The BDP-S490’s feature list is terrific, but attention will inevitably be drawn to the lack of built-in Wi-Fi – which, coincidentally, you can find inside some similarly-priced rivals like the Samsung BD-E6100. That means you have to buy Sony’s UWA-BR100 USB LAN adapter to access the deck’s network functionality wirelessly, which adds an extra £50 or so to the overall price. You can of course use the Ethernet port, but it’s far less convenient – unless your router is near your TV or you use a Homeplug system.
Still it’s worth the effort, because Sony’s range of online content is possibly the best in the business. The Sony Entertainment Network features plenty of free video streaming services, including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer and Demand 5, plus Sky News, YouTube, DailyMotion, Sony’s 3D Experience and Sony Entertainment Television. On-demand movies are supplied by Netflix and LoveFilm, plus there’s a wealth of specialist sites to choose from.
And that’s just the ‘Video’ section. In the Music section you’ll find Music Unlimited, Moshcam, National Public Radio and vTuner internet radio, while the Network section is home to Facebook, the Opera TV Store and an internet browser. If we’re being picky, the lack of ITV Player and 4OD is a shame but otherwise SEN boasts an enviable selection.
The DLNA-certified player can also be used to stream video, music and photos from your own media servers (PCs, laptops, NAS drives etc) or you can play files from devices and hard drives connected to either of the USB ports. The list of supported formats is wide-ranging, although we’re still a little miffed by the lack of DivX support and it only played our WMV HD file in weird, blurry SD resolution.
Still, it’ll play MKV, AVCHD, MP4, AVI, XviD and MPEG-1. We were also hugely surprised that the deck played some seriously old WMV rips that most Blu-ray decks refuse to play. Supported photo formats are JPEG, GIF and PNG. On the music side, it’ll play MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC, but the lack of FLAC is disappointing. The deck makes up for it with support for Super Audio CD, which audiophiles will welcome with open ears.
Not only is the BDP-S490 able to play 3D Blu-ray discs, but it’ll also convert 2D movies to 3D, widening your potential range of 3D content. The deck features Super Scaler (Precision CinemaHD) upscaling to display DVDs on HD resolution screens, while on the audio side it handles Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, converting them into PCM or outputting them as a raw bitstream for your AV receiver to decode.
You’ll also find some other handy network-enabled features, such as the Qriocity Entertainment Database (courtesy of Gracenote), which provides cover art and other details about the disc being played. The deck can also be controlled using an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet running the Media Remote App, including control over playback of content from media servers. If you’re browsing the web on your smartphone, you can even ‘throw’ pages to your TV screen.
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