Most helpful positive review
227 of 234 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic device, but 1st-production articles may prove frustrating to some...
on June 9, 2012
I received my player a short time ago, and so far I'm very pleased with the device. Setup wasn't totally painless, however.
I currently own four optical-disk-playing devices (not counting computer drives). I have a five-disk Sony DVD carousel, a Samsung BD player(with wireless but with minimal features, mainly Pandora, Netflix, Blockbuster, and some news headlines), a slightly older Sony BD player(BDP-570) which has, up until now, been the main unit in my entertainment center, and now this.
I'm reasonably pleased that the user interface is essentially unaltered from my earlier Sony BD device. The interface is still very easy to use, and very intuitive. It DOES, however, have the annoyance of lacking some configurability (I'd sure like to be able to remove the "Michael Jackson channel" from my list of video channels, for example, as I'll never... EVER... watch that.)
It does have a few new features accessed from that media-resources screen... the Opera web browser, a pretty decent Skype client, and a few other items. But if you've owned a Sony BD device before, the UI will be totally familiar to you, as will most of the main configuration options.
The remote control is also very similar to the older Sony remote, except that some of the special functions are now in a secondary, concentric ring around the nav-select pad... which is actually a BAD thing as far as I'm concerned, as I have found myself frequently accidentally hitting the outside ring when I'm trying to hit the inside ring, or vice-versa. Fortunately for me, I seldom use the provided remote, instead using my Logitech Harmony programmable remote... so this is not really an issue. But if you plan to use this remote as your primary control, I suspect you'll experience the same thing from time to time. Sony could have done better in this regard.
Picture quality is gorgeous, of course, as played on my 240hz Samsung 3D LEDTV. I wasn't sure that there would be any visible difference, but the image quality is notable improved, especially on upscaled DVD images. It seems that the two fast processor cores in the machine are getting a pretty robust workout... they're not being wasted! 3D is impressive, too... though I suspect this is more related to the TV than the player. (Samsung's 3D TVs are the best on the market IMHO, right now, though Sony's BD players are the best, I think!) That said, the machine never so much as "hesitates a frame" in even the most action-packed 3D scenes... which is something you'll occasionally note on lower-end 3D units, as the data streaming through them can briefly get backed up in fast, moving scenes, being rendered twice-over for each frame (once per eye, in other words).
I do not have access to a 4K display, so I have no idea if that's good or not. I suspect that 4K will tax the resources of this machine... then again, so few people have 4K displays right now, it's not worth quibbling about.
Now... if you buy one of the first units (ie, the current batch, I think!), you'll likely have a few issues when you first obtain it. The machine is designed to be network-connected, and wants to be connected. But, at least in my case, and in the case of many others, the network functionality seems somewhat hobbled under the "release firmware." You need to update the machine's firmware... after which, my machine has worked perfectly. But the device, by default, will try to "web update" itself anytime connected. Which means that you need to manually update the device, using either downloaded media (from the vendor's website), media obtained from the vendor (for a fee), or at the very least, a hard-wired network connection, in order to do your first update.
Prior to the first update, I had significant difficulties maintaining a connection... which could lead to an improper update, and a "bricked" device. Lots of other folks had the same problem. Post-update, my device works perfectly. Also pre-update, I couldn't manually enter my wireless networking info (the UI was there, but it didn't allow me to finish my setup). Post-update, that's no longer an issue.
The receiver in this device isn't tremendously powerful, and a better antenna/receiver set would be a major boon. It's basically on-par with devices built into laptops and so forth, and (post-update) works about the same as any of those. But it would be well-served by having some improved reception, since it's going to be tasked with streaming a lot of data. The reception is better than you'll get with a Roku or the like, but not as good as it ought to be for the price, and if you're not near your router, you may have some connectivity issues from time to time. It does seem to be on-par with my prior Sony device, or the built-in wireless in any of my TVs.
That's about all I can say about it right now. It's a terrific device, plays back flawlessly for any media I have access to, and just generally is the best device of its type out there right now, as far as I'm concerned. Just be careful about updating the device when you first receive it. I recommend downloading the update files and installing them without the network at all (see Sony's support site). After doing this, my network has worked flawlessly so far, and the device is separated from my router by a floor and four walls, and about fifty feet... and we have power lines nearby.
I'm very satisfied with the device so far. If that ever changes, I'll be sure to update this review, though.
Edit: Well, I've had this for a while now and have fully put it through its paces. There's one thing I thought I ought to mention.
This has the best DLNA interface I've yet to see on a consumer device. It's easy to use, functions well... but there's a problem. It only recognizes a tiny subset of my media, including very, very few of my video files... very few. And while it will recognize any MP3 file, most of my media is in WMA format, which the player won't recognize, either. So, the DLNA functionality is pretty hobbled, as far as I'm concerned. I'd love to hear the experiences of others in this regard.
No support for windows media audio and video? No support for MKV containers? These are things that really should be present in ANY contemporary media-streaming solution. Hopefully Sony can implement something (it's not a hardware issue so it MUST be a legal-rights issue!) to manage file types better in the future.
Right now, the only device I have which can make full use of my media server, with the exception of actual PCs, is my little Archos portable media player. I sure wish my Sony BD player had support for as many file times as my Archos does...
I've now had two more firmware updates since posting the above. And yesterday, I decided to play around with the network DLNA mode again. I don't know which firmware fixed this, but as of yesterday, I can now play WMA audio files with no problems.
I still can't see any of my WMV, DIVX, MOV, or other video files. The only things I CAN see, really, are the transport stream files taken directly from DVD rips, and I only have a handful of those, created off of disks I own, so that I could put those files onto my portable player (Archos 5IT, 500GB).
So... it does seem that Sony is "fixing" the DLNA issues, but a step at a time. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of my stuff... video files, etc... someday soon.