Sony BDP-S490 review

This budget spinner is a Blu-ray stunner Tested at £110

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

If you're looking for a budget disc-spinner that offers excellent picture quality and also plays 3D films, this is ideal


  • +

    Clear and crisp detail

  • +

    natural colour

  • +

    3D playback

  • +

    strong sound

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    loads of online content


  • -

    No integrated Wi-Fi

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

At our 2012 Awards, Sony dominated the Blu-ray category with its BDP-S390 and BDP-S790 at either end of the range. Both are excellent performers at their respective price points.

In the middle sits the Sony BDP-S490 – another budget machine, but with a different emphasis as far as features are concerned. It loses the wi-fi ability of its cheaper brother, but counters by adding 3D playback.

So that’s where we start. In 3D mode, watching Avatar, there’s a hint of blurring at some points, but for the most part motion is stable and smooth enough to let you enjoy a full-length 3D feature without your eyes straining.

Sony BDP-S490

Sony BDP-S490: Picture quality
Picture quality is as close to the BDP-S390 as can be. There’s a remarkable amount of detail revealed. Play a Blu-ray of BBC’s Sherlock, in 2D this time, and it’s clear and has good detail definition. In fact, we’d say that the S490 is marginally crisper and more confident with its detail in 2D than the S390 when it comes to 2D footage.

Colours are subtle, with real care given to textures and skin tones, and contrast is lovely thanks to clean whites that are complemented by pleasingly deep blacks. The performance also remains consistent when upscaling a DVD.

There’s a slight difference in sound between the two players, too. The S490 sounds a touch stronger and more robust than the S390, with good attention given to dialogue. There’s even support for SACD playback.

Sony BDP-S490: Smart featuresSince there’s no built-in wi-fi, you’ll need to use the ethernet port for accessing the Sony Entertainment Network, which is filled to the brim with content, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, LoveFilm and more. It’s easy to navigate too, whether you’re using the remote or the free remote app.

It’s another five stars for Sony, then: with such enjoyable and detailed picture quality at such an affordable price, the BDP-S490 is yet another terrific product.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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