Sony's Blu-ray lineup gets much-needed user interface redesign, much-unneeded 4K upscaling

Sony's new Blu-ray player lineup will have a redesigned user interface and and built-in Wi-Fi on all of its models.

Sony BDP-S790
Sony's BDP-S790 has built-in 4K upscaling, but it probably won't be worth paying extra for. Sony

LAS VEGAS--The first bullet point in Sony's Blu-ray press release is the one I wanted to see the most: the new Blu-ray players will feature a redesigned user interface.

That might not sound like much, but Sony's Blu-ray players have been consistently hamstrung by a subpar user interface (both at the and within apps), despite having one of the most complete suite of apps on the market. Sony's information mentions its new Blu-ray players will feature "Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and more," and we're guessing they'll also include services that were available on 2011 players, such as Amazon Instant, Vudu, and Crackle.

The breakdown of the important features is pretty simple:

BDP-S390: Wi-Fi + streaming apps
BDP-S590: Wi-Fi + streaming apps + 3D BDP-S790: Wi-Fi + streaming apps + 3D + 4K upscaling + Skype (with optional camera)

Sony BDP-S390
Sony BDP-S390 Sony
Sony BDP-S590
Sony BDP-S590 Sony
The most eyebrow-raising feature is the 4K upscaling capability, although I can't imagine it will be worth paying extra for it. It's worth remembering that any 4K HDTV released will almost certainly have built-in upscaling for lower-resolution sources, so the only advantage to having that capability in a Blu-ray player is if it performs better than the HDTV's built-in scaler. I'd bet the difference between the scalers will be pretty minimal.

If Sony's new user interface addresses the issues we've had in the past, the BDP-S390 could be an excellent buy, since it includes all the features we consider important (e.g., skip 3D) at the entry-level.

Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but the BDP-S390 and BDP-S590 are slated for a February release, with the BDP-S790 coming later in April.

 

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