SONY BDP-S790 4K (upscaling) 3D Blu ray Player Review
Review by: JoeRod
It's been awhile since I have been excited about a new Blu ray player.  A long while. In comes the new Sony BDP-S790. I was more curious about its ability to upscale to 4K than anything else but that quickly changed when I was able to see just how well rounded of a Blu ray player it is. It is not only the best "Streaming" Blu ray player I have seen to date but it is also has the best image quality for both 2D and 3D Blu ray. It has really upgraded my set up and it has been awhile since I could say this from a Blu ray player. Of course using a 1000ES 4K projector (from Sony) makes that very difficult for other brands to keep up. More on that later. I will say load times are very fast and to be honest I have not once had to wonder if a movie was loading. The last Blu ray players from Sony I was excited this much about was the 5000ES and then the 1000ES. And for those that remember the NS999ES DVD player from them as well! As time marches on Blu ray players seem to keep shrinking. The 790 at least is a little beefier than its current line and last line offerings. I like the little white lighted LED (eject, play and stop) on the top of the unit. Nice touch! Of course my favorite feature on a Blu ray player is Dual HDMI outs. I am still a firm believer in the road less traveled is the most optimal. Why send the video signal through a video processor or Receiver/pre-pro when you don't have to? The 100% best image you can achieve is going straight to your display. No detours! HDMI 1 goes to your display while HDMI 2 sends the audio to your Receiver/pre-pro. Easy! In the menu there is a AV Separation (pic below) setting you must engage. So how does the image get to such a high quality? When sending in 1080p you have the Video settings after you hit Options on the remote. There are a few presets but also a Custom 1 and 2. I use Custom 1 for Blu ray 2D and 2 for Blu ray 3D. There is:

TEXTURE REMASTER- adjusts the sharpness and details of the edges.
SUPER RESOLUTION- Improves resolution.
SMOOTHING- Reduces on screen banding by smoothing gradations on flat areas. 
CONTRAST REMASTER- auto arranges the black and white levels so that the screen is not too dark and the image is modulated.
CLEAR BLACK- adjusts the display of the dark elements of the image. Shading is not suppressed. Makes beautiful black tones. 

Having these video settings alone make a huge difference. Sony has mastered their format. In the "HOME" menu you can also select YCbCr, HDMI Deep Color, Super Bit Mapping, 4K Output as well as others. The Super Bit Mapping I have always been a fan of. It smooths the gradation of video signals. The 4K output is surprisingly done quite well. My Sony VPL VW1000ES 4K projector can accept a 4K signal. I was told the Video Processing chip in the 1000ES projector alone is about 4 or 5K. So the fact the 790 can come close to it is a real compliment. I am still going back and forth but I must admit being a tweaker at heart I think I prefer sending in 1080p since those Video Adjustments are not available when you send in upscaled 4K. No free lunch! I will say I am still having issues flipping back and forth between 4K and 1080p. Maybe Sony can fix this with a newer firmware update. It literally takes a few minutes (and trys) to get the 790 to go back to 4K once it is in 1080p. Hmmmm. I am using a Monster HDMI cable (one of their latest) so I am pretty sure that is not the cause. Sony does recommend using one of their cables in the manual (pamphlet) and they even go as far as listing a part number: 1-834-169-22 which can be ordered by calling
1-877-865-7669. I will say they are not expensive at all. Unfortunately the longest they offer is 16 feet. I will try either another Monster {UPDATE: Will be trying Monster's new Hyper Speed HDX 1000 and will report back with my findings.} There's always something and with new technology that is so true. Back to the 790 though. I am seeing excellent details and more vibrant color that I have not seen yet with Blu ray discs. It is too easy to spot makeup on the faces now. Do I dare say it is time to top off the resolution? UPDATE: The new Monster HDX Hyper Speed 35 foot cable works perfectly fine with sending upconverted 4K. 

