The Sony UBP-X800M2 is a slightly improved version of the UBP-X800 (2017) and brings first and foremost support for Dolby Vision, and an improved media player. With the allures of a true all-round player, this Sony seems to be an excellent choice, but is that so?
Sony UBP-X800M2 – 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, DVD-Audio, CD-Audio, CD-R / RW
- Extras: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, WiFi (802.11n) built-in, USB / DLNA media player, Internet applications, Bluetooth (4.1 Audio out)
- Dimensions : 430 x 50 x 265 mm
- Weight: 3.8 kg
- Consumption: 15 / 0.35 Watt
- List price: 350 euros
Sony UBP-X800M2 – design
The UBP-X800M2 is in the same chassis as the UBP-X800, which is no surprise given the name. You also get a fairly large player (at least compared to most competitors) with a stylish appearance. The chassis and housing are made entirely of metal, which gives it a lot of weight. It makes it very sturdy, we would put something on it without fear, and moreover very quiet. The player produces hardly any sound and is inaudible in typical use.
The housing is finished in black with a light grain structure, and a glossy black plastic border all around. In the front right, it has two keys: power and eject. There is no display, and a small green LED is the only indication that the player is on. We would have preferred a small display with some info on this model. Because the green LED is so small, you can easily forget that the player is on.
Like almost all Ultra HD Blu-ray players, the UBP-X800M2 is equipped with a dual HDMI connection. The first output provides both image and sound (HDMI 2.0), the other only provides audio (HDMI 1.4). If your AV receiver or soundbar is not able to transmit Ultra HD HDR images, you connect the player to your TV with a separate cable for image and with a different cable to your AV receiver or soundbar for audio.
Many other connections are not provided. A coaxial digital audio output is the solution for even older audio solutions, although we would have preferred an optical digital audio connection here, it is a bit more common. It is not really a downside, we recommend the use of HDMI anyway, since that is the only way to pass on the most modern formats ( Dolby Atmos DTS-X). At the front we find a USB connection, and the player is equipped with a wired and wireless network.
Another last option to listen to the audio is via Bluetooth. For example, you can connect a Bluetooth headset or soundbar. The player also supports the AAC codec and Sony's own LDAC in this way. Both deliver better sound quality if your Bluetooth audio solution also supports them.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – ease of use
The Home menu is an example of simplicity. Central are four icons, one for the disk player, one for the USB player, one for the media servers on your network and one for the settings. At the bottom you will get an icon for Netflix and YouTube.
You navigate very quickly through this simple setup. The experience in the other parts of the player is also smooth and smooth. The menu with settings is very extensive, but the explanation you get with each setting is very limited. The manual may be necessary if you really want to set everything manually. Fortunately, Sony provides an 'Auto' option for most settings that makes the most important choices for you.
Activate the 'Network Content' option at '24p output' so that Netflix also runs at 24 frames per second comes in for the typical movie look. The other important setting is “Dolby Vision”, more on that.
The remote control is fine. The long, narrow shape fits perfectly in your hand. The d-pad is centered under your thumb, with the Home key and the playback keys below. The keys do not require too much pressure, and due to the different shapes you will even find the right key by touch, as soon as you are familiar with the layout.
Selecting another audio track or subtitle is done quickly with the specific keys. There are also buttons to control the volume and inputs of the TV. Via the “Display” button you can call up information about the video played. In addition to information about the source file, he also shows what is being output via HDMI.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – features
The player offers YouTube and Netflix, and that is the only internet offer that you will find on this player. So very limited. Both services stream 4K HDR; so in that respect they are complete. If you want Dolby Vision (via Netflix), you must activate the Dolby Vision setting in the player menus. The player switches every time that you select a different series or film of image mode, so yes even when you are browsing, and that quickly becomes very difficult. Although we think it is good that a player also offers streaming services, in this case it is better to use the apps on your television. It is not the only problem with Sony's implementation of Dolby Vision.
The media player can handle all major formats, including HDR, Ultra HD and subtitles. The player is also well equipped for audio, and besides all popular formats you can also offer FLAC, ALAC and even DSD for audiophiles.
