Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player Page 2
The BDP-N460 offers custom configuration options under the Setup tab in the XMB. These let you set the aspect ratio for 4:3 DVDs (either fixed or stretched), force 24p output on Blu-ray Discs, and configure the audio output to bitstream (Direct) or PCM (Mix). There’s also a Network Update option that queries Sony’s Website for firmware updates. In my case, I found one update, and it took less than five minutes to complete.
I’m not a big fan of stock remotes, and the included remote reinforced my opinion. First, it isn’t backlit, so it’s nearly impossible to use in a dark room. Second, the largest button on the remote is Home, which exits the movie and brings you back to the XMB. I’ve experienced this issue with other Sony Blu-ray remotes, and I wish they would add a confirmation screen (do you really want to exit the movie?). Last but not least, it doesn’t have an Eject button. I’ve grown into the habit of ejecting a movie from my couch so it’s ready for me when I arrive at the player (it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks). This took some getting used to.
The BDP-N460 has the widest gamut of streaming services I’ve seen outside of a computer. Shortly after I received the player, it was upgraded to support Netflix. However, unlike the pleasant experience with the PS3, its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. In lieu of the large cover art that the PS3 displays, the player includes up to 18 movies per page with minuscule thumbnails that you can barely see. If your queue is large, this may be a welcome sight. However, if your display is small, good luck reading what’s in there. Furthermore, movies are sluggish to load. The player first tests the network speed for five seconds, then it takes up to 30 seconds more to start streaming the selection. I watched a few HD episodes of 30 Rock and noticed that the video stream was inferior to the PS3 and my TiVo Series3 DVR, with less detail and more blocking.
At first I chalked this up to network traffic, but when I directly compared the three devices, the picture quality from the BDP-N460’s Netflix stream simply didn’t look as good. Furthermore, the Fast-Forward/Rewind buttons don’t work. In order to move through a title, you have to press the direction buttons (right for forward, left for reverse), which makes it difficult to find a particular scene. The BDP-N460’s streaming runs through Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video network, while the PS3 connects to the PlayStation Network. Perhaps the answer is there. At press time, Sony indicated that it would merge the content of these two networks. Maybe this will effect a change here.
YouTube content is hit or miss in entertainment value, and in this case, the video quality isn’t that great either. Frankly, this isn’t the player’s fault since most of the content isn’t meant to be eye candy. But even some of the HD feeds from YouTube look like upconverted standard definition. Other streaming services include NPR, Wired, blip.tv, Crackle, and even a Michael Jackson–specific site that features some of his music videos and a trailer for This Is It. All of the content is highly compressed, with plenty of macroblocking and jaggies. However, I enjoyed watching Brian’s Song on Crackle even with an extremely poor video stream.