As you can see the "manual" is like a pamphlet. The remote is pretty much like the other models except it has a more aluminum like finish. I do like the Netflix and SEN (SONY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK) buttons. Though I do admit I still use a lighted Sony remote that came with the 770. That and of course my Harmony 1100. 
Upon turning on I was alerted of a new upsdate. Also I like how the 790 (and other Sonys) as you what size screen. It helps optimize the image to your size.
The Dual HDMI outs is set below. 4K will not be output to compatible displays when resolution is not set to AUTO. Otherwise 1080p will be sent instead.
As you can see below in the middle is what you get when you hit the OPTIONS button. And a Blu ray player first below showing upscaled 4K being sent!
This is the awesome Video Settings you can tweak the image with. I am loving Clear Black. It is a great combination with Super Bit Mapping. Have fun tweaking. I certainly have.
When you hit the DISPLAY button you get very detailed info about the movie that is playing. Nice touch!!!
The amount of detailed resolved is astounding. I could make out every freckle. I am still picking my jaw up off the floor everytime I try a different movie. Same results  when testing out my Blu ray 3D collection. Even DVDs look very good. I have not found any weak spots yet. The Sony BDP-S 790 has proved to be a game changer!
Setting up the 790 was as easy as it gets when it comes to Blu ray players. Sony's crossbar GUI has finally grown on me. I especially am a fan of how they have music (like Slacker) and video (like a disc, or Netflix) under their designated spots. That makes it very easy. Even my Wife Jaclyn can have her favorite music playing in under a minute. Not bad Sony! We use Amazon on Demand and Netflix quite a bit sometimes. We both agree Netflix at 1080p out of the 790 has never looked better. It is very easy to navigate and very responsive. Dolby Digital Plus is also a plus. Vudu Trailors looked amazing! On a side note I also logged into my Facebook account and I have to admit that seemed funny looking at family and friend's status updates on my screen. Not sure I will use it often but it worked easily. As for music, I only tried a couple of my SACDs and CDs and I will say the Two Channel audio out is very good. Of course I am using an Onkyo 3009 (as a pre-pro), Parasound Halo A51 with BG Radia Speakers (Review coming soon) so no matter what results should be great. They were on par with using my Oppo 93. I also used Sony's excellent STR-DA5700ES Receiver. Both work well together and make a great team! Review here...
So overall how does the Sony compare to others? I had a Panasonic 320 here recently. I have a Sony 780, Oppo 93, Panny 310 and have Reviewed quite a few others the past couple years. The 790 reminds me of the same excitement I had when I first hooked up the Pioneer 09FD, Denon DVDA1 and Sony 5000ES. The best part of this excitement is the fact that the 790 only has a msrp of 249.00. Now that's progress! I really did not like how the new Panasonic interface with their remote touch pad feels. Maybe it is something I could get used to. Image wise the 790 looks better both with Streaming and with Blu ray 2D and 3D. The tweaking definitely helps. You can effectively increase brightness and contrast for displays that our 3D brightness challenged. Not to mention you can add the Super Resolution adjustment for displays that do not allow 120hz or 240h during 3D. It definitely helps the effect that much more. It also beats the Oppo 93. As much as I like all the features in the 93 the 790 stands out more. The menu is more seamless and the image is stronger. And 3D again looks better on the 790. Netflix is also better. It is going to be tough for the competition. Sony gives you all of this and at this price. Not to mention the ability to upscale to 4K. Who knows, when TVs start coming out that accept 4K the 790 may be better at scaling than most first gen TVs. I wouldn't bet it against it!Every once in awhile a product comes along that becomes a game changer. Well the 790 is it! This will be the LAST Blu ray player I own until true 4K Blu ray debuts. You can take that to the bank along with the extra funds you will save by getting the Sony BDP-S790...

SONY VPL-VW1000ES 4K 3D Projector
SONY BDP-S790 Blu ray Player
SONY STR-DA5700ES Receiver

Onkyo TX-NR3009 pre-pro, DirecTV HR24 500, Xbox 360, PS3, Simplay EDGE GREEN Video Processor, Monster Power HTS 5100, Oppo 93 Blu ray, Panasonic BDT 310 3D Blu ray player, MonsterVision 3D glasses, Sony 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A51 AMP, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar 120.5" screen with a Carada Masquerade Masking System. BG RADIA CENTER CC-220 & FS-420s (Left and Right), Pinnacle Speakers- Heights BD500 OWs, Surrounds Super K555s and the KLCR for surround back. Subwoofers- Pinnacle Dig 600, plus four MTX Lolita Low Profiles. 7.6 Sound! Remotes: Harmony 1100. Monster M1000 Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom.

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​Thanks for reading. See you soon. Feel free to EMAIL ME with any type of question you might have. And again thanks to many of you out there for your kind words and support. Without many of you my Reviews would not be possible...

This is for 2D. Rest of settings are at default. Displays may vary...
3D settings. Color is at 2 and brightness at 3. Rest at default...