|Sony BDP-S570 3D Blu-ray Player Review|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Thomas Spurlin|
|Tuesday, 18 May 2010|
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First, the player underwent tests with Spears and Munsil’s Hand-Forged Audio and Video fine-tuning disc, which started the experience off on a positive note. Scaling through the black level PLUGE tests showcased a firm competence with rendering all levels of dark and light contrast, growing faintly hazy at the upper quadrants but still defined – which becomes slightly questionable when a black and white film is screened later on. Turning attention to the Clipping test showcased that the player had no problems in fleshing out either the white or RGB quadrants, showing that no color crush occurs across the board. Where an actual issue arises is with the Jaggies Deinterlacing test, which shows an odd blocking anomaly as a white bar passes across interval black and white bars. Though that’s a little on the off-putting side, the rest of the tests showcase that this player is suitably sharp, highly palette-capable, and competent in the spectrum of contrast presentation.
First film in the machine, Lionsgate’s 2.35:1 Blu-ray of The Spierig Brothers’ vampire picture Daybreakers, offers a brisk level of high-definition allure through stylishly grotesque photography and a smattering of plush color palettes. The S570 stayed step-for-step with the shifts in shade, from sterile blues and grays to radiantly baked yellows and golden hues, while also maintaining precise control over densely fluctuating contrast levels. Rich blacks in the AVC encode showcase the inky properties of the player’s grasp on stark contrast, offering indelibly creepy images with plenty of density. Then, when a splash of blood entered into the picture, the depth of the harsh reds was spot-on preserved. Audio arrives in a thunderous DTS HD Master Audio that really rocks a room, conveying billowing fire, projectile weapons, and, well, some of the grotesque sounds that wiggle in a picture like this, and they all crisply pour from Sony’s player with crisp mid-range shots and throaty bass resonance.
On the more delicate side of things, Fox’s AVC 1.78:1 encode of The Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book – grapples more subtle elements like the slight twitches in hair and the graceful movement of either a train or a helicopter in a horizon. It’s an autumn-colored picture with a lot of very dense detail, and Fox’s Blu-ray offered an insatiably detailed experience in Sony’s S570. It’s here where some of the subtle differences can be seen between this player and the PS3, where the S570 takes a few baby-steps forward in detail when rendering wheat in a field, the texture in a newspaper, and the tweed fabric in Mr. Fox’s jacket. Also, the DTS HD Master Audio’s echo-laden, atmospheric dialogue and music sounds a hare’s breath richer and more focused in the S570.
Fleshing out interpretations on its capacity to handle grayscale material, Criterion’s copy of Wings of Desire found its way into the S570 – and it finally revealed a point where it fell a little behind against its Playstation 3 brethren. The overall balance between middle-range grays and crisp whites were aptly handled in Sony’s standalone deck, but the black levels were noticeably less stable and grainier – most notable during the first library walkthrough sequence, around chapter three. They leaned more grayish and less cinematically refined, which also detracted from their dimensionality. Still, this is after looking at the image with profuse comparisons in mind, which reflects about a 10% discrepancy in black level stability. Audio, however, sounded lush and radiant through the DTS HD Master Audio track.
Rounding things out, Universal’s presentation of Battlestar Galactica’s third season tests the player’s capability to handle more complex visual content. As many know who have delved into the series, the visualization of Syfy’s series can flounder between razor-sharp sequences and murky ones with flickering contrast. Sony’s S570 preserves the detailed scenes with profuse detail and the grainy ones with accurate fogginess, though the grain structure seems minutely behind how it looks on the Playstation 3. Audio, however, is beat-for-beat just as thunderous, crisp, and intense as on the other player, carrying a minor amount of extra breadth in subtle bass elements – like the punches in the episode “Unfinished Business”.
BD-Live and BD-Java operate just as expected on Sony’s standalone deck, which is Profile 2.0 compliant. The Java-based Blu-ray content flowed the way it should in both The Criterion Collection’s subtle menu design and during the U-Control functionality on the Battlestar Galactica discs. To access audio, one must still exit out of the program and toggle the BD Audio Mix Setting to “Off” in order to incorporate sound – whether it be clicks in menus of the actual vocals in a picture-in-picture feature -- with them. Thankfully, Sony have elected to offer 1GB of on-board BD-Live storage, so it’s not necessary to hook up a USB cable to the unit.
As to be expected, the BDP-S570 is a Region A-locked machine, as tested by our ever-defeated Region B-locked copy of The Fountain. Along with that, Sony’s player also doesn’t hold the capacity to present PAL-encoded special features, as tested by Tartan UK’s presentation of I’m a Cyborg.
One of the features that this S570 is touting is the capability for 3D Playback, but this cannot be tested as of this writing. Why? Two reason: one, the firmware update that incorporates the 3D playback isn’t ready for download and integration as of yet. Sony states that this bundle of lovely will be coming sometime in Summer of 2010, but that point hasn’t arrived as of yet. Secondly, there are currently no pieces of media to really try this capability out. Indications are all pointing towards Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs arriving as one of the first titles, likely around the time when the firmware update – and the equipment to render the tech – are ready to go. Fear not, though, because plans are already in the pipes for extra-dimensional versions of many fan favorites, such as Avatar. However, this isn’t a facet that’s able to be tested right now.