boasts large, simplified displays and options to search for videos, explore different channels, log in to your account or peruse featured videos.
The deck is also DLNA certified, which means you can stream media from compatible servers on your home network. Alternatively you can play files from a USB flash drive. The deck lacks built-in memory for BD Live use, but with two USB ports you can leave one drive in the back for BD Live and use the front port for media playback.
The list of compatible formats is healthy. On the music side, it plays MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV and FLAC, while supported video formats include AVCHD, MKV, MPEG PS/TS, MPEG-4, VOB, AVI, ASF and WMV. You can also bore relatives with your holiday snaps in JPEG, GIF or PNG. We loaded up a USB stick filled with media files and it happily played the lot of them.
Let’s not forget that the BD-S473 is 3D ready and does all the other thankless stuff you’d expect of a Blu-ray deck. That includes upscaling DVDs to 1080p, decoding Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio and turning them into multichannel PCM for receivers that can’t decode them, and preserving the native 1080/24p frame rate of Blu-ray movies.
Yamaha BD-S473 - Operation
Operating the BD-S473 is a generally smooth experience. A settings wizard appears on first boot-up, allowing you to set onscreen language, resolution and aspect ratio. Onscreen displays are easy on the eye – the classy splashscreen shows the inside of a grand piano, while the Home menu places Media, Setup, Quit and YouTube icons over a simple grey background. It’s all a bit sparse and basic compared with Samsung and LG’s dashboards, but it’s responsive and easy to follow.
The setup menu is reminiscent of Toshiba’s Blu-ray players, using full colour icons for each section along the top, with the corresponding options in the box below. The similarities continue with the Video Process menu, which allows you to select a picture preset (Standard, Vivid, Cinema or Custom), as well as apply noise reduction and select the deinterlacing mode.
Select the Custom preset and you can adjust brightness, saturation, hue, contrast and colour transient improvement (CTI), as well as adjusting the brightness, saturation and hue for the red, green, blue, yellow and cyan parts of the picture. That’s quite a level of detail, although the settings should be used judiciously to avoid clashing with your TV settings.
Next a word on the remote, which gets narrower at the bottom and therefore slots in the hand snugly. The button layout is fine, with the large multi-direction pad helpfully placed right the middle, while the playback keys are coloured white to help them stand out.
On the downside, most of the buttons are too small and the Home button gets lost among them. If you don’t like the remote, you can download an app for the iPhone, iPad or Android devices that lets you control the player over a network, but this requires a firmware update.