832 of 900 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
[This is a long review warranted by the number of features of the BDP-S580. I want to try to provide as much relevant information as I can in an attempt to make this as useful to you as possible. If you only want a one line "this is great" review, I apologize, but some folks like details :) I know I do.]
IMPORTANT NOTE: I have added a number of updates and edits over time to keep this review up to date. Be sure to check those as they can show resolutions to earlier problems I experienced. Typically I left the original issues in place in the review, followed by an Edit with a resolution, so that other people running into the same problem may be able to find answers.
This was bought to replace an older Sharp HP20U Blu-Ray player and some of the features of a DLink DSM-520 network media player. After also having owned the Sony BDP-S570 (the prior model to the S580) for a short while as a first replacement effort, I decided to return that and get this newer BDP-S580 model instead in the hope they might eventually fix or improve on a lot of the DLNA flaws in the 570.
Let me say up front that I do like this unit, but have some concerns.
I am running wired connection over gigabit LAN with CAT6, although this device only has a 100M ethernet connection, and use the fastest available Charter service where I typically get 15 to 28 Mbps download speed at any given time. I am using HDMI connections through a receiver to a Sharp 1080p TV.
First the good...
1) Blu-ray load times are far faster than many other devices out there. This was one of the main points I wanted to get with the unit. In fact the prior BDP-S570 release is still one of CNET's fastest ever loaders, even with the 'quick start' feature turned off, and this is comparable. I do recommend leaving the fast-start option off in general in order to save energy; the money cost of keeping the device in a kind of startup mode is not worth it if the player can get up to speed quite quickly anyway. As a load speed test, I used the "Avatar" BD, the worst loader by a long shot among disks I own. Avator took over 5 minutes to get to the main menu screen on my old Sharp, and on the Sony it gets to the main menu in around 2 mins 50 secs. This is still not quick, but remember that this is the worst loader I have ever seen. Other BDs such as "Master and Commander", "Cars", or "300" all got to their menus within around 30 secs, and by getting to the main menu, I mean it had to go through all the FBI copyright warnings etc.
2) The unit is quiet when playing a disk. Not silent, but seems better than the S570 and far better than the old Sharp. Note that when you leave a disk in while using other features of the s580, it still makes some noise as if it is always keeping the BD ready to go. I suppose this is no bad idea for a quick launch when you choose the BD from the menu system.
3) The BDP-S580 uses Sony's standard XDB interface that can be found on the PS3, PSP etc. I like it but some don't. In my opinion it is quick, clean, simple to navigate, and this particular device seems to respond very quickly when scrolling the icons/options (some have seemed more sluggish).
4) I had no issues with buffering, stuttering or pausing during playback of online video. I used Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, YouTube, and the Hulu Plus free HD video to test. No issues during playback of online audio either using Pandora, NPR, Slacker. However, please see notes below in the 'bad' section that relate to actually getting the streaming to start...
5) DLNA playback of Audio files is good and the interface is fast and responsive. Much faster than the Dlink DSM-520. All files have played great so far, and include .wma and .mp3 formats. Note that this comment is in regard to AUDIO FILES ONLY, see the 'bad' section for my thoughts on VIDEO files across DLNA...
6) Picture quality from BD is better than my Sharp player. I believe this is largely due to the deep color system that Sony uses. In fact there are several levels of color depth you can choose if you feel inclined to do so (I just left mine on the Auto setting)
7) Upconversion of standard DVDs is excellent. Most BD players that upconvert DVDs do it well, and this is no exception.
8) The "direct attach" USB drive option is improved in the S580 over the S570. This is where you use some kind of external USB drive - portable drive, desktop storage or even USB stick - and plug it directly into the USB port on the S580 to access files on it. There are 2 USB ports on the S580 which is helpful, one front, one rear. With the 570 you could only use FAT formatted drives which are generally not a great idea, but the S580 is now improved to allow use of NTFS formatted drives.