Those who have an extensive library of disks in a variety of formats will certainly appreciate the Sony. In addition to DVD, Blu-ray (Ultra HD and 3D), and CD, the UBP-X800M2 even plays DVD-Audio and SACD discs. This allows us to label the player as universal.
All audio formats can be brought out via HDMI as bitstream (for this you have to switch off Secondary Audio in the audio menus) or decoded as PCM. Dolby Atmos and DTS-X are output when you put the player in Bitstream. Recoding to another audio codec is not possible, but unless you use a really old amplifier that is no problem.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – Image quality
The image performance of the UBP-X800M2 is excellent. He recognizes all film and video frame rates and ensures excellent deinterlacing. Knurled edges or moire effects are therefore very exceptional. The player offers various image presets, including a preset for viewing in a dark or bright environment. Switch the image mode to 'Direct' via the Options key, so you can be sure that the player sends the image untouched.
If you want to tinker with the image for some reason, you can choose the Custom modes. There you get the option to use different noise cancellations (FNR (Fine Noise), BNR (Block Noise) and MNR (Mosquito Noise), which can be useful if, for example, you want a separate image preset for DVD (which contains more noise). An alternative is the 'Auto' image preset, which chooses the noise reduction settings based on the source and content.
This player supports Dolby Vision and HLG in addition to HDR10. , just like on the Sony televisions, which is a clear downside, because although Dolby Vision content is currently more important, there is certainly more HDR10 + content coming in. The Sony, which may call itself universal in terms of disk support, is making a mistake fall for HDR .
The HDR display is fine, but does not offer the possibilities to adjust the tone mapping as it can be done on the Panasonic players, for example. a contrast and brightness setting, but you stay better off there. It would be better if Sony offered a single setting that slightly adjusted the tone mapping.
If you connect the UBP-X800M2 to a non-HDR TV, it will perform the conversion from HDR to SDR itself. That conversion can be adjusted in five steps. Lower settings make the image clearer, at the expense of some white detail, higher settings do the opposite.
The Dolby Vision implementation is a plus, but leaves something to be desired. Unlike other players, this Sony does not automatically recognize that you are enriching Dolby Vision content. You have to set this manually via the image menu. A small problem in itself you think, but with a difficult side effect. As soon as you activate the Dolby Vision setting, the player also crams all other HDR content in a Dolby Vision jacket. And that is not without consequences. He clips away white detail above 1,000 nits. Since the player makes that decision, the TV can do nothing about it, no matter how good his tonemapping would be or how clear he would be.
In addition, we saw that errors in the conversion could creep in too. . On the above HDR test pattern you can see that clearly in the blue rectangles. When Dolby Vision is off, they show four concentric rectangles (the fourth is barely visible in this photo), which indicates that you see blue detail up to 2,000 nits. With Dolby Vision activated, you can clearly see that clipping is no longer possible and the inner rectangle is even visible. That is clearly incorrect. Something similar is noticeable on the magenta rectangle, but that effect is less visible on the photo.
In short, it is best to only activate Dolby Vision if you actually look at Dolby Vision content. Not only is that very annoying, it is also not always possible to know in advance that a disk or Netflix item is available in Dolby Vision. For Netflix you will only find out if you effectively switch on Dolby Vision. For discs you need to look in the information at the back of the package to see if the disc contains Dolby Vision. And unfortunately, that is not always mentioned.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – Conclusion
The UBP-X800M2 was a good opportunity for Sony to align its top model with what we expect from a top player. Starting with the X800, the addition of Dolby Vision and HLG is certainly a good thing. But the fact that you have to select Dolby Vision manually makes the use particularly inconvenient. If you leave Dolby Vision activated for all HDR content, you risk seeing an image error here and there. In addition, the lack of HDR10 + is a missed opportunity to deliver a truly universal player. The smart TV offer is limited to YouTube and Netflix.
The Sony does provide excellent image quality, and is a good choice if you are looking for a universal player that can also handle all your audiophile discs. He is also very robust, does his job in silence, delivers a great media player and works very smoothly. Those who want to listen to their discs in peace can connect a Bluetooth headset directly to the player. The Sony is also perfectly priced compared to its direct competitors. The Panasonic DP-UB820 is a better, but slightly more expensive, choice for videophiles, but does not support SACD or DVD-Audio.