In an Australian first SmartHouse has been able to conduct a shootout between two of the latest Blu-ray players from Sony and Pioneer. The Sony model comes in at $1,399 and the Pioneer model at a $500 premium at $1,900. This is some $800 cheaper than the Panasonic Blu-ray offering at $2,700.
In an Australian first, SmartHouse has been able to conduct a shootout between two of the latest Blu-ray players from Sony and Pioneer. The Sony model comes in at $1,399 and the Pioneer model at a $500 premium at $1,900. The Panasonic Blu-ray offering which at launch retailed for $2,700 is now being sold at $1649 RRP, sitting in between the Sony and the Pioneer models.
The Sony BDP S1E and the Pioneer BDP-LX 70 Blu-ray players both deliver content at 24 frames per second which is the same speed that a motion picture is shot at. The difference is significant when compared to the early Blu-ray players from the likes of Samsung.
When unpacking the boxes for the two players the first thing one notices is that the Pioneer player comes with a HDMI cable as well as component video. The Sony Blu-ray player only comes with component video cables. Another noticeable difference is that the Sony Blu-ray player is bigger and takes up a much larger footprint which I think is unnecessary.
To test these two content delivery systems we set up a 1080p 52″ Sharp LCD TV that has two HDMI connections. We connected both Blu-ray players to different channels via the HDMI connectors using the same Kordz HDMI cables.
We then loaded the same Blu-ray DVD content onto both machines, which in this case was Casino Royal from Sony Pictures.
The first thing that is noticeable is that the Sony remote control is smarter and easier to use than the Pioneer remote control. It not only fits in the hand easily compared to the Pioneer remote, but it also has good access to key controls for the Blu-ray player. The Pioneer remote is black and bulky, and a tad old fashioned.
In the looks stake we found that the shiny smoke grey blue plastic front to the Sony Blu-ray player attracted fingermarks, which while making the device look attractive overall, was not a good look to have in a lounge room.
Operationally the first thing we noticed with both players was that they took a long time to set themselves when first turned on. This prevented the content from being loaded into the player. Then when booted and the load drawer opened, it took up an additional 60 to 90 seconds to load the content from the Blu-ray disc.
A big benefit of the Sharp LCD TV was that with both channels it recognised the format of the inbound content from both players and in both cases it identified the content as coming in over a HDMI cable and that it was 1080p content.
As both players were suppose to run at 24 fps, we were quite surprised when the content from the Sony Blu-ray player appeared far superior to the same content from the Pioneer player. However, after a quick call to Pioneer, we identified that some of the settings in the Pioneer menu were not set to the same output settings as the Sony Blu-ray player.
When we corrected these settings in the display menu, we got a smooth consistent picture that was significantly better quality than from the same movie run from a Sony PS3 with a built in Blu-ray player.
In fact the audio and the screen quality from both players was some of the best we have seen from a DVD output device and both were pretty much the same quality. Smooth, rich colours and great contrast which often gets lost in traditional DVD players
On the Pioneer model, a two way switch on the remote control allows a user to pick the output model from 1080p progressive to the now old fashioned 576i or 480i output.
Both models output standard DVD at 576i. On the audio front the Dolby Digital True-HD which is standard in both players made a distinct difference.
A big advantage that the Pioneer player has over the Sony Blu-ray player however, is that it comes with an Ethernet connection which will allow the system to be seen over a home network while also delivering a high degree of future proofing as more devices are integrated into IP based home networks.
Both players deliver the best DVD sound and content to screen quality that we have ever seen in a content player. The 24 fps makes a significant difference over the early Blu-ray players from the likes of Samsung and over the Sony PS3 with a built in Blu-ray player. By investing in a Blu-ray player at this state you are affording yourself the indulgence of the best playback systems in the world today and these two players are the best.
In addition both have excellent redundancy built in by allowing most existing DVD content to be viewed so you don’t have to worry about losing your current DVD and music library. Both systems are backward compatible, so you can enjoy all of your favourite movies and music while you build your Blu-ray library.
Sony invented Blu-ray so the Blu-ray technology found in the Pioneer player comes from Sony. However when these two beasts are side by side there is a distinct difference and it’s not picture or sound quality.
It’s aesthetics and functionality that splits the atom between these two players and it’s up to you as to which one you choose.
We did not like the remote on the Pioneer Blu-ray player. It’s big and old fashioned however the unit is neat and has a smaller footprint than the Sony which we think is important. The Sony unit has a totally unnecessary facade in the form of a plastic blue grey fascia which finger marks very easily. It is also very hard to get rid of the finger marks afterwards.
Another problem we had with the Sony unit was the size. This unit is big and bulky and Pioneer take the points in this area.
However the Sony menu, and remote control, are superb, and are typical of Sony, which has historically had a tradition of having the most well thought out menus, and well laid out remote controls.
Another big advantage that the Pioneer Blu-ray player has over the Sony unit is that it has an Ethernet port which allows content to be played from a PC via the Blu-ray player to a TV.
Conclusion: Over Page:
So in the end it comes down to money and value.
If you have the money and are looking for the best Blu-ray player in the world today that is compact and has Ethernet connectivity go for the $1900 Pioneer BDP-LX 70. It won’t let you down.
If saving money is important and looks and size is not an issue the Sony BDP S1E is the obvious choice at $1,399.
Personally, as an indulgent bastard when it comes to great entertainment and the fact that the Pioneer has got Ethernet capability and has the looks, I am tending to lean in the direction of the Pioneer model over the Sony model.