November 28, 2011
- Internet-connected applications
- Handy smartphone remote-control app
- Very good 3D/2D image quality
- On-screen keyboard is bad
- Web browser lacks Flash
- Hulu Plus and Netflix require a Sony account
The Sony BDP-S780 is an Internet-connected Blu-ray player that comes with a large selection of applications, streaming content and a Web browser. It also supported 3D HDTVs, so almost no one is left out of the action. It is on the expensive side and does have some downsides that make us question Sony's decision making.
The Sony BDP-S780 measures 17 x 7.8 x 1.8-inches (wdh) and has the standard black body that will blend into any home theater setting. When you setup the player for the first time, a setup wizard will appear and guide you through some steps, but it leaves out one crucial step: setting up the Internet connection. At this point, you'll need to access this thought the player's settings menu and enter in your Wi-Fi network's SSID and encryption key, which is a hassle to enter into the player because of the poor on-screen keyboard design. To alleviate this, however, there is a Sony Android/iOS remote-control application, which allows you to control your player from your smart phone connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
The included remote control was decent, but felt cheap in our hands. It is probably best to use a universal remote with this player in addition to your HDTV.
Sony also made the remote-control application available for text entry throughout all of the Internet-connected applications, so when searching Hulu Plus or Netflix, you can use your smartphone's QWERTY keyboard instead of the clumsy on-screen keyboard.
Speaking of applications, the Sony BDP-S780 has several, including Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Skype, Amazon, Vudu and many others. There are also novel applications, like Dr. Oz's Tips For Healthy Living, Facebook and a Web browser. The Web browser doesn't support Adobe Flash, so that limits its use right from the start. Other than that, it is rather easy to use and navigate.
One important note regarding Hulu Plus and Netflix is the requirement to have a Sony MyEssentials account first, so you'll need to remember an additional login name and password in additional to your Hulu Plus/Netflix account, which is just an annoying quirk at best.
Other features include a USB port to allow you to view music, photos and videos right from the drive on the TV. It also supports streaming this content from a DLNA supported computer (computers with Windows Media Player minimally) on your home network.
When we inserted a Blu-ray DVD, we found the Sony BDP-S780 to be quite speedy, with only a delay of about 15-20 seconds before the DVD was displaying the usual FBI copyright warning. We found 2D image quality to be rated as very good in subjective image testing and 3D images to also be rated as very good.
We did test the ability to convert 2D images to 3D, but found it to not have any noticeable effect to be honest.
In the end, the Sony BDP-S780 offers a good feature set and the ability to play 3D Blu-ray DVDs with very good quality. Aside from some of Sony's quirks that they impressed on the device, like the need for a separate MyEssential account and the poor on-screen keyboard, the player does its job well. Aside from the high price, everything else makes it worth a look if you're in the market to buy a Blu-ray DVD player with 3D support.