BDP-S780 Sony Blu-Ray Player review

After you unbox the BDP-S780 and plug it into your TV you are ready to go on a wonderful experience.  With a fantastic Blu-ray player that also has a slew of internet apps, one of which is a web browser, plus you can convert 2D to 3D and adjust the 3D settings.  It is the fastest loading Blu-ray player I have ever tested.  However all the upsides come with some steep downside.  The web browser won’t play video, has no Flash embed, the converted 3D video still looks 2D, and the price is a bit steep ($219 as of Apr 2012).

The S780’s body is elegant and simple, nearly identical to the other Blu-ray players in Sony’s line-up. At 1.6 by 16.9 by 7.5 inches (HWD), the player is just slightly larger than Sony’s low-end player, the BDP-S380. The front panel is almost completely flat and glossy black, distinguished only by a sharp lip on the bottom edge that holds the Power button on the left side; Play, Pause, and Eject buttons on the center-right; and a USB port on the far right. On the back of the player you’ll find the basic HDMI, component, and composite video outputs, as well as coaxial and optical audio outputs, an Ethernet port, and a USB port for loading external storage.

I spoke about the internet services and there are plenty of them to go around.  You have your usual bevy of apps including Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon CinemaNow, Video Unlimited, and Vudu.  You also get Blip.tv, Digital Cinema Concert Series, Dr. Oz and a ton of others.  Much like the Sony Media Player SMP-N200 I reviewed earlier they both have a ton of internet content.

Sony for some reason decided to have an extra step when you want to connect to Hulu Plus or Netflix by having you sign up with Sony’s My Essentials, after which you’ll be able to use your existing accounts or you can start new ones.  Kind of redundant to start new accounts, if you already have one but what do I know.

Sony has created its own user interfaces for Hulu Plus and Netflix and because of that they have a very distinct advantage.  Sure they look the same but they have some differences including the fact that if you download the Android remote-control app, you will be able to use your smartphone’s QWERTY keyboard in both Hulu Plus and Netflix searches.  Which if you have used a device with Netflix or Hulu Plus you will know that a QWERTY keyboard will go a long way in searching for shows and movies.  Much like the SMP-N200 user interface is quite similar and entering text is one of the most tedious things to do.

That is just one of the BDP-S780’s UI problems.  Another one is the setup wizard comes up when you turn on the device for the first time, which is helpful—but it leaves out some important steps.  For example it asks whether it should “allow” an internet connection but it doesn’t actually help you set it up.

I must admit this Blu-ray player loaded up discs faster than I have ever seen.  It usually took less than 30 seconds to get the FBI screen on my TV.   The image quality was second to none and it didn’t seem to differ too much between discs.

I never got to test out the 3D quality since I don’t have a 3D TV so I can’t speak on that aspect of the player.  So instead I had to take this to a friend’s house that has a 3D TV so I can check out the quality, and in doing so I found out a very unique feature.  You are given an option to adjust “TV Screen Size Setting for 3D”.  Which means if you know the size of your TV the player will adjust the depth accordingly, if you try to lie to it and say either your TV is smaller or bigger the picture quality will suffer accordingly.

You also have a have an option to convert 2D to 3D, and can I just say this isn’t such the greatest idea in the world.  If the movie was to be in 3D in the first place it would have been.  Not many movies do well in the conversion process.  The action in the movie doesn’t really play well in the conversion but the menu’s and titles looked great.

If you Blu-ray discs aren’t enough and the internet entertainment isn’t enough you can enjoy your own music, photos, and videos on the BDP-S780.  It can read files off your USB drive or connect to your home network via DLNA server software.  Much like the kind you will see on the SMP-N200.

All of this requires using the remote control, which is lightweight and feels a bit flimsy. The play-control buttons (Play, Pause, Skip) sit way too far down on the remote for easy use. Sure you get some that glow in the dark which is nice. And the remote provides enough tactile differences for you to easily identify buttons by touch–after some practice, of course. You can program the remote to control various televisions, which may come in handy.

The Wrap Up

We now hand this device over to our trained staff of experts who enjoy all the bonus features on Lord of the Rings – The Blu-ray editions but still had enough time to take a look at the device.  We have the results and on the Buy It, Skip It, Flip It scale we give this a Buy It, it was almost a Flip It and the reason being is that the price tag is very hefty for this unit and you can find similar quality units for cheap.  The upside is that it does play content on a DLNA server which makes this more versatile piece of machinery, incredible load speed times, and the plethora of internet content was to overwhelming.  Go out and get yourself this device as soon as possible.

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