Editors' note: We updated this review to reflect the BDP-S570's features and streaming-video performance using the latest firmware available August 2, 2010.
When 3D was rolled out at CES 2010, it seemed clear that 3D playback on Blu-ray players would be limited to flagship models in the $400 range. That is, until Sony announced in February that all players from the BDP-S470 up would get a 3D upgrade in the summer. 3D was commoditized before it even got started.
The Sony BDP-S570 isn't the cheapest 3D Blu-ray player from Sony (that would be the $200 BDP-S470), but it's the only model in its price range to offer 3D compatibility. It has all the major features we expect on midrange Blu-ray players, including built-in Wi-Fi and a full suite of streaming media services (including Netflix, Amazon VOD, YouTube, and Slacker), plus some interesting extras like SACD playback and Gracenote support. It's also the fastest player we've ever tested, handily beating out the Oppo BDP-83 on nearly all our operational speed tests. Many of our initial gripes with the BDP-S570 have been fixed by firmware updates; Pandora, DLNA, and 3D compatibility are all available now. On the other hand, though the BDP-S570's Netflix image quality is noticeably improved compared with when we first tested it, we still found wireless-streaming performance to be inconsistent, with too many "network errors" and dropped connections compared with other players we've tested in the same environment. The BDP-S570 at least theoretically has the best combination of value, features, and performance at the midrange price level, but a lot of that depends on whether its wireless connectivity works consistently in your home theater.
The BDP-S570 manages to look sleek without resorting to the flip-down panels that are becoming more common on Blu-ray players. The front panel is all glossy black, with an indent running along the bottom where the front panel controls and USB port are located. The controls are a unique hybrid between touch-sensitive buttons and standard physical buttons; there's no large button like on most players, but there are small nubs that give you physical feedback. They strike a good balance between style and usability. The lack of a flip-down panel also means the BDP-S570's look isn't compromised if you wind up using that front panel USB port.
The included remote is nearly identical to the one included with last year's Sony Blu-ray players, with one major exception--Sony's brought back the eject button. The rest of the layout is well-thought-out, too, with the directional pad falling easily under our thumb and play controls given their own area toward the bottom.
The BDP-S570 can also be controlled using Sony's "BD remote" iPhone app. The idea is great, as there are quite a few times when we'd rather enter text using the iPhone's touch-keyboard instead of the standard remote via an onscreen keyboard. Unfortunately, the BD remote app's execution isn't quite right. The iPhone's screen doesn't replicate what's on your HDTV, so you're forced to look down at your iPhone to press a button, then look back at your HDTV to see the response. We're excited to see the next-generation implementation of this idea--especially if Sony can get the onscreen menus to show up on the phone--but in its current incarnation, we don't consider it a particularly worthwhile feature.
Like nearly all Sony products these days, the BDP-S570 uses a version of the XMB interface. We're fans of the design, although there's a slight learning curve up front to get the logic of the layout. Different media types (music, photos, videos) are laid out horizontally, along with the setup menu. The most important thing is that navigation feels zippy (although not as quick as a PS3), so you can quickly get around the menu.
Blu-ray playback is lumped in with all streaming media services under the Video icon. Our biggest gripe with the video section is that Sony didn't use a lot of discretion when picking services; there's a lot of nonessential streaming video services that would be better grouped into a folder like "more services." On the upside, main services like Netflix, Amazon VOD and YouTube are grouped at the top for easy access. There's also an icon marked "coming soon" for "Qriocity," which is the (confusing) name for Sony's forthcoming on-demand video service. Sony includes a cross-platform video search function, but it doesn't worth with Netflix, Amazon or YouTube, which dilutes most of its utility.
|Key Blu-ray features|
|3D Blu-ray||Yes||Onboard memory||1GB|
The BDP-S570's current key features are also strong. Built-in Wi-Fi is nice, although not the standout feature it was last year, since nearly every competing player has it at this price level. 1GB of onboard storage gives the BDP-S570 a leg up over the competing LG BD570, and allows owners to access BD-Live features without needed a separate USB memory drive.