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Sony BDP-S790 review

Tom Morgan
24 Mar 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
199
inc VAT

This highly specified player looks phenomenal and is bursting with features

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Sony's top-end Blu-ray player for 2013 is largely unchanged from 2012’s top model, but this isn’t a bad thing as the S790 was one of the most comprehensive Blu-ray players of last year. With Wi-Fi, Smart TV features and 4K upscaling, its feature set should please even the pickiest home cinema enthusiast.

Sony BDP-S790

Although its design is fairly restrained, especially compared to this year’s fairly radical-looking players, the BDP-S790 looks sleek and stylish thanks to a combination of brushed metal-effect plastic, round edges and touch-sensitive buttons. It also has a single-line LED display and a USB port on the front panel.

It has a fairly typical set of connection ports, although we applaud Sony for adding two HDMI video outputs as this lets you connect the player to a TV and an amplifier or projector at the same time, saving you the hassle of switching cables when you want to use different devices. It also has a composite video output for legacy devices, as well as digital optical and coaxial audio outputs, stereo RCA outputs for analogue audio, a USB port and a Fast Ethernet port. Of course, you may prefer to use its built-in Wi-Fi to connect to your network rather than its Ethernet port.

Sony BDP-S790

A major feature making a welcome return is Sony’s SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) internet portal, in virtually the same guise as the version used in Sony’s 2012 TV range. It includes access to both Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited, Sony’s on-demand movie streaming and subscription-based music download channels. SEN could give it the edge over other manufacturers, particularly if you already use Sony’s services on an Xperia smartphone or PS3 games console. LoveFilm and Netflix are also built into the player, so you have a huge choice when it comes to renting and streaming films and TV series.

Sony BDP-S790

The SEN interface has been redesigned to make it easier to navigate, with oversized tiles that are colourful and easy to read from across the room, letting you jump between apps quickly. There’s a large selection, including catch-up TV in the form of BBC iPlayer and Demand 5, streaming video from Dailymotion and YouTube, up-to-date news from Sky and Eurosport and a selection of games.

Sony BDP-S790

Jump back to the main menu and you’ll see the same XMB interface Sony has used throughout its home entertainment systems for the past few years. It’s beginning to show its age, with long lists of files proving a challenge to navigate through if you aren’t meticulous with using the correct file names, and we’re glad to hear it’s getting a facelift for 2013. We don’t know if the S790 will receive an updated interface, so for the time being you’ll have to use XMB.

Sony BDP-S790

With media split into categories, you have to jump between sections to play music, video and photos from a USB memory stick or external hard disk. The BDP-S790 played our MKV, H.264, MP4 and WMV HD videos, but it didn’t play our DivX video.

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