£240 can buy an awful lot of functionality these days.
Take this Sony BDP-S780: not only is it a player of 2D and 3D Blu-rays, DVDs, SACDs and CDs, but it also features wi-fi for connection to your home network, Skype and 2D-to-3D video upconversion.
Your smartphone can be its remote control, thanks to Apple and Android apps, and it includes a stack of online functionality such as BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm and Sony’s recently restored Qriocity music’n’movie service. Not bad for a box less than 5cm tall.
Fine performance in both 2D and 3DThe S780 has a glossy, minimal design, built and finished to the usual admirable standard. The XrossMediaBar user interface seems underpowered in the face of all the options, but the remote control is logical and the S780 is simple enough to set up.
There’s very little to criticise in the way the Sony performs, but that’s not to say we won’t try. 3D images, for instance, though bright, detailed and high-contrast, could have slightly less of the ‘layered 2D’ effect about them.
More after the break
And DVD upscaling isn’t the most accomplished we’ve ever seen, pictures being prone to their share of digital noise and shimmer.
In every other respect, though, the S780 is admirable. 2D Blu-ray pictures from Inception are vivid, poised and lavishly detailed; high-definition sound is spacious and expressive, and the Sony is adept at smoothing out the worst of the jaggedness from YouTube and the like.
Well worth the extra outlayEven the 2D-to-3D upconverting convinces – and, while we’re still to be persuaded of the merits of the concept itself, the S780 executes it well.
It’s quite difficult, these days, to buy a bad Blu-ray player – and it’s certainly possible to buy similarly enjoyable Blu-ray performance from one of Sony’s less expensive alternatives.
The inclusion of all those peripheral extras, however, makes the Sony BDP-S780 well worth the extra outlay over players at the budget end of the market. It’s fully deserving of all five stars.