9) It has a general Internet Browser. This is useful but limited. I have run into issues where pages are not very navigable (msn.com) or where they fail with a reported 'page is too big' error (hulu.com). Where possible, using 'mobile' versions of the web page tends to be best.
10) You can pair this player to a compatible TV etc to allow one to control the other via HDMI. I turned this off to reduce 'overhead' since it will do nothing for me with my Sharp TV and receiver, but I wanted to note this.
11) Media types that can be played from a directly attached USB drive are numerous, and include the following (taken from the Sony BDP-S580 manual as of 3/25/11 - take note of the "*" numbers and check the info underneath!):
VIDEO File format Extensions:
MPEG-1 Video/PS*1*2, MPEG-2 Video/PS, TS*1*3 (".mpg," ".mpeg,",".m2ts," ".mts")
MPEG-4 AVC*1*2 (".mkv," ".mp4,",".m4v," ".m2ts,",".mts")
WMV9*1*2 (".wmv," ".asf")
AUDIO File format Extensions:
MP3 (MPEG-1 AudioLayer III) (".mp3")
WMA9 Standard*1*2*5 (".wma")
PHOTO File format Extensions:
JPEG (".jpg," ".jpeg")
What the *Notes mean:
*1 The player does not play coded files such as DRM.
*2 The player does not play this file format on a DLNA server.
*3 The player can only play standard definition video on a DLNA server.
*4 The player plays AVCHD format files that are recorded on a digital video camera, etc. The
AVCHD format disc will not play if it has not been correctly finalized.
*5 The player does not play coded files such as Lossless.
Now the not so good...
1) I wanted this to be a replacement for my old DSM-520 network media player. I knew from bad experience with the s570 that this would not be possible, and you can see from the list of formats above with the *2 note against them that Sony does not expect those to play. Essentially MPEG2 and a subset of AVI are the only video formats that 'might' work. These notes here are to warn others, and don't directly affect my rating since I expected it, although I am hoping future firmware releases might improve the offering. While the s580 is DLNA certified, this means that it essentially only needs to be able to play a VERY minimum range of video formats, and even then, depending on things such as the specific codecs used, it still might not work. I have a number of video files in several different formats - none of which will even be seen to allow me to try to play. This includes .mp4, .vob, .iso, .avi, .m4v, .wmv all shared from a Iomega network storage device pushing out via a built in media server. [see edit below]
[EDIT 4/2/11] After getting a replacement unit, I am now able to see and play .mpg, .mp4(when renamed to .mpg), some .wmv, some .avi, all .vob. My original lemon would not let me even see these, now I can see and play. I am leaving the original note in place to help others who might run into the same problem.
Assuming you have a number of different format video files, if you want to be able to play ALL of your video files across your network to the BDP-S580, you will either need to use a media server that will transcode your files on the fly to something like MPEG2, manually convert all your media to a format that is supported (prohibitively annoying for most people) or get a different network media player instead of this.
(A reminder: the above note is really only regarding Video files on DLNA. My music files all behave beautifully so far, and include .wma and .mp3)
2) Playing of online video files. As I mentioned previously, playing online video files is great, but getting to them or getting them to start can be quite a slog. For some reason it takes ages (well, maybe 1-3 minutes) to get them to start. I'm not sure what the issue is. I'm running wired, not wireless. When I get the media playing I can see that I am getting over 18Mbps consistent download speed. When it runs, it can play high def files with no apparent issues. Its just connecting to the individual services, and in some cases opening the files when you get there, that takes so long. What's odd - again - is that I don't recall this being a problem with the BDP-S570 (the OLD model). I did set a static IP address and network info just in case it helped, as mentioned by another reviewer, but it made no difference for me. [see edit below]
[EDIT 4/4/11] This issue has been resolved by assigning a free public DNS server (22.214.171.124) as my primary DNS server in the network configuration. Originally I had this set to my local DNS server (my 192.168.x.x router). I don't know why this would really make a difference and I have never had any other issues with my DLink DIR-655 router serving as my DNS server before, however this does indeed resolve my problem. I no longer have any connectivity issues when connecting to the online video services like Amazon, Crackle or Hulu. I am leaving the original note in place to help others who might run into the same problem.
