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Sony’s BDP-S570 also packs a punch while upconverting standard-definition DVDs, along with one very nice surprise. Along with being an ample 1080p upscaling machine, the deck supports also 24p conversion for DVDs – and the results are exciting, though nothing as high of quality as the upscaling in Pioneer’s BDP-320 or Oppo’s BDP-83. Popping in The Descent 2, an extremely dark and textured horror film, offered richness in contrast, flickers of color, and overall cinematic quality that impresses with its attenuated focus. Along with that, it also presents a powerhouse legacy Dolby Digital 5.1 track that thundered through the caverns and allowed subtiel sound effects to remain highly audible. The grunts that occur while climbing and the slight rattling of sediment underneath the climbers’ feet all slyly trickled through the speakers, throttling the bass track to distinct degrees.
For comparison’s sake, the standard-definition disc of The Fantastic Mr. Fox – included with the Blu-ray – also found its way into the player. Naturally, the colors weren’t as vivid and the details were murkier; however, the aptitude that the S570 upscaled the disc to near-HD levels were noteworthy on several levels. The hair within Mr. Fox’s coat held onto details to rather strong degrees, the warmth of the palette came closer than expected to the Blu-ray’s rendering, and the range of motion through the 24p flow credibly presented the material. On top of that, the player also managed to grapple the spacious nature of the music and line delivery much like the Blu-ray.
Sony’s player is a Region 1-locked machine, as tested by a Region 3 copy of Memories of Murder, and does not play PAL-encoded DVDs.
Media, Streaming, SACD, CD
After the player’s been rigged up for wired / wireless internet access, it’s expected for one or two of the streaming capabilities to show up underneath the Music and Audio functions – Pandora Internet Radio for Music, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon for Video. However, a slew of other options become available once you connect, and they’re … well, excessive, and undeletable. Registering for the individual services, however, can be pretty simple; to activate Netflix, you just need to go to SonyStyle, register the device, then enter an activation code to get the ball rolling. It’s similar to that process with Amazon’s download service as well.
Here’s a rundown of everything that pops up:
- VIDEO: Qriocity Video on Demand, Michael Jackson, Blip.tv, Crackle, Dr. Oz, FEARnet, Wired, epicurious, Concierge.com, Style.com, Digital Cinema Concert Series, MyPlay Music Network, Inside Sony Pictures, FordModels, DailyMotion, Howcast.com, On Networks, GolfLink, Livestrong.com, eHow.com, VideoDetective, Singing Fool, Podcasts, and Videocast.com.
- AUDIO: Berliner Philharmoniker, Slacker, Pandora Internet Radio, and National Public Radio.
Two USB 2.0 ports are offered on the deck, one on the front and another to the rear, and both are fully capable of reading photos, videos, and music files from storage devices. Each function appears where it should in the XMB, opening up a USB access link underneath each function for the desired file type. A standard photo slideshow function pops up under the Photos option, rendering photographs in decent enough quality for a home media deck – though unable to really be organized, even though time was spent offering transition effects between shots. MP3sand Videos are like-minded; the quality of mp3s, whether by memory stick or by disc media (supports most DVD-R/W and CD-R/W functions), rings true and with a polished balance within the player’s streamlined yet attractive interface.
To round out the tests on the unit, the player had one of its little “hidden” (read: unadvertised) earmarks tested: SACD playback, along with standard CD playback. An option from the Audio section allows the user to pick which layer from the SACD they wish to play, which includes the full-resolution layer. Select tracks were plucked from the 2L – The Nordic Sound audiophile discs, both the Blu-ray and the SACD disc, namely Tracks 1 (Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4 In D Major Kv 218), 4 (Åm: Vere Meininga), and 5 (Crux Fidelis). Naturally, the crispness and clarity from the Blu-ray disc’s assortment of high-definition masters trumped its lower-resolution counterpart, but the clarity resonated true and stable with the SACD and CD layer. The flutter of violins, the gentle plucks of the harp, and the velvety, deep projection of the Gregorian chants hit strong balances with the listening sessions.