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Sony BDP-S790 3D Network Blu-ray Disc Player Review

Blu-ray Is Just The Beginning

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories

Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View with Included Accessories

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Sony BDP-S790 is the latest in a continuous flow of Blu-ray Disc players that offer a lot more that just being able to play 2D and 3D Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs. In addition to those disc formats, the BDP-S790 also plays SACDs. Also, this player is as much an internet streaming device as it is a disc player, with access to a host of internet-based audio and video streaming content, as well as additional features that will surprise you. For more details, keep reading this review. After reading this review, also be sure to check out my supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.

Sony BDP-S790 Product Features

1. The BDP-S790 features Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality with 1080p/60, 1080p/24 and 4K resolution output, and 3D Blu-ray playback capability via HDMI 1.4 audio/video output.

2. The BDP-S790 can play the following disc formats: Blu-ray Disc/BD-ROM/BD-R/BD-RE/DVD-Video/DVD-R/DVD-RW/DVD+R/RW/CD/CD-R/CD-RW, SACD, and AVCHD.

3. The BDP-S790 also provides DVD video upscaling to 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and both DVD and Blu-ray upscaling to 4K (compatible TV or video projector required).

4. Video Outputs: Two HDMI, DVI-HDCP video output compatibility with adapter, Composite Video.

5. Audio Outputs (excluding HDMI): Digital Coaxial, Digital Optical, Analog Stereo.

6. Two USB 2.0 ports for access to additional memory storage and/or digital photo, video, music content via flash drive or iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

7. Built-in Ethernet and WiFi Connectivity.

8. Incorporation of Web Browser function.

9. Some of the Preloaded Internet Content Providers include: Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, CrackleTV, Pandora, and Slacker.

10. Skype audio and video phone calling (video calls require additional compatible webcam).

11. Gracenote metadata function for access to supplementary information associated with TV, music, and movie content.

12. DLNA Certified for access to digital media files stored on PCs, Media Servers, and other compatible network-connected devices.

13. Party Streaming mode allows wireless music streaming when used with Sony Wireless Network Speakers.

14. One Gigabyte of built-in memory for BD-Live functionality and internet App storage.

15. A Wireless Infrared Remote Control and full color high definition onscreen GUI (Graphical User Interface) is provided for setup and function access.

16. Free Downloadable Media Control App for both iOS and Android phones and tablets.

For an additional look at the features, connections, and menu functions of the BDP-S790, check out my supplementary Photo Profile.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View - Tray Open

Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Front View - Tray Open

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Blu-ray Disc Player (for comparison): OPPO BDP-93.

DVD Player (for comparison): OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR705 and Sony STR-DH830 (on review loan)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 3 (5.1 channels): Cerwin Vega CMX 5.1 System (on review loan)

TV: Panasonic TC-L42ET5 3D LED/LCD TV (on review loan)

Video Projector: BenQ W710ST (on review loan).

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Software Used

Blu-ray Discs (3D): Adventures of Tintin, Drive Angry, Hugo, Immortals, Puss in Boots, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Underworld: Awakening.

Blu-ray Discs (2D): Art of Flight,Ben Hur,Cowboys and Aliens, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Video Performance

Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel Connections

Sony BDP-S790 3D and Network Blu-ray Disc Player - Rear Panel Connections

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Whether playing Blu-ray Discs or DVDs, I found that the Sony BDP-S790 did very well in terms of detail, color, contrast, and black levels. Also, video performance with streaming content looked good, but factors such as video compression used by content providers, as well as internet speed, which are independent of the video processing capabilities of the player, did affect the quality of final displayed result. For more on this: Internet Speed Requirements for Video Streaming.

The BDP-S790 also passed almost all of the processing and upscaling tests on the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD.

The upscaling test results revealed that the BDP-S790 does very well suppressing or eliminating a variety of artifacts including jagged edges, moire patterns, as well as trailing artifacts on fast moving objects. The BDP-S790 also did well reconciling different frame cadences, enhancing detail, and suppressing video noise. The only noticeable issue I saw when running the tests, is that mosquito noise, although suppressed, was still visible. For a more comprehensive look at the video performance of BDP-S790, check out my supplementary photo-illustrated Test Results Report.

3D Performance

To evaluate the 3D performance of the BDP-S790, I used the Panasonic TCL-42ET5 3D LED/LCD TV featuring the passive glasses viewing system as my display device. Also, 10.2Gbps High-Speed HDMI cables were used for the connection setup.

On the Blu-ray player end of the 3D equation, I found that BDP-S790 loaded up fairly quickly, although it took a little longer than for a typical 2D Blu-ray disc. On the other hand, I found that the BDP-S790 provided trouble free playback with 3D Blu-ray discs, with no hesitation, frame skipping, or other issues that could be attributed to the player.

Using the 3D Blu-ray discs I listed on page one of this review, the results were fine on the player end of the equation. There was very minimal crosstalk (ghosting) or motion blurring using the BDP-S790 with the TCL-42ET5 and Panasonic provided passive 3D viewing glasses.

Another note I wanted to make is that I got the same 3D performance results whether going directly from the player to the TV, or routing the high-speed HDMI cables from the BDP-S790, through the Sony STR-HD830 3D-enabled home theater receiver, to the TV.

Proceed to Page 2 - Audio Performance - Internet Streaming - Final Take

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