The Sony UBP-X700 is a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player that appears to be a slightly stripped down version of the UBP-X800 but on the other hand offers support for Dolby Vision. We test the player extensively.
Sony UBP-X700 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- Connections: 2x HDMI, 1x digital coaxial audio out, 1x network connection, 1x USB
- Disc formats : Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, BD-R / RE, DVD-Video, DVD + R / RW, DVD-R / RW, SACD, CD-Audio, CD-R / RW
- Extras: HDR10, Dolby Vision (after FW), WiFi (802.11n) built-in, USB / DLNA media player, Internet applications, Miracast
- Dimensions: 320 x 45 x 217 mm
- Weight: 1.4 kg
- Consumption: 15 / 0.35 Watt
- List price: 270 euros
Sony UBP-X700 – design
With this player, Sony, compared to the UBP-X800, goes back to a simpler design of 2016. The player is compact , almost the same size as the Panasonic DMP-UB404 and performed very soberly. The chassis is in metal, which gives it a nice firm feeling. The finish is matte black, with a glossy black strip in front.
The finish is fine, you can hear the player softly as he plays discs but that sound will quickly disappear into the background when the movie soundtrack starts. The player is equipped with two buttons at the front right, power and eject. A tiny green LED is your only indication that the player is on. In short, a compact player with emphasis on functionality, rather than design.
The player is equipped with two HDMI connections at the back. This is now becoming a standard choice for Ultra HD Blu-ray players. It allows you to route the audio to your audio system via a separate HDMI cable, in case it is unable to transmit Ultra HD HDR video signals to your television. The other HDMI connections then only take the image directly to your television.
Sony also opted for a coaxial digital audio output, rather exceptional, since most sounbars are equipped with optical digital. But because we actually assume that consumers will mainly use audio via HDMI, we do not find it a downside. There are no analog outputs on this player. There is a USB connection at the front, and the player is equipped with a wired and wireless network (802.11n). If you want to view the screen of your smartphone on TV, you can do so via Miracast. The device uses an external power supply block.
Sony UBP-X700 – ease of use
The user interface of this player excels in simplicity. The Home screen is constructed as a grid icons that immediately show all functions of the player. On the left you will find a list of apps presented by Sony, on the right is your own selection (‘My Apps’), which you can of course adjust. There are the disk reader and the USB reader as standard.
The interface navigates smoothly and the device responds quickly. In the institutions you will find all important choices, which provide a line of explanation, although in many cases this is too concise. Sony provides a ‘car’ selection for almost every institution and you can choose it safely. At ’24p output’ we advise you to also activate this in ‘Network content’, so that you can watch films and series that come in via Netflix in 24 fps with that soft film look. If you deactivate this, you will receive the 60fps version. As always, do not forget to switch the used HDMI input to HDR mode on your television (Ultra HD Color or a similar setting).
In the audio setting you must deactivate ‘BD Secondary Audio’ if want to send your bitstream audio outside.
The remote control is just as compact as the player, but has a good layout. The keys are pleasant and sufficiently large. Layout and design make it possible to find the right key, even in the dark.
With the ‘Display’ button you show some information about the played video, but unlike the Samsung and Panasonic players, the Sony is more scanty with his information. An indication of the resolution, framerate and whether or not it is an HDR signal, are the only details you will find out. We also find an ‘audio’ and ‘subtitle’ button on the remote, with which you quickly adjust the audio track or subtitle track. On many other players you have to use the menus, those two buttons we find very useful.
Sony UBP-X700 – features
The internet offer of this player is surprisingly limited. Netflix and YouTube are available, and you can stream HDR and Ultra HD content via both platforms. However, Amazon Video is missing. Sony could not tell us when this app is coming. You will also get Spotify, Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall, Rakuten TV and Mubi.
The media player is very complete and could handle all the formats we used to play. Only the somewhat older Divx is not supported, but the open source version Xvid is. Ultra HD and HDR files are also played back, and subtitles in many formats were no problem at all. The audio player is very complete, and also plays FLAC and ALAC alongside all popular formats. For audiophiles, there is even support for DSD files, and the player can also play SACD discs, making it an almost universal player.
Also all audio formats that a Blu-ray disc can contain, from Dolby Digital and DTS to the lossless versions Dolby True HD and DTS HD MA, you can send out bitstream or decoded (PCM). Dolby Atmos and DTS-X are supported when you put the player in Bitstream (and your audio equipment can display them of course). The option to recode to another standard is missing.
Sony UBP-X700 – Image quality
The UBP-X700 achieves excellent image performance. The deinterlacing avoids almost all problems with serrated edges in almost horizontal edges. The player recognizes all video and movie frame rates. Sometimes that can take a second, and then there is some moiré possible, but in the end the player always finds the right rhythm. It is equipped with a number of picture modes (including one for dark and bright surroundings), but as always we recommend to ignore them. Set the image mode (via the Options key) to ‘Direct’ so that the player transfers the images untouched. The only reason why you would set an image mode yourself is to use the built-in noise reduction, in the exceptional case that your television performs poorly in that area. He can easily eliminate random noise, but block noise remains difficult. In that case you can also choose the ‘Auto’ image mode, which should only influence noise reduction, and choose noise reduction based on media and content.
The Sony currently only supports HDR10, but would also support Dolby Vision via a firmware upgrade in the summer. We hope that the problems that Sony currently has with the Dolby Vision upgrade of its 2017 top television models do not repeat themselves with this player. So that remains to be seen. HDR10+ support seems unlikely for the time being, Sony has not literally spoken out against HDR10+ but it clearly showed that the priorities lie elsewhere.
The Sony performs well with HDR images, but does not offer options to adjust the HDR view. Given the sometimes limited capacities of some HDR TVs and the fact that you can not always intervene broadly on the image, we find it here, in contrast to classical content, a useful feature. You can set a custom image mode and tinker with contrast and brightness, but that is strongly recommended for HDR playback. We would rather see an institution that slightly adjusts the EOTF curve, with some explanation.
Ironically, Sony offers that option if the player is connected to a non-HDR TV. The player himself does the HDR to SDR conversion. You can set this via the menu in five steps. Lower settings make the image brighter, but hide some detail in the brightest scenes while the higher settings do the opposite of course. The five steps seem to clip white detail at about 300, 400, 650, 800 and 1,000 nits. Step 3 seems to us the best compromise, but that is partly a matter of taste.
Sony UBP-X700 – Conclusion
Compared to the UBP-X800 you look like only support for DVD audio, HiRes audio, and Bluetooth (with LDAC) to lose. In return you get Dolby Vision support, albeit in the future (summer). The lighter chassis is not only an outward adjustment, but also makes the player no longer perfectly silent, although you can not call him noisy.
As the main negative we are waiting for the Dolby Vision upgrade. Given the problems with the Dolby Vision upgrade of Sony’s 2017 top models, and the delay that also the LG UP970 for this upgrade, it is clear that this kind of updates is not always guaranteed perfect. We also find it unfortunate that the player (hopefully for the time being) does not offer an Amazon Video app, and we hope that he will expand its smart TV offer anyway.
But the Sony UBP-X700 also has a lot of advantages. To begin with, it is an excellent player, for all your drives as well as all your media files. It is smooth, has a good interface and delivers excellent image quality. Thanks to SACD support you can almost call him a universal player. If we look at the price, this is a very attractive player, with a feature set that will suffice for most people.