Reviews at AV MAX are incomplete without an Onkyo addition. They’ve been sending us their receivers and speakers for as long as we can remember, all the while designing budget-friendly Blu-ray players. Since we are in the times of 3D-everything, they have hit us with a 3D Blu-ray player named BD-SP809, an upgrade from their 2D 808. It looks like a typical Onkyo product so let’s hope it brings the performance we’re used to from them.
OUT OF THE BOX
You can trust Onkyo for bringing products that look, feel and actually are user friendly. That does come with a down-side - they all land up looking as traditional as ever. The BD-SP809, especially if you get the black finish instead of the white, follows the same path. But it has got some weight to it that makes it fit into your home-theatre system well. The disc tray is dead-center, right above the stretched LED. The buttons don’t seem to have a lot of symmetry; in fact they’ve been placed deliberately at a slant so as to bring some change to simplicity. The symmetry exists between the right and left sides of the front panel where the power button on one side and the play button on the other are of the exact size. The back panel does look like it has plenty of ports although they’ve been arranged in such a way so as to not look very much alike. That is quite a design feat especially for Onkyo, primarily because we’ve gotten so used to looking at their receiver back panels that always looked packed to the brim.
There isn’t half as much under the hood of the 809 as you’d find in the Blu-ray players coming out these days. What it does primarily is playback standard and 3D Blu-rays. It also supports the rest of the common disc formats like DVD and CDs although it doesn’t have the facilities to render SACDs and other hi-definition audio. With standard definition video like 576i/p or 720p, the 809 uses its Qdeo video processor to upscale the video to 1080p. The processor also removes things like video noise, jaggies, feathering, etc. that creeps into interlace and non-1080p files.
Although you do get a USB port on the back panel, the amount of formats you can read from it are limited. You can playback your DivXs and even AVCHD or DivX HD formats, but you won’t get an MKV or even a FLAC file working. This news will dampen the interest for anyone with a wide collection of FLACs as they are increasingly becoming the preferred downloadable uncompressed format for music. To add to it, the Ethernet port on the back panel isn’t for Netflix or YouTube, but just for BD-Live content. This again is a huge blow to buyers looking for a versatile player that can give them access to online content. If you do have a LAN setup in your home, you could use the player to hook up to it but then again there are several video/audio formats that the 809 just doesn’t play back.
Besides the common connectivity options, the one (or rather two) interesting options are the two HDMI outputs. More and more players seem to be coming with this because this is a time where people are switching over to Blu-rays but haven’t quite upgraded their AV receivers to 3D just yet. So you can run an HDMI cable directly to your 3D display device using one of the HDMI ports, while running another cable from the second HDMI port to your 2D AV receiver just for audio amplification. If there weren’t two options, you would have to use either the digital or analogue audio options to run into your AV receiver which can get more cumbersome.
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