3) I have seen notes on CNET and elsewhere that BD-Live disks take a lot longer to connect up and start on the 580 than on other models. I did not see this noted for the 570, so this might be related to note 2 above. The S580 has no internal memory, whereas the prior S570 had 1GB built in RAM which perhaps explains the connectivity issue?
4) I could not upgrade my firmware over wired network. It would see it and try to download it, but would eventually give a network connectivity error despite the fact that everything else was able to run OK. I updated to the latest firmware using the CD method from the Sony website. Again, possibly related to item 2 - failing in the connection portion?
[EDIT 4/2/11] After getting a replacement unit, I was able to upgrade firmware over the network. I am leaving the original note in place to help others who might run into the same problem.
5) Worth noting that as well as losing the internal 1GB RAM, you also lose the ability to output high def signal over component cable. Others have noted this too, and it is a fair point, but this affects *ALL* BD players built since 1/1/2011. This does not concern me as I use HDMI.
6) [5/13/11] The description on Amazon says that this unit can stream live sports, however no channels or live sport content appears to exist as of this time.
So overall I like the unit despite it's shortcomings, and basically those (to me) can be summarized as peculiar network connectivity issues where the initial connections were slow (EDIT: workaround is to add a static DNS server), and the poor implementation of the DLNA media player. The DLNA issue is especially annoying since it will play many more file types from attached-USB than it will across the network, so I know the player can handle them. As I said earlier I don't reject it because of this (I expected it from all my research and testing of the prior s570 model) but it is so close to being right that it is a shame. Hopefully this will be improved over time with firmware upgrades, but I won't hold my breath.
I have not tested Netflix or services other than those mentioned above yet, and if I do I will update this review. Likewise, I will update as I find new "quirks", good or bad. Finally, it is likely I will try to get another S570 and possibly a replacement for this S580. The first is to confirm what I recall from the comparison, and the second to make sure I don't just have a lemon network interface in my unit. I almost get the feeling its something like that.
Feel free to comment to ask me a question!
Got the wireless up and running, and although it is indeed wireless N the performance isn't great. My DLink DIR-655 router is running in native N mode (i.e. only N and not a combination of b/g/n etc). Wireless signal is weaker that it should be given where it is in my setup. With 2.4Ghz frequency - which I understand as being the 'single band' rather than newer, stronger 'dual band' implementation of Wireless N - I was expecting some drop off, but it was worse than I thought. Performance was OK but noticeably slower than the wired when connecting to the online services (Amazon, YouTube and Crackle in my test), which is a little odd. Even if I was only getting a poor 20Mbps from the S580 to my router (and it should be a lot more than that [more testing to come]) that is almost enough to match my inbound ISP connection, which as mentioned before is typically 15-28Mbps, and one would therefore not expect such a significant difference over wired. One reason for testing the wireless was to see if it actually performed better than wired, in the event that the wired connection might be bad, but I just managed to prove that the wireless is worse than my wired. Might still have a lemon with regards to networking, or this might be the norm for the s580.
Some updates on the slowness of the S580 regarding connecting to internet video... When powering on, I cannot even access any internet service for over 2:15 (2 mins 15 secs). Trying to access any of the services during that time results in a "Checking the network connection, please wait" message and it drops back to the main menu. Once that is finally up and running, getting to the main menus for the following services took:
Crackle : 2:28, Amazon Video : 3:00, Hulu Plus : approx 1:00 (stopwatch issues, but it was about that)
Once connected, and after selecting a video, it took sbout 48-55 seconds to start numerous TV episodes (Doctor Who, Red Dwarf) on Amazon, and 1:28 to start a sample Family Guy episode on Hulu Plus.
