The Good Nice-looking design; solid progressive-scan video performance; excellent disc compatibility; two sets of A/V and S-Video outputs; optical and coaxial digital-audio outputs.
The Bad No aspect-ratio or zoom controls; somewhat cramped remote; edge-enhanced interlaced output.
The Bottom Line A capable performer encased in WEGA-matching silver, this Sony's short feature set is its only Achilles' heel.
Joining the slew of silver DVD players on shelves and online this year is Sony's DVP-NS715P. The final P in the model number indicates progressive, and this deck is the least expensive Sony to offer a progressive-scan signal. Only digital TVs can take advantage of this feature, so if you have such a set or plan to buy one soon, this well-designed player is a good option. Be aware that the 715P costs a bit more than many progressive-scan decks--such as Toshiba's SD4800, which supports DVD-Audio (DVD-A) discs--but its smooth picture and good looks are pretty tempting. Nobody makes consumer electronics boxes look more appealing than Sony. The 715P's case stands taller than that of superslim models such as Panasonic's XP30, and it looks smartly conservative in comparison, with an upright face and a few neatly spaced buttons on its front. A shallow notch, partially covered by a translucent-plastic panel, lends the player some definition and contains an informative, pale-blue LED display. An orange light to the left of the disc drawer indicates whether the 715P's progressive-scan mode is engaged. Unfortunately, there's no button for enabling the progressive-scan mode--you must activate it by burrowing through the menu or flipping a back-panel switch.
The front-panel controls allow access to the menu system, a nice bonus for people who are prone to misplacing remotes. Sony's menus themselves are typically well designed, offering easy access to major functions--all from a single Display key. However, a tinny click that accompanies any press of the front buttons and a slow-extending disc drawer belie this player's solid look.
Less tech-savvy operators shouldn't be intimidated by the 715P's remote, a rubber-buttoned affair with a big, easy-to-reach cursor control. We were a little disappointed with the remote's ergonomics though; too many small, circular keys are spaced excessively close together, and there's no tactile difference among the sets of search/step, scan/slow, and chapter-skip buttons. You won't find Sony's high-end audio format, Super Audio CD, on the 715P's list of compatible discs--you'll have to step up to the NS755V for that. That omission gives similarly priced DVD-A-capable decks such as the Toshiba SD4800 an advantage in side-by-side comparisons. The 715P does have a couple of extra video features, though. Four presets allow less technical users to quickly change the picture, while the single, custom memory slot is a boon for advanced users.
Speaking of advanced, folks who own wide-screen, digital TVs that can't change aspect ratio with progressive-scan sources may want to choose another deck since the 715P lacks internal aspect-ratio controls. As a result, any nonanamorphic (a.k.a. enhanced for wide-screen) DVD will appear stretched--with shorter, fatter people. You won't find a zoom function on this Sony, either.
We ran the 715P though our test-disc gamut, and it played everything: VCDs, DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, DVD+RWs, and even DVD-RWs, which very few other decks can deal with. This model handled all of our MP3 CDs and displayed an onscreen menu that made finding songs relatively easy. The menu lists a whopping 32 characters of each track's filename. Unlike many MP3-capable DVD players, the 715P won't play tracks at random.
This deck's connectivity pack is difficult to beat. Two pairs of A/V outputs join a component-video output and two S-Video jacks on the rear panel. Both types of digital-audio outputs--optical and coaxial--are present. As we mentioned above, a three-way switch (interlaced, progressive, and menu selectable) is used to choose the component output mode. Overall, the 715P is a better performer than last year's DVP-NS700P. We watched progressive-scan test patterns and movie material on Samsung's TXM3098WHF TV, and the player showed improved noise reduction and better detail. In the shots from Insomnia where the plane flies over the frozen tundra, the lines in the snowy hills stayed clean and free of artifacts. In the Video Essentials test disc, the American flag's edge appeared smooth rather than jagged, and the reds were free of excessive MPEG noise.
When we switched to interlaced mode, however, we noticed that brightness increased, and, even worse, the player introduced edge enhancement into the image. Even with the Samsung's sharpness set to zero, we saw rings around the lines in test patterns. We used the player's custom setup slot to eliminate the ringing, but it shouldn't be there in the first place.
Two things that weren't so smooth were fast-forward and reverse. For some reason Sony's 2X speeds jerked rather than slid. Discs did load quickly, however, and the layer change in chapter 28 of Star Wars--Episode 2, Attack of the Clones was similarly rapid.
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' will be Disney's first 4K Blu-ray
The film's director says that having a 4K Blu-ray release is important to the themes of his Marvel Universe space opera.
4K Blu-ray player shootout: Is anything better than the Xbox One S?
The Xbox One S was one of the first devices to play 4K Blu-rays, and it's still among the cheapest. So how does it compare to dedicated 4K Blu-ray players?
Best budget Blu-ray players you can buy right now
HD Blu-ray players are cheaper than ever -- but they're not all created equal.
Sony 4K Blu-ray player might not arrive until 2017
Sony Pictures will offer several of the first software titles arriving on 4K Blu-ray, but Sony Electronics may not have a physical 4K Blu-ray player until 2017.
Golden Globes winner 'The Martian' among first 4K Blu-rays coming in March
The first 4K Blu-ray discs have become available for preorder on Amazon with pricing from $30. Here's all the discs announced so far.
2014 Blu-ray players: Which is the best and fastest?
The Samsung BD-H6500 has emerged as the quickest and best budget Blu-ray player of 2014 in a series of speed and usability tests conducted by CNET.
Sony 'mastered in 4K' Blu-rays a mixed blessing
The "mastered in 4K" name is sure to confuse many buyers this year, but Sony's special new Blu-rays are an impressive boost in quality over your average Blu-ray release.
The Weekend Blues: Blu-ray releases in brief
From crime-fighting Jesus to gimp-suit sex, from self-destructive lawyers to sword-fighting Snow White — these are the Blu-rays that you should be buying.
Should the new PS3 be your next Blu-ray player?
Sony has unveiled the slimmest and cheapest version of the PS3 yet, but is it a solid replacement for a Blu-ray player?
The Weekend Blues: Blu-ray releases in brief
From battling school students to period horror; from Josh Brolin's laconic drawl to Jason Segel's gentle depression — these are the Blu-rays you should be buying.
Blu-ray player buying guide
A Blu-ray deck will be a wise investment if your eyeballs crave crisp 1080p pictures. Allow us to help you choose the right machine.
movieIQ latest addition to BD-Live offerings
Sony is enhancing arsenal of its BD-Live features with the introduction of movieIQ, which connects viewers with a live real-time movie database powered by Gracenote.