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Sony BDP-S560 Blu-ray Player Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players
Written by Thomas Spurlin   
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Article Index
Sony BDP-S560 Blu-ray Player Review 
Performance and Blu-ray Quality
DVD Quality and Final Impressions

It’s natural to assume that technology-initiator Sony would be a market leader in the player category, though the widespread implementation of the PS3 might be a bit of a shock. For those who weren’t swayed towards using a video game machine as a high-definition unit, Sony also wedged into the mix with their BDP-S350 and S550 models – both of which are excellent players.  Naturally, Sony has followed up their previous line with the S360 and their step-up model reviewed here, the S560.  As with their other players, Sony’s BDP-S560 naturally stand up against the company’s versatile PS3 – now available as a slim, less expensive unit  -- and it does so with admirable quality, though it’s a tug-of-war between the benefits and negatives between the two.

At first glance, Sony’s player will look strikingly familiar. It carries the signature dark-blue strip at the forefront of the unit, turning into a full-length plastic flap that opens and closes with each ejection of the actual Blu-ray tray.   The unit’s length is a standard size at around 17”, which is fairly obvious by the photographs; however, it’s also a little bit taller than it looks in stock photographs, at a little over 2”, and a great deal shallower than expected at 8”.   Alongside the unit, a standard AC power cord and component cables were made available with the stock Sony remote.

Sony BDP-S560 Left Side

The S560’s appearance is a little chunkier than expected at the front, with silver buttons and the Sony logo somewhat oddly adorning the corners of the unit, but still nice-looking.  It’ll take a little while to get used to the large flip-tray, but it happens quicker than expected.  On the right hand size underneath the flap, the LED timer can be seen in a soft blue tint.  On the display, we’ve got a typical arrangement of functions, including HD indicator and HDMI status – and a Network connection indication for the wireless signal (discussed later).  Directly above the Blu-ray logo lies a soft glowing blue light, which can be adjusted in brightness along with the time coding within the XMB.

To the rear, we’ve got a fairly standard array of plugs that’ll leave a bit to be desired for some.  It contains an HDMI port, both Toslink and Coaxial legacy audio jacks, an S-Video port, as well as standard component jacks and two-channel Stereo jacks.  An Ethernet LAN connection port is also available, as well as an Extension port for BD-Live storage (discussed later).  We’ve also got a sizable ventilation hole for the internal fan, which works to keep the system running on a low-temperature, low-noise level.  What’s missing are a set of analog jacks, which will disappoint those without HDMI-enabled receivers.  This review will be utilizing the HDMI port, however, running to a bitstream-capable Onkyo TX-SR605.

Remote:

Sony’s remote is the very definition of a streamlined, bare essential unit.  It’s a compact unit that’s terribly light with nothing in the way of frills, carrying very little beyond the realm of necessity.  It offers a classic circle-based navigation button system at the center, with four circular buttons – Top Menu, Pop Up/Menu, Options, and Return – at the four diagonal corners.  The overall framework largely resembles the Blu-ray Bluetooth remote for Sony’s Playstation 3, only much lighter and smaller.  And, like that remote, it doesn’t come with a button backlight.

Sony BDP-S560 Right Side
Underneath the circular navigation lie a HOME button, as well as the assumed Skip, Fast Forward, Replay/Advance, Play, and Pause Functions.  Also available is a Display function that makes the attributes of the Blu-ray/DVD available for viewing, including the audio codec, resolution, and time coding.  At the top are the television-based numerical functions, Audio and Subtitle toggles, an Angle toggle, the four-colored Bookmark functions, and the Power button.  This remote does not include an Eject button, a negligible yet noticeable omission, or a lack of an internal zoom feature in the player.  

Setup:

Much like the framework in Sony’s Playstation 3, theBDP-S560 offers an Easy Setup function that makes getting the Blu-ray player up-and-running a snap.  After selecting the language of your choice, it runs through the TV Connection screens – where it enables selection of cables (HDMI chosen) and resolutions available.  Rounding out the Easy Setup is to allow access to the Internet via BD-Live, as well as initiating Quick Start Mode. It doesn’t cycle through the Audio portions in the Easy Setup, which can be toggled in a stripped-down variation of Sony’s now-famous Cross Media Bar (XMB).  It’s a far less fluid version of the framework, but it’s still very effective nonetheless with Setup, Music, Photo, and Video icons as the points of interest.  

When in the core XMB layout, a more in-depth Setup function can be browsed.  Underneath this label, options to adjust the Video, Audio, BD/DVD Viewing Settings, Photo Settings, System, and Network Settings are all available.  If anxiousness drove the user to skim passed the Easy Setup at the beginning, or if the user purchased the unit second-hand, it can be revisited here at any time.  Finally, as the always-recommended next step, a Network Update button is available at the top of the Setup tree.  This player was updated to software version 11.4.007 for this review, which took a negligibly lengthy timeframe to download and install.  System Settings allow for adjustment of OSD language, Dimmer (all the way to “Dark”), Control for HDMI across devices, Quick Start Mode (also changeable under the Easy Setup), Auto Power Off after 30 minutes, Auto Display, Screen Saver (On/Off), and Software Update Notification.



 
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