Blu-ray Players

Sony BDP-CX7000ES Blu-ray Player (Mega Changer)



I approached the installation of this player a little differently. Since convenience is the design goal, I decided to use it my living room system rather than in my theater. Anchored by a Pioneer PRO-111FD plasma TV, the rack includes a Denon 3806 receiver, an OPPO BDP-83 and a Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVR. It’s all controlled with a Logitech Harmony 900 via RF. Since wife-friendliness was part of the test, I programmed the player’s functions into the Harmony and effectively replaced my OPPO temporarily. Once I loaded the discs for her, she needed no other instruction other than how to select titles using the on-screen menu.

After connecting an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable and plugging in a thumbdrive, I was ready to fire it up. The quick setup ran me through choices for language, connection type, resolution, aspect ratio, HDMI control and BD-Live. After this, I visited the main menu also known as XMB. By now you know this stands for Xross Media Bar and is the standard on all Sony electronics since the first PS3. I’m not sure why Sony wants to deny existence of the letter “C” but there it is. The XMB has four major sections, Setup, Photos, Music and Video; represented with large icons with text labels. Though XMB is different than any other product I’ve encountered, it becomes very intuitive once you’re accustomed and navigation is quite fast. I found I could easily zero in on a choice in a matter of seconds.

After the Quick Setup, I visited the Setup menu to dial in the rest of my choices. First I hit Network Update. A new firmware version was found so I let it install before proceeding. The process took about 20 minutes. Next is Video Settings. Here you can change your aspect ratio and screen format (stretch 4:3 content or not); set deinterlacing to Auto or Video; specify the video connection (HDMI, component or composite/S-video); set the output resolution; force 24p output; choose the color space (RGB video or PC, YCbCr 4:2:2/4:4:4 or Auto); turn on Deep Color, Super Bit Mapping, and x.v.Color; choose the Pause Mode; and increase signal strength at the component output. I set the color space to YCbCr 4:4:4, and turned on Super Bit Mapping and 24p output.

Audio setup was very simple. Since my Denon receiver only accepts lossless codecs via LPCM, I left the HDMI Audio set to Auto. This worked in every instance. If I played a Dolby Digital disc, it bitstreamed; if I played a lossless codec like DTS-HD Master Audio, it output LPCM. This is a major step forward in Blu-ray player ergonomics. I find I still have to explain lossless codecs to many people who are otherwise knowledgeable about AV. Good job Sony! Other options in the Audio Setup menu are Audio Output Priority (HDMI, coax/optical, multi-channel analog, stereo analog); Speaker Settings (bass management); downmix options for Dolby Digital and DTS, secondary audio mixing, PCM sampling rate (48kHz/16-bit or 96kHz/24-bit), and dynamic range control.

The BD/DVD Viewing Settings let you control language, subtitles, parental controls, whether or not to allow an internet connection and playback memory. This feature allows you to store picture settings for up to 50 discs. Photo Settings are limited to selecting the speed of the slideshow when viewing pictures. You can view only JPEG format files from any type of data disc. The USB port is only for BD-Live storage and will not allow access to picture files.

System Settings covers the player’s ergonomics options. You can activate HDMI and RS-232 control, adjust the brightness of the front panel display or change the OSD language. Turning on the Quick Start mode will shorten the player’s startup time at the expense of slightly higher power consumption in standby. There is also an Auto Power Off function that shuts down the player after 30 minutes of inactivity. Auto Display pops up information whenever you change chapters, picture modes, audio signals and other functions. A Screen Saver can be activated to come on after 15 minutes if you wish. Three command sets are available to avoid conflicts with other Sony gear and are chosen here. Also available is a firmware update notification. Obviously you’ll need to connect the player to the internet to use this feature. A Child Lock setting can be made to protect the front opening from curious fingers. Lastly you can toggle on and off access to the Gracenote database and display the firmware version and MAC address.

Network Settings gives you the choice between DHCP or a static IP address. DHCP worked fine for me and will work on most internet connections. If you use static IP, you’ll have to enter the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway and DNS server information manually.

To get started, I loaded up about 20 discs, both Blu-ray and DVD. I left slot one, the rental slot, vacant. After inserting everything in the carousel and closing the door, I selected the video playback icon, pressed Options and chose Load All Discs. The CX7000 loaded each disc one by one accessing the Gracenote database to retrieve cover art, title, actor and genre information. The process took about 90 seconds per disc. Not every disc was found and these titles were tagged as unknown. By selecting these and pressing Options, I could manually enter the information using a texting-style interface with the remote’s numeric keypad. While a Bluetooth or USB keyboard would have been nice, I didn’t have too much trouble keying in the unknown discs. Once finished, I could sort the discs alphabetically, by slot number, or by release year. By pressing Group, I could display titles by their genre, actors, or directors. Since I had a relatively small number of discs loaded, alphabetical by title was the easiest choice for me. Pressing the up and down keys let me flip through the available discs very quickly. Making a selection loads the disc in a few seconds and you’re off and watching!