As mentioned in my original review, I get no issues once the playback begins - no buffering or stuttering at all in any of my tests. It is just the connection time to the service and the video.
Now here's where it gets weird. After some time of playing around, the apps started to load up much faster, e.g. Amazon loading in approx 5 seconds rather than 3 minutes. The time to starting streaming of the episodes also improved across the board. I'm not sure why this would be the case.
For any of these internet video services, the 'icons' you click on to select e.g. "TV Episodes" or "Current Movies" don't always appear correctly on the screen. Superficial, but odd. It seems like the ones you have clicked on previously are the ones that don't look right, and this can be problematic where the name is normally shown on the icon but now it is not visible - you need to highlight it and see what it shows at the bottom of the screen. I had noticed this the other day but forgot to mention in my original review.
Lastly, when trying to "resume" a movie on Amazon (Mask HD), it actually locked up the unit. I had to physically pull the cable from the wall to shut it down and reboot it.
** Additionally I also re-verified against an S570 using the same setup on my network with the same wired network connection (even used the same cable to be sure). I can confirm the following:
-Yes, the S570 loads up faster, and is very slightly louder than the S580.
-Yes, the S570 is WAAAYYY faster connecting to any internet video connections, and you can access them almost as soon as you turn the device on (no 2:15 wait). Crackle: 0:07 (7 secs!), Amazon: 0:07, Hulu Plus 0:04.
-No, the S570 does not have a general internet browser like the S580 does.
I will be sending the S580 back ASAP on the assumption I have a lemon and will update to confirm when I have tested the replacement.
I received the replacement and its a lot of good news and some bad news:
1) New S580 WAS able to update the firmware over the internet (had to use manual CD method for original)
2) New S580 is now able to see and play several video formats over DLNA from my net media player (none with original unit). Actually it worked with even more than I expected based on the specs from Sony (played some AVIs, all WMV, MP4 when renamed to MPG, all VOB)
3) New S580 is SOMETIMES faster to get to the online media services, but other times I get "A network error occurred" message after around 1:15 which never happened on the original. Generally though, connecting speed is about the same. Hardcoding the IP address/network settings still doesn't make a difference for me.
This is great news since it proves my original unit was defective regarding it's network interface in some way, although when it works it is still slower than I believe it ought to be. The S570 is almost instant connection to the online media services (around 5 secs) so why is the S580 so much worse? This remains true even when I attach a USB stick in an attempt to give it some kind of pseudo memory to use should it need it (trying to make up somewhat for the 1GB taken out that the S570 has)
If you experience bad network issues like I did, I would strongly recommend getting a replacement. I can see at least one other review here where the same issues I had exist. I'm torn now between the S570 or this S580 (570=so much faster to access online, 580=almost unusable connect times to online video, NTFS format USB support, internet browser, newer so more likely to get useful firmware fixes)
I will add portions of this update into my original review to identify where the bad unit was at fault.
Connection issues have been resolved! Adding a secondary DNS server of 126.96.36.199 sped up the connections to the network video services, but it still took approx 30-40 seconds. Going one step further and switching my primary DNS server from my local router to be 188.8.131.52 enabled almost instant connections to be established. I'm not sure exactly why this made a difference since using my local DNS worked fine for the S570 and all my other network items, but this odd workaround did indeed resolve the issue. Connecting to Amazon, Crackle and Hulu all take approx 5 seconds now, and starting videos from any of these sites no longer results in startup delays like before. I no longer have any reservations in highly recommending the BDP-S580.
Assuming this remains the same, I will keep the S580 since the only drawback of this over the S570 has been removed.
On a hunch I tried to re-run the Avatar blu-ray disk now that the networking issue is resolved, and this time it came to the main menu in under 1:40 rather than the previous 2:50. I guess this is due to the BD Live content check which I think this disk does every time you start this one up, so I suspect that any other BD Live content disks might also be speeded up as a result. Excellent news.
