SONY UBP X700 Review: Compact Sony 4K spinner has Vision

SONY UBP X700 Review – As Sony prepares to rollout Dolby Vision on its 4K TV range, it’s released a disc player to match. But does the pared-down spec of the UBP-X700 limit its allure? Mark Craven reports

WITH THE UBP-X700, Sony has added a new player to its Ultra HD Blu-ray stable that promises some improved functionality overs its predecessors, yet cuts other corners to hit a new, mass market price point.

It looks very much like a step-down deck. Front on, it’s visibly smaller and less domineering than its premium brethren, and the front panel is nondescript. A Sony badge sits on the left-hand edge, a USB input on the right, with acres of black plastic between. There’s no display window, just a green power light, and what at first look like soft touch keys for power and eject turn out to be large panels that need to be physically prodded to operate. It’s not especially stylish, and it doesn’t have that same weight and assurance of build as the UBP-X800. The half-size remote isn’t a design classic either, but is nicely responsive.

The back view is equally uninteresting. There are dual HDMI outputs (one audio-only), plus Ethernet and coaxial digital audio sockets (I’d prefer optical), and nothing else.

The absence of analogue audio outputs hints at this player’s target audience – film and TV fans after a 4K fix.

At the same time, however, the UBP-X700 retains support for Super Audio CD. DVD-Audio, surprisingly added to Sony’s player lineup last year, has been left out.

SONY UBP X700 Review: Will you miss it, though?

The deck offers wide multimedia support, both over a network and USB. It’s ready and willing to playout your hi-res music sources, be they FLAC, WAV or DSD. Yet it doesn’t get Sony’s Hi-Res Audio certification. Such a badge isn’t given based on format support alone; other aspects, such as player construction and components, come into play.

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SONY UBP X700 Review: Globe-trotting home cinema

The UBP-X700, Our sample, has been supplied by UK specialist The Perfect Signal (TPS), and is modded for multi-region BD and DVD playback.

Although all Ultra HD Blu-rays are region-free (as per the BDA specification), the case for having a multi-region deck in your AV rack has only gotten stronger after the last couple of years. Most obviously, there are still countless desirable US releases on Blu-ray (and DVD) that you might fancy spinning, especially from boutique labels such as The Criterion Collection, Shout! Factory and Twilight Time.

More recently, AV hedz have turned to the US for Ultra HD imports, making use of the format’s region-free nature, earlier release dates and (in some instances) superior packages. But a UHD purchase can come bundled with a Region A-locked 1080p BD housing all the extra features… The solution? Consider a multi-region deck.

Switching Blu-ray zones here is achieved simply through the remote control, using the red, green and blue keys to choose from Region A, B or C (the old days of secret key codes is a thing of the past). Multi-region DVD playback is automatic.

The headline feature of the UBP-X700 is its support for Dolby Vision, the next-gen HDR format supported by some 4K Blu-rays (including ones from Sony Pictures).

  • Ultra HD Blu-ray player with future Dolby Vision support
  • Sony’s entry-level UHD player
  • Panasonic DMP-UB320; LG UP970

The UBP-X700 isn’t due its Dolby Vision firmware update until ‘Summer 2018,’ however, so it’s a feature you’ll have to wait for. That may be fine if you’re not yet a DV TV owner, but is an annoyance otherwise.

This player is currently Sony’s only model targeted with a Dolby Vision revamp – the UBP-X800 and UBP-X1000ES appear unlikely to be overhauled. As for the rival HDR10+ format (supported by Fox and Warner Bros), Sony hasn’t committed to anything.

This marks the UBP-X700 out as a player that some will feel is already hamstrung, as Panasonic is promising machines that will spin both formats. But in the mess that is HDR, any buyer wanting to be able to playback both is,

at present, looking at owning two displays. And, with all systems covered by the industry standard HDR10 iteration anyway, it’s hard to get a handle on how this format ‘war’ will play out.

All that can really be said is, if you own or are planning to buy an HDR10+ capable 4K TV (from Samsung, Panasonic or Philips), then this deck might not be the one for you.

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SONY UBP X700 Review: Getting to work

While it waits for its DV firmware, the UBP-X700 puts in an assured shift with 4K (HDR10) platters. The excellent image on Paramount’s Daddy’s Home 2 (see page 100) carries gorgeous colour vibrancy, rich definition and expansive luminance. When Brad (Will Ferrell) gets his Christmas lights in a tangle with a snow blower (Chapter 5), this player sniffs out the twinkling highlights. The interiors of the log cabin, meanwhile, are sumptuously detailed.

1080p BDs, upscaled to 4K by the UBP-X700, show no sign of extraneous noise or suspicious image fettling. 1980 slasher Friday 13th (BD) seems as grubby as ever, but not unwatchably so; modern Western Slow West, with its weirdo aspect ratio, looks clean and solid.

The deck is well-behaved, too. Loading speeds are zippy and it’s generally quiet in operation bar the somewhat rattly disc tray (which, usefully, can be ‘child-locked’ to thwart prying fingers). Rapidly skipping through Chapters on the Goodfellas 4K platter, which previously caused an Oppo UDP-203 to lock up, has the same effect here, though – suggesting this title is not only a picture quality travesty, but either badly encoded or my disc is faulty.

A niggle is that Sony’s user interface isn’t exactly glamorous. The are some rather clunky fonts and it all looks a bit muted and utilitarian. That said, it’s an easy environment to move around. The ‘Apps’ menu provides access to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and Mubi, plus BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 – All4 and ITV Player are absent. The setup menus and handset Options key provide access to various noise reduction modes, output resolution, HDR conversion and image tweaks.

