By Daniel McAdam.
I purchased a Sony BDP-S6500 DVD player in November 2016 as part of my budget home theater system. The cost was $100. Was it worth it?
As I usually do when preparing to make a purchase, I first identified what features I needed and then did some comparison shopping. Desired features grouped themselves into four categories:
The Sony BDP-S6500 meets all of the above criteria, but that's not the whole story, because it also offers a lot more. Let's analyze the player's specifications using the four categories listed above.
The player has 4K upscaling; basically, this means that an advanced video processor in the player converts standard video into a signal closer to 4K resolution (3840 x 2160). If you have a 3D-capable HD TV you can also watch 3D Blu-ray Disc™ movies in Full HD quality. The manufacturer's specs also state that the disc player can upscale 2D video to simulated 3D. There's also something Sony calls TRILUMINOS®; according to Sony, "color has a wider visible color spectrum to reveal more true-to-life tones and texture." My experience is of course subjective, but the picture quality is excellent.
Sound reproduction from Blu-ray discs is also excellent. The player offers DTS-HD Master Audio, which means you hear the original, uncompressed soundtracks on your Blu-ray Discs and streamed movies. Nice! DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio also offers detailed reproduction for musical performances. There's also something called Digital Music Enhancer, which is a combination of three Sony audio technologies; DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), Dynamic Range Recovery, and Advanced Auto Volume. Dialogue is heard clearly, and the sound is reasonably immersive.
What about just listening to music? My old system was quite limited, so I never really spent much time listening to music in the living room, which is where my television sits, and I rarely bothered to play a music CD on my old DVD player. That's changed with the addition of the BDP-S6500. This player not only plays regular music CDs, it also plays SACD (or SA-CD) discs, which is very unusual for a disc player in this price range.
If you're a budding (or budget-restricted) audiophile, there's more than just SACD capability to excite you. The BDP-S6500 has a USB port in the front that, in addition to playing the usual MP3 files, also plays ALAC and FLAC files. (If you're not sure why this is important, visit our FLAC, ALAC, and Other Digital Recorded Music Formats page.) I've already played FLAC files from a USB thumb drive on this player, and am now thinking of buying and plugging in an external hard drive filled with my (reasonably massive) library of albums in FLAC format.
Connecting the Blu-ray player to my Sony STR-DH550 5.2 Channel AV Receiver was simple and straightforward with an HDMI cable. The player also has built-in Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), so you can stream subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. My television already does this, but it's nice to have the Wi-Fi.
As stated, my cost for this player was $100. I consider it a bargain at that price.
I'm happy to recommend this player. I'd considered less expensive players in the $70 range, but to me it made sense to pay a little bit more for a much more full-featured product.
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