PROS / You can download an app that lets you use your smartphone as a remote.
CONS / The built-in apps take a long time to load.
VERDICT / With its impressive video and audio quality, connectivity options, and built-in apps, Sony’s BDP-S6500 is a premium Blu-ray player that fits nicely in a home theater setup.
The Sony BDP-S6500 is a feature-filled Blu-ray player that supports 4K upscaling, 3D playback and Wi-Fi for streaming video. It is also the winner of the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award, thanks to its impressive video quality, connectivity options and ease of use.
Performance & Video
Like most players, the Sony BDP-S6500 supports 24p playback and HDMI Deep Color, but this machine also upscales to 4K and converts 2D content to 3D. Upscaling is the conversion of HD video to a format that approximates the same resolution as 4K video. 2D to 3D conversion is precisely what it sounds like – turning 2D content into simulated 3D. You just have to have a 3D-compatible HDTV to make use of the feature.
In our hands-on testing, both features performed quite well. Our testing rig included a 3D- and 4K-capable Sony HDTV, a set of active 3D glasses, and a multi-format copy of “Gravity.” Although the converted content wasn't as high quality as natively recorded 3D video, it was still decent. Users looking to take advantage of their 3D TVs will find this feature helpful. Likewise, 4K upscaling isn't a perfect substitute for content recorded in 4K, but it's a similarly useful way to take advantage of a 4K HDTV when you don't purchase 4K Blu-ray discs. Upscaled DVDs had crisp pictures, with deep blacks and vibrant colors.
We timed how long it took each player to reach its home menu on stock settings, and the S6500 took a respectable 11.3 seconds. This is in line with comparable Blu-ray players, which had an average boot time of 12 seconds.
Connectivity & Design
The Blu-ray player has a nice compact body, but it would be better if Sony made the case with metal instead of plastic. Its dimensions are 10 x 7.6 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs only 2 pounds. There are two buttons on the face of the player: one for power and the other to open and close the disk tray.
This Sony has plenty of connectivity options, including both Wi-Fi support and an Ethernet jack. On its front side, underneath the power button, there is a single USB port you can plug an external hard drive into to play your stored video and photo files. You can also download a mobile app on your smartphone that lets you use it as a remote control. The included remote, however, is small but operable in the dark. It even has a shortcut for Netflix.
Besides Netflix, the BDP-S6500 has preloaded apps for Facebook, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, PlayStation Video and a few other services. These apps, among others, are easy to find and access, but they don’t load extremely fast. The layout of the home screen is logical and the interface is easy to use, though.
This Blu-ray player is DLNA compatible, so you can upload your music and video to the cloud and access the files wirelessly. It also supports Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio, so you can use an AV receiver or a sound bar for surround sound.
The back panel has coaxial audio outputs, which should suffice for most people. Most mainstream Blu-ray players feature either coaxial or optical output. Your home audio equipment will usually have one or the other. However, audiophiles may want a second HDMI audio output, which this one doesn’t have.
Help & Support
Sony includes a one-year warranty with its S6500 Blu-ray player. The company also offers support through several channels, including phone, email, live chat and information on its website. Online, you can find a FAQs page, troubleshooting guides and a downloadable manual.
The Sony BDP-S6500 provides excellent video and audio quality and a handful of streaming apps. Premium features like 4K upscaling and 2D to 3D conversion give it added value over entry-level players.