Review: SONY BDP-S560 Blu-Ray Player!

For the past two years I have bathed in the glorious pleasure of watching movies in 1080p High-Definition on my 42" Toshiba t.v, either via my Sky Plus HD or through Blu-ray transfers on my Playstation 3. Yes, American PS3. The reason being that I'm such a big fan of Criterion's efforts to showcase older, rarer classics in this format, and even though they are U.S. only and cost me an arm and a leg to ship over here to the U.K. - each time I spend ten minutes with one of those babies, I let out a sigh of relief. That is how movies should be released. They do the best job with the transfers, they have the best commentaries and the best DVD artwork, etc. Now for 24 months or so, I've been quite content with my PS3. Every now and again though I would become frustrated (mostly by Disney, though Toy Story 1 and 2 on Blu-ray was Region-Free) by studio's releasing region locked Blu-rays, which stopped me from watching some U.K. only Blu-rays, and I've been looking to adopt to a new stand-alone, Blu-ray system for months. Then, earlier this month I got offered the chance to review the Sony BDP-S560 player and I jumped at the opportunity. Thankfully, the system answers all my prayers for what I was looking for... This is a mighty impressive piece of kit that includes wi-fi connectivity (thank God, considering the amount of wires I have in this place) allowing you to enjoy the best of BD-Live, or even use it as a network hub to view photographs stored on your PC, or stream music. As cool as that this, of course the bread and butter of the machine is the performance, and this Sony player boasts the best picture on the market for it's £180-ish price range, that trumps the more expensive Playstation 3 (if you are simply looking for a blu ray player) and is now my hardware of choice when it comes to watching movies in HD. To test the machine, Sony sent me Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (which I had already seen and kinda enjoyed, so I was happy) and the Director's Cut of Terminator Salvation, which I already own and previously reviewed in length. So instead of the latter, I opted to test it with Green Zone Blu-ray which I had just been sent to review.... Installation No problems, even a monkey could do it! Hooking it up to my Toshiba was straightforward, as was the simple to use menu system which takes you through the various processes of what's required to get it configured for 1080. Following the on screen menu's, I changed the output to play through my sound system speakers and I optimised the visual settings to just how I like it. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes and Blu-ray joy awaited. Visual Quality Stunning! There is no other word quite for it. The crisp, almost analytical approach to the picture quality on Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was better than I had previously seen on any movie, animated or not, on my PS3. That burger above, just looks good enough to eat don't it? Of course animation will always look superior to anything else on home video, simply because of how flawlessly the animation is originally rendered on the computer and nothing is lost on it's transfer to disc, but particularly Sony seem to have done a magnificent job on making this Blu-ray stand out. According to the manual, they put it down to the 'Deep Colour Technology'; which €˜gives you smoother images and more colour variation', and I couldn't agree more. The brighter colours feel bright and vibrant, the deep blacks of Green Zone were crisp and sharp. Sound Quality Unsurprisingly given my shift from PS3 to Sony Blu-Ray player, the sound quality is noticeably different, even more so than the picture quality. The hiss I used to hear from movies playing on my PS3 (Not to mention the loudness of the machine itself) has completely now disappeared and watching Green Zone was like a frenetic war zone experience. Noises come from the left, then the right hand speakers - my neighbours probably thought there was a war going on. Where Green Zone probably falls down a little on it's Blu-ray picture quality (simply by the handheld jerkiness of Greengrass' direction), the probably is a special experience simply for it's audio output. Performance I've lived with the machine for two weeks, watched as many Blu-rays as I can on it (and my old DVDs keep getting a run out) and the machine is perfect. No flaws. easyreview title="Sony BDP-S560 Review" cat1title="Installation" cat1detail="Easy to install, easy to setup instructions. A monkey could do it." cat1rating="4.5" cat2title="Visuals" cat2detail="Crisp, sharp, vibrant. Movies have never looked this good, for the price." cat2rating="2.5" cat3title="Audio" cat3detail="Better than the sound on my PS3, and when watching a loud movie like Green Zone, you will be transported into the action!." cat3rating="4.5" Conclusion If you have been watching movies on your Playstation 3, then you simply have to adopt to a stand-alone player. It's more reliable, it makes better use of the technology and is pretty cool. Then there's the stuff I probably won't ever use it for, but I'm sure others will such as the streaming photographs option and BD-Live. All in all, this is an impressive piece of kit and is now my player of choice for HD. The best quality picture (it is a Sony brand after all), high quality audio, and so easy even the lamest of technical geeks (me) can use it fine. I'm going to enjoy many Blu-rays on this system in the future.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.