Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player

Price: $250 At A Glance: Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio • Streaming options include Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand

Sony sells seven stand-alone Blu-ray players, ranging from its entry level BDP-S360 ($150, HT, July 2009) up to its Elevated Standard BDP-CX7000ES MegaChanger ($1,900, HT, March 2010). But one of the biggest complaints against Sony’s BD players has been the lack of networking features. Well, Sony has addressed that complaint with the BDP-N460. It includes a plethora of streaming options from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Slacker, and a host of other content providers—some more useful than others. Network connectivity is a great add-on feature, but how does the player perform as a disc player? Let’s find out…

Just the Facts
In the waterfall of Sony Blu-ray players, the BDP-N460 is a step up from Sony’s entry-level players. Aesthetically, it looks nearly identical to the BDP-S360, with a simple glossy black plastic facing that drops down to expose the disc tray. The only other buttons on the front are Play, Stop, Eject, and Power.

The back panel includes the requisite HDMI 1.3a output with support for 48-bit Deep Color and x.v. Color (not currently supported by either DVD or Blu-ray), as well as component video and composite video. Audio connections are limited to TosLink, digital coaxial, and analog stereo. It doesn’t have any multi-channel analog outputs, so if your AVR or surround processor isn’t HDMI capable, you should look at other options. Other connections include a recessed USB port in order to meet the required 1 GB of storage for BD-Live (not included) and an Ethernet jack for network access. It doesn’t provide Wi-Fi.

The BDP-N460 supports all of the interactive BD-Live features (Profile 2.0) once you add the USB memory, and it will also do PiP (Profile 1.1). Although Sony calls it a network player, the BDP-N460 can’t connect to a DLNA network like LG’s BD390 or Sony’s PS3, but both of those players are more expensive (and have built-in Wi-Fi).

When people are first exposed to Blu-ray, the picture quality generally blows them away—as it should—but the improved audio is just as impressive. The Sony internally decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and sends it via HDMI as PCM. If you own a newer AVR or surround processor with onboard decoding for these codecs, the player can send raw bitstreams via HDMI. However, you’ll lose the secondary audio (such as PiP commentary tracks) and menu sound effects on Blu-ray Discs.

Setup and User Interface
The BDP-N460 uses the same XMB user interface that the PS3 uses. There are four icons (Setup, Photo, Video, and Network), each with subheadings that have various options. Strangely, Sony lists all of the Network channels under Video, not Network. You’ll only use Network to get the player’s registration code in order to activate the streaming features via Sony’s Website. In order to activate Netflix, you must register the player with Sony first (a two-step process).

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