Sony badly fumbled the ball with its early stand-alone Blu-ray players. But the company has slowly been catching up with the competition ever since. Now, with the £330 BDP-S760, it's surged ahead of the pack for the very first time, at least when it comes to AV quality.
The BDP-S760 isn't aesthetically brilliant, though. It's all very shiny, but the finish feels rather plasticky, and the drop-down smoked-plastic screen over the front is about as original as cake.
The player starts making a better impression once you get to its connections. Our eye was immediately caught, for instance, by the headphone jack on the front. This is quite an unusual feature to find on a Blu-ray player, but the BDP-S760 doesn't stop there. Sony has attempted to provide a 7.1-channel surround-sound experience when listening to the deck through headphones, although it is, admittedly, fairly limited.
There are two USB sockets, too -- one on the front for playing back JPEG photos from USB storage devices, and one on the back for attaching a USB hard disk to provide the BDP-S760 with extra memory.
The deck also carries 7.1-channel analogue audio outputs for outputting decoded high-definition audio (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD) to AV receivers that don't have their own HD decoding built in. There's also an Ethernet jack, as we'd expect with pretty much any Blu-ray player these days. The Ethernet socket allows you to access Blu-ray's online PC via either the Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections.functions, as does the built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. You can also access JPEGs on your
Logging the BDP-S760 onto your network is a doddle -- pretty much everything happens seamlessly behind the scenes. There will always be some routers somewhere that might cause a problem with the BDP-S760, but we suspect they'll be few and far between.
With LG's BD390 still fresh in our minds, we should point out that it's much more multimedia-savvy than the BDP-S760 in terms of the sheer number of different file types it can handle. The BD390 also lets you access YouTube online, while the BDP-S760 doesn't. In fact, the BDP-S760 doesn't even let you access the currently rather unimpressive Sony AppliCast online system that's available on some of the company's TVs.
The BD390 also highlights another shortcoming of the BDP-S760. While the BD390 has 1GB of built-in memory for use with BD-Live, the BDP-S760 has none. Instead, you're expected to introduce memory yourself via the rear USB port, using a not-included USB storage device.