The Sony BDP-S500 is Sony’s current flagship Blu-ray player and with sparkling picture and sound quality it has earned its plaudits. But home cinema fans will know that picture and sound quality are only part of the story when it comes to Blu-ray players.
The Sony S500 has a sleek look, and with a motorised front drop down panel, it works sleekly too. But we felt it was looking slightly dated when compared to other models on the market. As you would expect from Sony products, it is well built but it feels like there is a lot of empty space inside the large casing as it feels slightly hollow. But it still feels quite solid and secure, so first impressions were very good.
Putting in the Blu-ray versions of Casino Royale and the first this that strikes you is the speed of the menus which are slow to the point of being annoying. However, when the discs starts to play, and you get to the first scene of Casino Royale, the quality of the BDP-S500 comes screaming out. Even when you get over the initial good impressions that you get with all Blu-ray players the picture quality remains stunning. Everything is well presented, the highlights, the deep blacks, and the detail is astonishing. In fact, CGI artists are going to have to get a lot better when there are players like the S500 out there showing up every detail.
Sound quality is stunning, and owners of one of the latest HD amps will be reasonably well catered for. The BDP-S500 will output bitstream Dolby True HD and DTS HD but not DTS-HD Master, which could be a problem.
The Sony BDP-S500 is a decent looking machine, with stunning picture and sound quality, as a way of displaying everything that’s best about the Blu-ray format the S500 is probably the best out there at the moment, and very, very slighly better than the Panasonic DMP-BD50.
What to consider before you buy the Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray Player
Things were looking so good for the Sony BDP-S500, but there are couple of real problems with the player. Firstly is the lack of DTS-HD Master sound support – quite a few recent discs have this sound format so the lack of support is a real issue. It may be added in a future firmware upgrade but be careful about investing if this is a requirement as there is no guarantee. The second is the Blu-ray profile – only version 1, not even 1.1, an certainly not the latest Profile 2 as used by the Panasonic DMP-BD50 or Playstation 3.
Why you should buy the Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray Player
We’re split by the Sony BDP-S500. Firstly we have to give 5 stars for its stunning sound and picture quality. If you are after the ultimate Blu-ray player, this is currently it. Secondly though, we can only give it 3 stars for features, because of the lack of Blu-ray profile 2 and DTS-HD Master sound. It’s quite hard to recommend a product that is starting to look as out of date as the Sony BDP-S500, but it has some pretty neat tricks up its sleeve, and when you put that first disc in, any doubts you may have had will quickly disappear.