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SONY UBP X700 Review: First of a new Sony breed

At this launch price, the UBP-X700 is not quite the bargain 4K spinner, although it’s certainly stripped back on connectivity and has the same compact, lightweight design as Panasonic’s cheaper DMP-UB320. But while some features have gone from its higher-end siblings, the UHD BD performance prowess remains, and the addition of Dolby Vision playback makes it the first step in a new direction for Sony. And in this multi-region guise, you can chuck any disc in it you like. Barring DVD-Audio…

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SONY UBP X700 Review: PARTNER WITH

DADDY’S HOME 2:

While this Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy sequel raises a smile, it really impresses on 4K Blu-ray with its picture presentation. A great demo disc for when you tire of VFX-heavy fare.

  • The disc tray emerges from behind the UBP-X700’s plastic front panel
  • Rear inputs are limited to HDMI, coaxial and Ethernet – there’s no analogue audio option
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SONY UBP X700 Review: SPECIFICATIONS

ULTRA HD: Yes HDR: Yes. HDR10;

Dolby Vision (future firmware)

UPSCALING: Yes. To 4K

MULTI-REGION: No. Region B BD/R2 DVD (but aftermarket multi-region mod available)

HDMI: 1 x AV output; 1 x audio-only output

COMPONENT: No

MULTI CHANNEL ANALOGUE: No

DIGITAL AUDIO: Yes. Coaxial output

ETHERNET: Yes

BUILT IN WI-FI: Yes

SACD/DVD-A: Yes/No

DIMENSIONS: 320(w) x 45(h) x 217(d)mm

WEIGHT: 1.4 kg

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Features

  • Front-mounted USB port
  • Apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iPlayer, Demand 5, Spotify
  • USB and networked file playback
  • Disc tray child lock
  • Screen mirroring
  • 3D BD playback

Sony delivers a stunningly natural 4K picture for an affordable price – it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser

8 Total Score
SONY UBP X700 Review

Design and build don't dazzle here, and connectivity is limited, but the UBP-X700 lets Sony hit a new 4K price point - and appeal to Dolby Vision TV owners at the same time

PROS
  • Crisp, natural-looking picture
  • Excellent detail and colors
  • Great value
  • Dolby Vision support (pending)
CONS
  • Sound could be punchier and grander
  • Dolby Vision support is 'pending'
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Last update was on: 2020-02-06 7:38 pm
9 Comments
  1. Just got mine from best Buy today. So far so good. Was an update to patch right away, not sure what was about of the firmware update *will be doing some google searching*. Pretty happy right now…coming from someone who owned a LG970 and 870. So far it’s already better in every way.

  2. Can I play an UHD disc sent to my 65vt50 plasma? Will it output 1080p? Would it be any different than blu Ray?

  3. You also mention 2ghz wifi. The x800 has 5ghz and 2ghz. Are you saying the x700 only has 2ghz wifi? If so that is another difference between the x800 and x700.

  4. Thanks to gadgtfreek for the technical comparison of the X700 to the X800…

    This is my first UHD, HDR10 and (soon) Dolby Vision Blu-Ray player! Started 20 years ago with the Sony DVP-S7000 and just upgraded to this UBP-X700 from the Sony BDP-S6500. The UBP-X700 is NOT a high-end unit, but it more than fills the needs of my wife and I. What I wanted was UHD, HDR10, Dolby Vision and decent apps along with a small form factor. My main focus is streaming so…

    Size: For the first time in over 25+ years I don’t have a dedicated room for home theater. The UBP-X700 fits nicely in a small decorative cabinet where a full size unit would not fit. No heat or noise issues in the cabinet.

    Speed: This unit is fast and silent in my opinion.

    Apps: For some reason this player streams at 25% to 100% faster than my brand new X930E depending on service and what’s being streamned. Both units are hard wired to the same switch and I’ve switched ports and the results followed! The apps work about as well as can be expected at this point in time. If all the major apps are UHD and HDR10 across all platforms I’ll be happy. Dolby Vision outside the ATV4K is a bonus for my needs 🙂

    Remote: Like all Sony remotes the UBP-X700 remote sucks (just saying). However, I’ve used URC for 15 years so I’m spoiled!

    Cost: I realize the cost of this unit will drop like a rock later in the year. However, since this is my first UHD player and I had a use it or lose it credit at BestBuy I was not concerned about paying retail. Considering what I’ve paid for units in the past I’m happy.

    Overall I’m very happy with the UBP-X700. This units fits my basic UHD needs and it’s compact in size.

  5. I have this Sony UBP-X700 connected directly to my Sony X930E HDMI port 3 with a brand new 15ft Mono price Certified Premium Cable with NO issues. Tested UHD HDR10 disks and all the major streaming services with no issues. No issues when switching devices and the UBP-X700 is available within 3 seconds (I bet I switched to the X700 close to 50 times in two days of testing and remote programming). The cable has a few bends and it’s running through a wall so fingers crossed as heat and time sometimes changes things.
    I’ve also found that higher frame rate 4K on my X930E’s YouTube app changes resolution due to connection speed negotiating. However, the exact same higher frame rate 4K on my X700 is rock solid. This has happened numerous times in my testing across both devices using “Stats for nerds” as a reference. Again, same switch and the issue follows hard wired port changes. The bottomline is the X930E hits about 1/3 of connection speed max while the X700 hits 2/3 of max. Strange!

    The bottom line, for me, is that until the ATV4K has 4K YouTube I’ll focus on the X700. Since I watch a lot of YouTube this makes the X700 a great investment at this point.

  6. Is the Vudu app in 4k HDR?

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