Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand were conspicuously absent on the Sony Blu ray players. The BDP-S360 and BDP-S560 both lacked any type of streaming services for some reason. Even Sony’s PS3 lacked the streaming services until Sony recently added the Netflix support via firmware update. This was odd omission since Sony’s rivals all included comprehensive streaming services on all of their Blu ray player models. There was some speculation about Sony adding these streaming services via firmware update on their current Blu ray players. However, Sony decided to launch entirely new model with included streaming services. Instead of including few major streaming services, Sony has gone all out and included over 25 streaming content providers. With the release of BDP-N460, Sony finally catches up with LG, Samsung, and Panasonic in terms of streaming services.
Perhaps Sony felt the majority of the home theater buyers didn’t need or want streaming services on their Blu ray players. While there are segment that do not care for streaming contents, I would have to think that majority of the consumers would still want some type of streaming option on their Blu ray players. The BDP-N460 fills that segment nicely. The overall feature is comparable to the BDP-S360 model with added streaming services. The BDP-N460 is Profile 2.0 player with full support for BD-LIVE content. The BDP-N460 features full audio decoding options. It can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio as well as Dolby Digital and DTS audio. A drawback on audio side is the analog output of 7.1 channel audio. You will need a receiver if you want 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog output. For storage, you will need a USB storage unit. Also, BDP-N460 lacks WiFi found on the BDP-S560 model. As with other Blu ray players from Sony, BDP-N460 comes with BRAVIA Sync technology. This basically eliminates you from having to use multiple remote controls on Sony products. If you don’t own a nice programmable remote control, this should be a nice feature.
The BDP-N460 retains the flip down tray design like the BDP-S360 model. The tray is located in the middle of the player beneath the tray. The see through LCD screen is located on the right side along with play and stop buttons. Unlike the BDP-S360, the USB port is located outside of the flip down tray on the BDP-N460. This is much better design compared to BDP-S360 model. The back of the player houses the HDMI, Component video, composite video, and Ethernet port. Also, there is optical and coaxial digital audio port as well as analog audio output port.
The included remote is the one provided on the BDP-S560 model. The included remote control is similar to the older player’s layout. It is more compact and streamlined than the previous offerings. The numeric pad is located at the top of the remote followed by the function buttons in four different colors. The menu and directional buttons are located in the middle with playback function buttons at the bottom. However, the remote does not contain the channel buttons whereas the older version did have them at the bottom. Nevertheless, it is very functional and easy to use remote control. The lack of channel button might not be a deal breaker if you already own a quality universal remote control.
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Performance, Video, Audio
The Blu ray playback and the DVD upscaling are very good on the BDP-N460 model. The quality is carried over from the BDP-S360 and BDP-S560 model. For the DVD upscaling, the BDP-N460 uses the same Precision Cinema HD Upscale circuitry found on the other models. While not as good as the Oppo upconversion, it does fairly good job of upconverting DVD movies. As for the Blu ray playback, it is in line with the playback quality from other Sony Blu ray players. The playback itself is very good without any discernable defects. The playback of two movies, The Dark Knight and Marley and Me, showed no problems. The action sequences in The Dark Knight had no glaring or noticeable defects. The first generation players showed some jaggies and moiré but the current generation models including BDP-N460 showed none of the jaggies or moiré. Pausing during the movie also produced no defects. Overall, the video processing quality is comparable to BDP-S360 and BDP-S560 model. On the other hand, the loading time and overall processing time is not on the par with other manufacturers. It is very similar to BDP-S360 and BDP-S560. While not horrendously slow, it is still slower than other players in its class.
As with video quality, the audio processing quality is on par with other Sony Blu ray players. There are very limited differences between Blu ray players when it comes to audio processing quality. Most consumers will not notice any difference even when you step up to the high end models offered by premium audio and video manufacturers like Pioneer or Marantz. The real difference comes from the audio decoding options. The BDP-N460 will handle all of the audio decoding needs including the high definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The only drawback of BDP-N460 is the lack of analog 7.1 channel audio output. Otherwise, the player handles all the audio decoding functions perfectly.
Sony BDP-N460 comes little late to the streaming service market. LG, Samsung, and Panasonic all launched their latest Blu ray players with streaming services like Netflix and Youtube. While little late to the market, the BDP-N460 boasts the most comprehensive streaming service on Blu ray player. Some of the streaming services include Netflix, YouTube, Blip.tv, Crackle, slacker, Wired, and Fear.net. If you are in market for a Blu ray player with great streaming service contents, clearly the BDP-N460 is the best choice. There is one caveat to the Netflix streaming. If you purchased it thinking Netflix was ready to go out of the box, you would have been disappointed. Sony just added the Netflix streaming via firmware updates. So, update your firmware as soon as you unbox the Blu ray player.
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