I definitely recommend getting the free "Media Remote" app if you have a suitable phone. Without this the keyboard entry mechanism using the included remote is too painful for any kind of substantial use, e.g. for entering search criteria in YouTube. Nice to be able to use a regular keypad format from the phone.
1) After playing around some more with the online Music channels, I'm still very happy with them. Pandora is good and responsive, setting up new stations is easy (I do highly recommend the Media Remote for any text entry) and the results are good. The Slacker radio channel is also good and responsive, as is the 2010 Lollapalooza channel (which is actually Slacker-powered). The Berlin Philharmonic channel looks interesting with numerous recorded live concerts/pieces but you need an account to access them. NPR Radio channel was a little disappointing in that you can only access previously recorded segments rather than true online radio, but still useful. All in all, still nothing bad to say about any of the online audio channels.
2) With regards to the weak DLNA support, I am finding that with many of my files I am unable to do anything other than play, pause or stop them. If I try to FWD or RWD through them either it does nothing and says the "option is not supported" or it flies through so fast that after you press the FWD button, within a second it hits end of the file and drops me back to the menu system as if the movie finished. It doesn't even provide a timeline that you can scroll against like you can with online video content in e.g. Hulu Plus or Amazon. Very annoying. So at this point I'm reluctant to use any features other than just Play, Pause or Stop on my DLNA shared media and will just keep hoping that eventually Sony will release a firmware fix to improve DLNA support. Its interesting to note that some files - specifically some VOBs - behave better and allow useful FWD to at least get to some specific point, so again, the possibility and functionality is there but poorly implemented. Note that this problem does not seem to happen on USB attached files, only over DLNA network share.
I have now spent a lot of time exploring the various free video channels. That is to say most of them with the exception of Vudu (for this I did browse the interface but didn't run any programs - it looked nice but seemed to be the most sluggish channel menu), Netflix and Sony's own Qriosity. Everything is working very well except for one podcast area I came across for Code Monkeys, which might have actually been an issue with the hosting server. Points of note include the uStudio channel which has some nice short HD "natural world/landcape" shows (quality was very good, but not as good as a true blu-ray), Golflink is interesting if you're into golf at all, Billabong had some great short videos that you'll probably only ever watch once or might use to show the S580 off to friends, and videocast.com which was probably my favorite of the lot. The "How" channels can be informative if you're looking for something (How.com, Howcast). Generally though we're settled into using the S580 for playing blu-rays and accessing Amazon VOD, Hulu Plus free movies, streaming from my DLNA device, and the occasional YouTube hit or Crackle episode. Still loving the device and highly recommend it.
Based on a comment to this review (thanks Trevor) I see that the product description and Technical Details both indicate that the S580 can play online content "including movies, TV episodes, videos, music, and live sports from Netflix, YouTube, HuluPlus, Pandora and more". While this seems to be mostly true, there don't actually appear to be any LIVE SPORTS channels or content at this time. Either the description is incorrect or the channels are in development. You might perhaps be able to theoretically access some using the Internet Browser but I suspect the interface is so limited it wouldn't support the streaming format. Take note if this is something you're especially interested in, and I will update if/when I see any live sports channels appear, e.g. MLB.TV or something similar.
I came across a slightly different supported Video list from the Sony site, from their marketing specifications updated 3/23/11.
I want to point it out because although it APPEARS to clearly detail the apparent media types supported for each format, IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE CORRECT. Note that several of these items directly contradict the Operating Instruction specs shown earlier in my review, such as running AVCHD from DLNA - it says here it can, but in the Operating Instructions it explicitly says it isn't supported. I can also personally confirm that some of the items listed here are NOT correct, such as mkv, mp4 over DLNA. Therefore if you see this info elsewhere and want these features, be sure to verify it actually does what you want before the return period runs out!
