Sony BDV-N590 review
The BDV-N590 is the first Blu-ray home cinema system we’ve seen that uses Sony's new Magnetic Fluid speaker drivers. The speakers are made from material originally developed for the space program, but Sony has refined it to create some of the thinnest speaker drivers it has ever produced. This isn’t the only futuristic thing about this all-in-one home cinema system – the main unit looks good enough to be hung on a wall rather than hidden away in a TV cabinet.
The four bookshelf satellite speakers, sizeable passive subwoofer and slim horizontal centre speaker are more down to earth in their design, but the combination of black plastic and brushed metal mesh is still very stylish. The speaker terminals on the main unit have proprietary connections, so you can’t use your own cables, but the standard spring terminals on the speakers mean you can use cable extensions if required. The subwoofer is the exception, as it uses a captive cable that can’t be easily removed.
Aside from speaker connections, the main unit is otherwise well-equipped to handle your games console or set-top box thanks to its two HDMI inputs. There’s a single HDMI output for modern TVs and a composite video output for older ones, as well as optical S/PDIF and stereo phono audio inputs, an audio calibration microphone input, FM aerial antenna and a single USB port.
From the front, you might wonder where to put your Blu-rays, as the slot-loading disc tray is recessed into the side of the system. There’s another USB port at the front and a touch-sensitive panel containing most of the important controls, for when you can’t find the remote control.
Switch the system on and the XMB interface will feel immediately familiar to PlayStation 3 owners. It separates settings, photos, music, video and online content into different columns of icons, which you navigate between using the remote control. There are plenty to choose between, from internet radio and Facebook to catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer and Demand 5. Both Netflix and LoveFilm are available for on-demand films and there’s even a full web browser if the page you’re after doesn’t have its own app.
The BDV-N590 also has you covered if you prefer to watch your own multimedia files. With integrated DLNA support, you can stream files from a networked PC or NAS device, as long as you’re online through a wired connection or the TV's integrated Wi-Fi. You can also use an external hard disk or flash drive if you have one, through either the front or rear USB ports. File format support was mostly good, with DivX and MKV files playing perfectly, but our MOV and MP4 footage refused to play.