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Onkyo BD-SP809 Blu-ray Player review: Onkyo BD-SP809 Blu-ray Player

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The Good Excellent build quality. Very good automatic scan conversion. Dual HDMI output allows 3D use with older AV receiver. Region Free DVD.

The Bad Limited audio streaming formats. Fairly expensive.

The Bottom Line The Onkyo BD-SP809 is a premium Blu-ray player with solid build and good performance but a fairly limited new media feature set.

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6.4 Overall

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The price of the Onkyo BD-SP809 Blu-ray player would suggest that this is a premium model, and within the conventions of this product group — specialist home entertainment companies — it most certainly is. For 'premium' here doesn't mean 'feature-packed'. It means quality build, first class electronic components and the kinds of adjustments that enthusiasts like.

Well, it certainly has the build. This is a beautifully made unit, weighing a very hefty 4.7 kilograms.


There was an interesting diversion during the setup of this player. It has two HDMI outputs, one labelled 'main' and the other 'sub'. For obvious reasons I connected the first. But I got no picture. I fiddled with various things, but no go. The settings to change the relevant HDMI output require the use of the on screen display. In the end I had to resort to using the sub output.

It was interesting because resolving the issue once again shows how modern consumer electronics devices are, basically, computers in pretty boxes. In this case, well built ones as well. It turned out that through some error this unit had the firmware for a different model installed. A 36MB download and update fixed all that. In a way, it is perhaps surprising that it worked at all previously.

Anyway, the reason for having two HDMI outputs is so that if you're using a home theatre receiver that is incompatible with 3D, you can send the audio to it using the sub output, and the picture to your 3D TV using the main.

As delivered the player supports region free DVD playback. But only Region B Blu-ray of course. This former is a kind of unofficial feature, and quite useful if you have any foreign DVDs. Occasionally with Blu-ray players new firmware versions are released, mostly to support new Blu-ray discs (the disc makers' do some strange things to their movies to try to limit piracy). The firmware installed in the player on delivery was 1.31.06. The online update is numbered 1.83.00. I don't know the numbering conventions, but that did seem like a big jump.

While I normally update firmware to the latest version before reviews, I was advised that doing so would plaster across the home screen display in huge letters the word "unofficial". Customers have a choice: stick with the old firmware, install the new firmware and get a setting change so that the unit is no longer region free for DVDs but they get a clean home screen, or upgrade with continued region free DVD support and the big unofficial. I'm informed that just about all customers go for the last. And why not? That slight air of outlawry can be fun and it doesn't interfere with operation.

(Credit: Onkyo)

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