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- Review Date: 08/07/2012
- Bottom line: The Sony BDP-S590 is a good Blu-ray player, but a few minor quirks hold it back.
- Pros: Supports 3D. Built-in Wi-Fi. Quick performance.
- Cons: Slight video processing issues. Controls on player feel awkward.
In the current Blu-ray player market, the winner is decided by inches, not miles. We've seen a wave of affordable (sub-$150) players full of useful features with great performance, and it's the small details that separate the good Blu-ray players from the great ones. The Sony BDP-S590 is a good Blu-ray player, with built-in Wi-Fi, 3D support, and fast performance. It has a few minor video processing issues, and its on-player controls feel flimsy, keeping it from the top-tier. At $129.99 (direct), however, it's a solid choice.
The S590 is a 1.6 by 16.9 by 7.8-inch (HWD), 3.3-pound black deck that's completely flat on the top, but tapers from the sides to the bottom, resulting in a curved profile that sits securely on any surface. A blue LED indicator on the front shows power and playback status, and a USB port next to it (hidden behind a black rubber door that sits flush against the player) lets you plug in flash drives. The top of the player features a thin silver line that hides the player's controls, with the Power button on the left and Eject, Play, and Stop buttons on the right. Unfortunately, the buttons are so thin and have to be pressed so deeply that they're very difficult to use.
The remote is a simple, 6-inch controller with small, soft rubber buttons. While the buttons aren't very big, they feel distinct enough and the navigation pad sits comfortably enough under the thumb that it's fairly easy to perform most functions blindly. Dedicated Netflix and Sony Entertainment Network buttons access the online features, and a Home button returns the screen to the main menu. The buttons are not backlit.
You can access streaming services through the S590's built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. The player can load Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, Vudu, and Slacker, among others, and Sony's own Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited stores are integrated directly into the player. You'll probably find the service you want on the S590, but it doesn't support as many apps (which, admittedly, are generally less useful than the video services) as the Editors' Choice LG BP620, and it doesn't have a Web browser like the Panasonic DMP-BDT220.
We tested the S590's speed by loading two Blu-ray discs, The Sound of Music and The Sitter, multiple times. The former loaded in an average of 33.8 seconds and the latter loaded in an average of 26.1 seconds from inserting the disc to showing the first picture, for a combined average of 30 seconds seconds to load the typical Blu-ray disc. It's decently fast, but not nearly as quick as the Panasonic DMP-BDT220, which loaded Blu-ray discs in an average of 23.6 seconds or the Editors' Choice LG BP620's average of 27 seconds.
We test Blu-ray player video processing with the HQV benchmark Blu-ray disc. The S590 passed all tests, but showed marked tearing with lateral motion in 24fps film footage. The video wasn't jerky and stuttering, as typically seen with this problem, but instead shows minute shredding that makes objects moving horizontally look slightly garbled along the edges.
The S590 was unimpressive in DVD upconverting. I watched The Sitter on DVD and the video, while watchable, wasn't particularly sharp even by upconverted DVD standards. Upconverting artifacts—blemishes that appear when the player converts video to a higher resolution—were apparent in the picture, and the slight shredding of horizontal motion showed up in fast scenes. These are flaws you probably won't notice unless you pay careful attention to the screen, but the video processing doesn't quite meet the levels of the BDT220 or BP620.
If you want a full-featured, 3D-capable Blu-ray player, the Sony BDP-S590 is a solid, inexpensive one. However, it's only one among many solid, inexpensive Blu-ray players, a number of which have slightly better performance or build quality. Don't be afraid to pick up this Blu-ray player if you see it on sale or prefer a Sony player, but keep your eyes out for the LG BP620 and Panasonic DMP-BDT220 for alternatives that are just as affordable but marginally superior in performance and features.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.