Yamaha BD-S473 - Performance
Its missing features and onscreen simplicity can’t disguise the fact that the BD-S473 is an impressive hi-def performer. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Blu-ray is a wonderful disc, bursting with vivid colours and gorgeous detail – all of which the Yamaha displays with aplomb.
The colour palette is incredibly bold and vibrant, nowhere more so than inside the Chocolate Room, where strong yet natural greens meet blazing reds and shocking purples. But perhaps more importantly, the deck displays hues with wonderful subtlety where needed. Wonka’s baby-smooth skin is deftly accentuated by shadows that blend into each other seamlessly.
And then we come to detail. The BD-S473 picks out every pixel with searing clarity. Pockmarked skin, fabric textures (Veruca Salt’s fur coat in particular) and CG background detail appears lucid and punchy, which makes for a mesmerising watch. Also impressive is how it keeps this detail looking crisp and stable even as the camera swoops and objects dart round the screen.
Blacks are solid, but the Yamaha has the contrast dexterity to pick out detail within dark objects. That helps gloomy scenes stay sharp, not just a mass of ill-defined murk.
Switch to 3D and the Yamaha serves up more of these sharp, spellbinding images. We watched Thor on a Samsung UE55ES8000 TV and the opening shots of Asgard – with its dramatic scenery and ornate buildings – are imbued with a wonderful sense of depth, without compromising on clarity or stability. As the camera moves into the hall during Thor’s coronation, you really get a sense of space and distance, plus the gathered crowds are sharply resolved.
The BD-S473 keeps its cool with more demanding discs too. Only one of the tests on Silicon Optix’s HQV Blu-ray proved problematic, with some light pulsing on the Film Resolution SMPTE pattern and some flickering on the pan across the stadium. But the jaggies and video resolution tests are expertly handled.
DVDs scrub up nicely when converted to 1080p and well-encoded YouTube videos look terrific, with the sort of low-level noise that won’t affect your enjoyment.
The Yamaha also passes muster as a CD player, delivering a clean, open and agile sound. Some may hope for a little more musical detail, others will crave greater transparency, but for day-to-day music playback you could do a lot worse.
Let’s not beat about the bush – there are lots of players on the market that offer better value for money than the BD-S473. Decks like the LG BP420, Panasonic DMP-BDT220 and Samsung BD-E6100 are equipped with slick online apps, glitzy operating systems and built-in Wi-Fi.
By contrast, Yamaha’s deck isn’t wireless, offers sparse connectivity and with just YouTube on board, it falls some way short of its big-name rivals in the Smart content stakes. That’s not great for the money.
But the BD-S473 regains ground with its excellent picture and sound performance, while media format support via DLNA and USB is wide ranging and build quality is solid. Ultimately though, the BD-S473 is only really likely to appeal to owners of Yamaha receivers who want a player to match.