Scarily consistent. That’s how we’d describe Sony’s recent track record when it comes to Blu-ray players.
Its budget decks have been showered with Awards and five- star ratings over the past few years, and the BDP-S7200 is the latest of a long line to come under What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision scrutiny.
MORE: Awards 2014 - Best Blu-ray players
The BDP-S7200 sits at the top of Sony’s range of Blu-ray players (there’s a choice of five machines, from £60). The other four have the Sense Of Quartz design, but the ’S7200 gets a more traditional boxy look.
The player doesn’t look any worse for it: we’re quite taken with the minimalist design. The player has also been styled this way to match nicely with Sony’s latest home cinema amplifiers (including the excellent the STR-DN1050).
The S7200 has picture processing technologies you won’t find on any of Sony’s other machines, as well as a number of audio components specific to this model.
Sony even claims that the player’s wi-fi has been improved to give greater range. Where it does fall in line with Sony’s current models is in offering 4K upscaling, intuitiveness and smart functionality.
The bulk of music and video on-demand comes under the umbrella of the Sony Entertainment Network, alongside the usual suspects such as BBC iPlayer.
There are a couple of gaps, however, notably ITV player and 4oD, which weren’t available at the time of writing. Another plus point is that the Sony supports high-res audio file compatibility including 24-bit/192kHz WAV files, FLAC and DSD.
The drawback is that not all formats are supported over a home network. FLAC and WAV are, but DSD will need to be played via an SACD disc or portable USB drive hooked up to the player.
Not the end of the world.
The Sony’s star shines brightest when it comes to sound quality: it’s entertaining, exciting and musical, impressing us when it comes to Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs.
Watching Muppets Most Wanted, the Sony handles the musical numbers with finesse – unusual at this level. During the opening song, We’re Doing A Sequel, the S7200 displays great timing and enthusiasm.
When the film moves on to dialogue-heavy scenes, Kermit and Piggy sound good, with their voices textured and natural.
The Sony also excels visually. Whether it’s the fine detail on Kermit or the fuzzy fur on Fozzie Bear, the Sony produces a stunningly realistic picture.
There’s a great sense of depth and realism to the image too. The player shows skill with the subtle and bold hues of the main characters, while lines are sharply drawn and stable.
Moving on to The Great Gatsby in 3D, the S7200 continues its excellent showing. The New York skyline is drawn superbly, and pops out of the screen with an impressive amount of detail.
The Sony can handle explosive soundtracks too: play Man Of Steel and the player hits you hard with solid, weighty and well-defined lows, with subtleties following once the action settles.
Switch to the DVD of Lincoln and the Sony does a great job upscaling to 1080p resolution. Lincoln rides through the Petersburg battlefield, enjoying solid blacks and excellent insight in the shadows.
There’s no shortage of Blu-ray players out there, but the BDP-S7200 stands out. It will be a tough one to beat.