- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 17 September 2012
The Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player In Use
I did throw the BDP-S790 on our HDMI Test Bench before using it to make sure I picked the optimal colorspace for it, and went with YCbCr 4:4:4 and utilized Direct mode for the image. More details on all the picture modes, and the color space performance, can be found in the Bench Test section.
Blu-ray titles looked as good as expected, with no issues or artifacts encountered at all. Load times were nice and fast, likely helped by the faster processor in the BDP-S790, making those days of 2-3 minute load times on some titles a distant memory. One unfortunate title that arrived during testing was the Criterion Collection release of Being John Malkovich. A fantastic film is presented here with a transfer that leaves a lot to be desired. The images is somewhat soft, full of noise, not perfectly steady, and overall a general disappointment. It gave me a chance to try out the image adjustments available on the BDP-S790 for lower quality content and see what they could do.
Using the different noise reduction options there was a vast improvement in image noise in the opening scene compared to the Direct mode. There was a bit of fine detail being lost as well, though not as much as I expected. The transfer was still poor quality for a Blu-ray disc, but the poor quality was less distracting than with the constant noise from the bad transfer. Even using the most demanding test patterns I could put up, the noise reduction options did a fantastic job of distinguishing between actual compression noise and real content. When used on content with lots of noise you could see a very slight loss in detail, but nothing major, and it was hard to tell any difference. As a video purist I would likely leave them off by default, but I can see where many people might leave them on all the time as the negative behavior exhibited by them is minimal. Here you can see examples of a test pattern using Direct mode, and then Custom mode with super resolution and other enhancements enabled with many artifacts now being visible.
DVD performance was also very nice on the BDP-S790. The image processing that did a good job with poor Blu-ray transfers also did a good job of helping to clean up DVDs when scaled up to 1080p resolution. Simple test patterns like motion wedges looked sharp and detailed and were still free of extra edge enhancement or other common artifacts. The only recent device that had done as well with the DVD scaling was the Lumagen Radiance, and that's a completely different type of product. Animated kids films looked wonderful scaled up with hand drawn lines and colors coming across well without halos or other artifacts. I wouldn't mistake it for a Blu-ray, but I also wouldn't be disappointed to have to watch them. For those with a large DVD library, the better scaling is certainly a feature to look for.
Streaming from Netflix offered one nice feature enhancement with Kids Mode being available. Having not had a player with the Netflix kids interface before, being able to easily browse every Curious George and Busytown episode was very useful with my son. The one thing I wish Sony did allow with Netflix was to use the image options, but you can't bring up the menu to select your custom modes so I assume it uses Direct or Auto. I noticed aliasing when streaming animation a couple times, so having access to those settings would be nice. Beyond the addition of Netflix Kids, I didn't notice a difference with streaming content compared to the BDP-S590, which means it did a very nice job as well.
I really don't have much to complain about with the BDP-S790 when I used it. Being able to use the advanced video processing on Netflix would have been nice, and perhaps I'd make a couple changes to the exterior so it was easier to see the buttons but these are pretty minor. Overall the BDP-S790 player was fantastic in use.