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Sony BDP-S570 review: Sony BDP-S570

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The Good Very good Blu-ray image quality; 3D Blu-ray compatible; Netflix, Amazon VOD, Pandora, YouTube, and Slacker media streaming; built-in Wi-Fi; fastest operational speed we've tested; SACD playback; 1GB onboard storage.

The Bad Inconsistent streaming-video performance using Wi-Fi; some very minor image quality nitpicks.

The Bottom Line The Sony BDP-S570 has all the features of other midrange Blu-ray players, plus future 3D support and best-in-class operational speed, but its streaming-video performance over Wi-Fi is spotty.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

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 BDP-S570 has small nubs as buttons
The BDP-S570's small nubs feel like a hybrid between touch-sensitive buttons and actual buttons.

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's iPhone app
While we like the idea of controlling the BDP-S570 with an iPhone, we didn't find the implementation very useful.

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.

User interface
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.

The video icon in the BDP-S570's menu
The video icon includes both Blu-ray playback and streaming media services.

Other streaming media services in the BDP-S570's menu
While the most important streaming media services are listed at the top, there are a lot of nonessential services cluttering up 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
Wi-Fi 802.11n Blu-ray profile 2.0
The Sony BDP-S570 is one of the only Blu-ray players at this price level that is 3D compatible. Other manufacturers are charging around $400 for their 3D Blu-ray players, so the BDP-S570 is a bargain in this regard, although Samsung's recently released cheaper 3D models are encroaching on this territory.

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.

Streaming-media features
Netflix Yes YouTube Yes
Amazon VOD Yes Pandora Yes
Vudu No Slacker Yes
CinemaNow No Picasa/Flickr Upgradable
DLNA compliant Yes Weather No
We've been harsh on Sony in the past for the lack of streaming media options on its Blu-ray players, but the company finally seems to have caught up, started with last year's BDP-N460 which had Netflix, Amazon VOD, YouTube, and Slacker. The BDP-S570 builds on the success of the N460 by adding both Pandora and DLNA with the latest firmware update. Though it may not have as many services as Samsung's expandable Apps platform, it should serve all but the most media-hungry buyers.

Audio decoding capabilities
Dolby TrueHD Yes DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
Dolby Digital Plus Yes DTS-HD HR Yes
Bitstream output Yes SACD/DVD-Audio SACD
Like nearly every Blu-ray player available now, the BDP-S570 offers onboard decoding for both high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. It also offers support for the niche high-resolution audio format SACD, which is a step up over most competing players at this price level and a nice perk if you still have some of those discs in your collection. However, if you've got a large library of SACD and DVD-Audio discs, Oppo's Blu-ray players are still your best bet.

AV outputs
HDMI version HDMI 1.4 Stereo analog Yes
Component video Yes Multichannel analog No
Composite video Yes Optical/coaxial Both
The BDP-S570's AV output selection is standard. Sony has told us that the HDMI output meets HDMI 1.4 specification and can fully handle the 3D Blu-ray spec, but that it doesn't support some of the other features of HDMI 1.4, such as the audio return channel or Ethernet over HDMI.

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