Price (RRP): $1,499
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
The Yamaha BD-S2900 is Yamaha’s first entry into the Blu-ray field, and this model appears to be based on Panasonic Blu-ray technology.
But this is not merely a rebadged Panasonic player. It looks like a Yamaha, with Yamaha’s customary amber LED and styling that makes it a perfect match for any Yamaha home theatre receiver. In addition, Yamaha has added remote control in/out ports and an RS-232C interface, which will be greatly appreciated by system integrators.
Having said that, this unit is a little behind the times. For one thing, it will decode none of the new high definition audio standards, although it will deliver them all in bitstream format to a receiver which will decode them. So, while the unit provides full BonusView picture-in-picture performance, it has to use the ‘core’ Dolby Digital or DTS audio embedded within the high resolution audio tracks in order to deliver the sound from that extra content.
Likewise, the unit lacks BD-Live capability, so some of the interesting additional content available for Paramount titles, and presumably future releases from other companies, is not available.
But the unit does support the addition of extra memory, in the form of Secure Digital flash memory cards. It can display photos from those cards up to full high definition resolution, and play AVCHD video from those camcorders that capture in the format.
The video quality from Blu-ray was routinely superb. You can choose from a number of preset video processing options, or fine tune things with a ‘User’ setting. The sound was great with bitstream of HD audio to a home theatre receiver. In theory, the unit will deliver high resolution audio as a bitstream unless there is menu or PIP sound, but in practice it wouldn’t with most discs. So to get the best of both worlds (HD sound and PIP), I had to keep going into the setup menu.
The DVD video performance wasn’t quite as good because the ‘Auto’ deinterlacing circuit would, like the Sony players, get confused on some difficult material. Unlike the Panasonic, you cannot force this unit into ‘Film’ mode for the best results.