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Improving on the Trend
Blu-ray discs were created to stand out from DVD by having an Internet connection that could let them access new content. This of course required that the Blu-ray player had an Ethernet connector, and many of the first generation players did not. But with third and even fourth generation Blu-ray players now out, it's expected that you will be able to connect the Blu-ray player to your broadband network.But...
The "but" is that many don't bother connecting the Blu-ray player because of all the wiring and work necessary to hook it up. Not to mention the pain it would be if you wanted to take the Blu-ray player from one room to another. This is a shame because the actual connection that must be done is no longer complicated, involving only a few presses of a button on the remote. Still, the "physical" work has been daunting or just too much trouble. The solution? Make the Internet connection on the Blu-ray player wireless so that it can connect to a wireless network like it was a computer or a laptop or an iPhone, etc.
Of course for this to happen, the Blu-ray player has to have the ability to connect wirelessly built into its technology. And it would be better if you didn't have to use some external antenna attached to it, as that adds another layer of possible problems.
Which is why Sony's BDP-S560 is so outstanding - it has the wireless connection built-in.
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Features Like You Want 'Em
The BDP-S560 Blu-ray player is moderately priced compared to just a year ago, yet Sony hasn't skimmed off any needed features. There's high-definition 1080p resolution and the ability to play movies at their natural rate of 24 frames a second for the best visual effect. All of the multichannel audio formats are available, and they and the video go out through the single HDMI connector to the HDTV or front projector in the easiest fashion available.
The player's firmware includes the latest Blu-ray developments, such as BonusView for watching additional content as two video streams (rather than the single video stream a DVD can do). And of course you can access special features and additional content while the movie is playing.
But it's BD-Live, or the Internet connection to be more general, that tops the list of what makes a Blu-ray disc more involved than a single session of watching. BD-Live means that content can be accessed long after the disc has been pressed. Studios have the opportunity to keep interest going for their franchise while the viewers get a reason to pull the disc off the shelf again and again.
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Wireless Tops the Features
But it's the wireless aspect for Internet connection that makes this Blu-ray player unique (if only for now). Many don't own a second Blu-ray player but take it from one location to the next - the living room to the bedroom for example - and only having to pull out the AC cord and the HDMI cable makes this easy. Not so if there's a Ethernet cable to pull out and then reinstall in another room. The wireless connection makes this so much easier, not to mention viable for using BD-Live.
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Does Wireless Work?
Setting up the wireless connection of the Sony player is easy - you go to a menu and have it find the wireless network you're using. Then enter in the security password protecting the network from others and let the player make the connection. Once done, that's it. The speed of the connection is of course determined by your network, but the BDP-S560 uses the fastest "N" standard so there won't be any slowdowns at its end (providing the network uses "N" of course). This accounts for more than enough speed for streaming video, and of course downloads are no issue. Plus "N" provides for a greater distance so in most cases you will be hard pressed to find the Sony player out of range of the network (assuming your home isn't like Bill Gates's, that is).
In use, the Sony Blu-ray player is indistinguishable from having it wired into the network. This is with the network being "N" and my apartment not exceeding 100 feet from where the wireless router sits and the bedroom where the Blu-ray player is situated. That includes fairly thick walls, too, so it's quite impressive. Of course I have the player and all my network equipment on uninterruptible power supplies, so no power glitches can interfere with it in use, but such a precaution might not be necessary depending upon where you live and the power grid coming into your home.
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Not the Typical Review
It's fair to say that this wasn't the typical review where you rate the picture and sound and whether the player's chassis is solid or feeling like it is made out of cereal box cardboard. In my defense, I expected the Sony player to perform up to snuff, and I wasn't disappointed. My real concern was whether the wireless connection could be easily made and, once made, would stay firm under the normal conditions of day to day use. Which it did. I have no complaints about using the Sony BDP-S560 as a part of my home network and appreciate the wireless as an added "gift." If you're looking for a Blu-ray player that can free you from the snaking cables of a wired Internet connection, then this player might be just what you are looking for.