AVCHD Disc Format Forlder: BD/DVD/CD/USB/DLNA
MPEG-1 Video/PS (.mpg .mpeg, .m2ts,.mts): BD/DVD/CD/USB/DLNA
MPEG-2 Video/PS, TS ( .mpg.mpeg, .m2ts,.mts): BD/DVD/CD/USB/DLNA
MPEG-4 AVC (.mkv, .mp4, .m4v, .m2ts,.mts): BD/DVD/CD/USB/DLNA
WMV9 (.wmv, .asf): BD/DVD/CD/USB/DLNA
I previously reported a possible issue with playback of Sherlock Holmes BD at high volume. I traced the issue to a a bad speaker in my setup which was causing my receiver to overload. Replaced the speaker and all is well, still no issues with playback of any disks.
The original erroneous report has been removed.
IMPORTANT REMINDER - If you ever set the BDP-S580 up and then return the item for any reason (Amazon or elsewhere) make sure you disassociate it from any linked accounts you setup. At the very least, you will need to go to the Sony Bravia site and remove the device from the account you setup when accessing the internet the first time, otherwise anyone else who purchases or uses the same unit in the future will have access to e.g. your Amazon Prime account and will be able to potentially order pay movies against your account. Same goes for Pandora, Hulu accounts etc. With Pandora we had to change our password since there didn't seem to be any way to easily unlink/undefine the settings, although maybe performing a "Reset BD" option from the Sony menu might have taken care of the stored password?
62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
I will try to be as objective in this review as possible. I used PS3 as my bluray player for some time, but recently the HDMI port went bad and component cable did not do much for a picture on my 60" Sony. Therefore, I decided to get a separate bluray, decided on this one, and got it about 6 weeks ago. I should have trust the reviews here more...
The bluray player is great, loads fast and looks cool - no problems with that. So far I have not find a bluray disk that would not play. On 60" LCD the picture looks amazing - I would say even better than it looked on PS3, but my PS3 is a first model (old fat one). I have the sound only through HDMI and TV, so I cannot say much about the sound quality, but for me it's ok too.
However, as many here have stated, streaming is a totally different story. I have tried every conceivable fix I could think of or found online to make this unit work wirelessly, and I also spent the last few weeks with Sony support to no avail. I have assigned both dynamic and static IP addresses, changed DNS server setting, put the bluray into DMZ zone on my router...no luck. Whatever I did, the unit would drop network connection several times through the Netflix movie. I have 20Mbps down, so the bandwidth should be sufficient. I tried moving the player closer to the router, made sure that no one else in the house is using internet - still the same. The only time this unit was able to hold the connection was when I used wired connection - but, I wanted the wireless on this player since it's supposed to be used in the living room one story below the router. Per advice of the product support guy (who, by the way, confirmed that this player has no internal memory so in case of even a slight connection hick-up there is no buffer to get the data from so the connection just drops) I bought, very hopeful, powerline network adapters, essentially turning what is supposed to be wireless product into wired. And guess what, even with the powerline adapters, this bluray drops the connection. I'm not sure if I was just lucky to play that one show while having a wired connection between the player and the router, but I am convinced this thing is doomed.
Sony support is of no help - I can send it over for repairs and wait a few weeks for the unit to be evaluated (Sony term, not mine). Since I have no confidence in this unit being adequately repaired, I will just keep it as a bluray player (too late to return it) and forget the streaming (or just use one of my gaming consoles in the house that work flawlessly). I am not quite happy about it, but I guess I had to learn my lesson.
With that said, I'll repeat what many others have said - if you want a bluray that would stream, and you have a way to use wired connection (why would one buy wireless at the first place then I don't know), consider it. If you want a player that will give you hours and hours of troubleshooting enjoyment, challenge every bit of patience while you are hanging on a line waiting for Sony support to read through the same file for a millionth time, consider it. But, if you want a player that would work wirelessly without dropping connection so you can at least make it through one movie without having to restart it 5 - 6 times at least, look elsewhere.