While other manufacturers have gone for the sleek-and-shiny approach, this Yamaha BD-S673 Blu-ray player has gone for the big black box look.
It’s a serious-looking machine that cuts an intimidating figure, resembling the firm’s impressive AV receivers. But is this Blu-ray player as impressive as it looks?
Yamaha BD-S673: features
In terms of specification, the Yamaha BD-S673 is nothing extraordinary. Yamaha certainly doesn’t seem too fussed about keeping an eye on the future.
It has a single HDMI output, and scales up to the standard 1080p. We won’t penalise it for not offering Ultra HD upscaling – that’s not hugely useful right now – but the twin HDMI outputs offered by its rivals have their uses. To make up for this, there are coaxial and component outputs, which is pretty rare on Blu-ray players.
The BD-S673 does connect to the internet, via ethernet or wi-fi, but we do question the point. The online offering is sparse compared with rival players such as the Sony BDP-S790 and Panasonic DMP-BDT330, with Netflix the stand-out app.
We spent a good while digging around in the menus, in case we’d managed to miss a hidden page of goodies. No such luck: the Yamaha offers only Netflix, YouTube and Picasa.
That’s your lot, and you can’t download more because there’s nothing as extravagant as smart hub or app market. Not even BBC iPlayer? Not even BBC iPlayer.
There are two USB ports, at least, so you can bring your own videos, photos and music. The Yamaha is also DLNA-certified, allowing you to stream content from a networked device.
The remote control has nicely spaced (but slightly small) buttons, and navigating the rather basic menus is a swift task as long as you point the remote directly at the Blu-ray player.
Yamaha’s AV Controller app supposedly lets you control the machine with your phone, although we couldn’t get the Blu-ray player to show up. It’s a pity, because it’s a nice app that works well with Yamaha’s AV receivers.
Yamaha BD-S673: picture
We move on from the barely smart experience, hoping that Yamaha has sacrificed features for a stonking performance. And while it might not be a stunning picture, we like what we see.
On Blu-ray and DVD, there is a good amount of detail, and colours are nicely balanced. Motion is handled well, although a slow panning shot at the start of Cowboys & Aliens is smoother on the Sony BDP-S790.
The dark scenes of The Dark Knight manage to show off the deep blacks we crave, but at the cost of dark details. During the film’s police-van ambush scene, it’s hard to make out the subtler textures of the tunnels and vehicles.
When it comes to 3D, the Yamaha impresses. We load up the opening scene of Hugo, and as the camera sweeps through Gare Montparnasse of Paris, the motion is stable and there’s an authentic sense of depth.
Yamaha BD-S673: sound
Audio performance is fine, with a wider sense of space and greater dynamic reach than with the Samsung BD-F7500.
Compared with the Sony, however, it becomes apparent that the Yamaha needs more detail, agility and refinement. There is also a slightly harsh edge to the sound, most notably in the treble, which makes it a tiring listen after a while.
Yamaha BD-S673 review: verdict
This is a middling effort from Yamaha, which is a surprise given its prowess in other areas. The BD-S673 is a decent-enough player, as long as you’re happy with just a hint of smart content.
But spend the same money elsewhere and you’ll enjoy better specifications, more features and a much better performance.
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