Not everyone needs top-of-the-line kit to do the job at hand. Sometimes you just need the basics done well.
Sony has become a near-permanent resident in the more affordable end of our Blu-ray player Awards in recent years for just that reason, and the Sony BDP-S6700 looks well-placed to try and continue that streak.
It sits in the middle of Sony’s budget player line-up (the next one up is last year’s Award winner, the Sony BDP-S7200), but rather than furnish it with a long list of features or impressive specs, Sony has directed all of its efforts towards delivering an excellent core performance for the money.
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Unfortunately this does mean it wears its affordable price tag on its sleeve. Boxy, plasticky and almost alarmingly lightweight, the design of the Sony BDP-S6700 Blu-ray player is uninspiring to say the least. Luckily it’s also small and slim enough that it can be tucked away on any rack with ease.
It’s happening more and more at this end of the market, but there’s no display on the BDP-S6700. It’s an understandable cost-saving move, but it’s one of the things we miss most on players at this price all the same.
Connectivity is kept simple but effective, with single HDMI and coaxial outs and a USB port on the front for loading media for playback.
There’s also Bluetooth on board and dual-band wi-fi, with the wi-fi module placed front and centre for the strongest connection. There’s an ethernet port too for the most stable streaming.
Alongside regular Blu-rays and DVDs, 3D Blu-ray playback is also supported for those still interested in the format.
You’ll just need to make sure you have the discs and the display to support it, as many 2016 TVs are dropping it from their spec sheets.
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Getting the player online is covered in the quick and simple on-screen set-up guide you’ll get when you first turn on the machine.
Once connected, you’ll have access to a decent selection of apps, including Amazon Video, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube, and all UK catch-up services via YouView. You can choose your favourites to pin to the homepage for quick access.
Music playback is covered off pretty well, with support for higher quality FLAC, WAV and DSD files out of the box, as well as SACDs.
It’s also DLNA-compliant for playing back content from other devices on your home network, such as a PC or NAS drive.
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Even better, with Sony’s SongPal smartphone app (Android and iOS), the BDP-S6700 can form part of a multi-room system, meaning you can push music from the player (including CDs or music from a USB stick) to other Sony products around your house, including speakers and soundbars.
You’ll have to download the Video & TV SideView app if you want to control the more standard functions of the Blu-ray player from your smartphone or tablet, but there’s a simple but effective remote included in the box as well.
Finding your way around the menus, whether playing a disc, browsing smart services, pairing Bluetooth devices or tweaking settings is easily done – the tiled homepage is well laid out and easy to navigate, while the dual-core processor ensures you’re not kept waiting.
Menus are quick and responsive, and discs load in good time.
Settling down to a Blu-ray of Guardians Of The Galaxy, the Sony BDP-S6700 wastes no time in showing us exactly where the money has been spent, with a sharp, punchy picture that’s crystal clear and free from noise.
Textures on faces and clothing are faithfully reproduced, outlines are well etched and the whole picture has real sense of depth and believability, thanks to the level of detail this player is able to display.
Colours are vibrant too, without ever appearing overdone. As Peter Quill dances his way through a murky Morag, the red glowing eyes of the Star-Lord’s helmet shine with real intensity against the dark, foreboding surroundings.
And that’s another triumph – as strong as the S6700 is with colour, it shines with dark scenes too. Shadow detail is excellent, and the way it portrays dark and light elements together without them affecting one another shows real talent too.
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Having seen what real 4K Blu-ray has to offer though, we’re not too convinced on this player’s 4K upscaling ability. It’s a sharp, detailed picture for sure, but don’t expect it to come close to the real thing in terms of colour, contrast or subtlety.
However, its upscaling does a grand job with DVDs. Although there is an expected increase in noise and a drop in detail levels, particularly in dark scenes, it still produces a wholly watchable picture that keeps colours as punchy and motion as stable as it does with Blu-ray.
The on-board streamer does a good job for this price too. It’s a stable performer that buffers quickly and provides solid playback with much of the same character as we see elsewhere.
We do notice a few more issues with motion than you will with a physical disc, and an understandable drop in insight, but that has much more to do with the limitations of streaming than it does the player.
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As for its sound, the BDP-S6700 doesn’t do a bad job at all. We might want for a touch more warmth and expression in the midrange, but it’s a balanced performance, never sounding small or thin.
In fact, bass-heavy explosions are tackled with a surprising sense of confidence, while its fast and agile character delivers good organisation to soundtracks, and shows a decent understanding of dynamics too.
This translates to its musical performance as well. We wouldn’t use it as a day-to-day CD player – there's not enough detail, here – but for casual music playback, its well-organised and enthusiastic performance gets your toes tapping.
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With the BDP-S6700, Sony has proved once again that it knows how to play the budget market to a tee, focusing on delivering an outstanding performance at a competitive price.
If you’re not ready to make the jump to 4K Blu-ray just yet, this player will make the most of your Blu-ray collection until you are, and might just leave you enough budget for a few new Blu-rays while you’re at it.
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