Typical: you wait an age for a high-end Blu-ray player to come along, and then two break cover in the space of a month or so. Hot on the heels of Denon’s DVD-3800BD comes this, Sony’s most expensive Blu-ray player yet.
Given our current economic nightmare, you’d be forgiven for wondering what’s going on, especially when you can get a Sony BDP-S350 sporting the same brand name and doing much the same job for under £200.
But take a closer look at the BDP-S5000ES and it starts to seem worth the money.
First, the Sony is assembled with an almost fanatical attention to detail. For example, it uses an ultra-stiff frame-and-beam chassis made from carefully selected and subtly different thicknesses of metal to reduce interference from internal and external vibration.
Then, in a feature typical of Sony’s ‘ES’ series products, every button operates with gorgeous, tactile precision, while the disc-tray’s operation is smoothness personified.
And then there’s the player’s spec. The BDP-S5000ES packs everything Sony can think of to optimize its picture. There’s Super Bit Mapping Technology, so you can match the image to the bit depth of your flat panel TV (8, 10 or 12-bits), which helps reduce digital blocking and ensure optimum colour.
Then there’s Precision Cinema HD and Vertical Edge Correction, which claim to help smooth out and, at the same time, sharpen the image, while the HD Reality Enhancer allows for fine-tuning of the picture on-the-fly, with access to picture settings such as colour, contrast and noise reduction.
Every audio socket you need is included, too, including both eight-channel and stereo analogue outs for easy connection to older systems or to your hi-fi.
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Most importantly, picture and sound quality are simply extraordinary. In fact, this Sony’s picture quality is possibly even better than its DVD-3800BD rival.
It’s incredibly sharp and accurate, with amazing clarity and colour vitality backed by a pristine, noise-free presentation. DVD upscaling is formidably effective, while good Blu-ray discs look superb, and the best 1080p transfers, like The Dark Knight or Wall-E, are simply astonishing.
Sound is equally formidable, with awesome power on big action-movie dynamics, coupled with a surprisingly musical touch with both CDs and music Blu-rays.
In short, if you want the gold standard of Blu-ray players and are prepared to pay for it, this is where your cheque should be headed.
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Too good to use with a 32in TV, but in the right system this Sony is simply extraordinary