Blu-ray Players

Sony BDP-CX7000ES Blu-ray Player (Mega Changer)

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

First off, this player is gigantic. A full six rack units tall in fact. That’s equivalent to three OPPO BDP-83s! Fortunately it's not as heavy as it looks since its interior is a huge cavity for the 400 discs it holds. I imagine if you filled it to capacity though, it would become quite heavy. The front panel has the high-placed bevel feature that all ES components have. Above the bevel is the display which shows disc type, connection and memory status, play mode, disc slot number, chapter, title and timing information and a network connection indicator. Below this is the large opening where discs are loaded. Pressing the open/close key reveals a large space, big enough for your hand, in which to load discs. Media is inserted vertically, label to the right, in small comb-like slots. It might take some fiddling with at first but it's easy once you get the hang of it. This may not be as familiar as the usual disc drawer but once you fill it up, you won’t be going in there very often.

Next to the opening are four buttons labeled Open/Close, Disc Eject, Disc Load and Rental Slot. This last one will turn the carousel to the first slot, which you should leave empty, so you can easily load rented discs. On the right side is a large dial which is used to select a particular disc slot. This works like the jog shuttle on a pro VCR with firm detents to indicate its position. You can turn this dial with the door open or closed. Above the dial are transport keys and below are changer navigation buttons. Aside from opening the door and turning the dial, I controlled everything from the player’s remote or from my Harmony 900.

Sony has always used its own solutions for disc decoding and video processing and the CX7000 is no exception. The included chipset supports 14-bit video upconversion of color from both DVD and Blu-ray. Sony calls this feature Super Bit Mapping. Video can be output from the HDMI 1.3a port at up to 1080p or up to 1080i from component. Composite and S-Video outputs top out at 480i. DVDs can only be upscaled over HDMI, as with any Blu-ray player. Blu-ray content can be output at up to 1080i over component if the disc’s Image Constraint Token has not been activated.

Audio output is handled by your choice of HDMI, 7.1 analog RCAs, or digital via coax or TOSLink. Full support for lossless codecs is included and can be output as a bitstream to a compatible receiver/processor or as LPCM. This is the first player I’ve encountered that determines compatibility without user intervention. It will detect whether your receiver or processor accepts bitstreams and adjust output accordingly. This is very nice since it removes a layer of confusion about what sound formats your particular system may support.

The back panel contains every necessary connection. In addition to the single HDMI 1.3a port there is component, composite and S-Video. Audio connectors include 7.1 analog, digital coax and TOSLink. The USB port is for external memory via thumbdrive. Unfortunately you can’t use it to view pictures or access files. As the CX7000 has no internal memory (shocking in a $1900 player) you will have to provide your own. The BD-Live required Ethernet port is also present along with RS-232 and IR in control jacks. A large fan vent is also present though I never heard this in operation during my time with the player.

The remote is a typical large wand-style with pretty much every control needed to operate the player. It is not backlit, again shocking in a player at this price point. Navigating player functions is fairly easy. You can also program it to operate a connected TV or receiver. You can do this with Sony components via the BRAVIA Sync feature or enter a code set for other brands. In the center is a large navigation keypad followed by two disc sort buttons and the transport keys. At the bottom are volume and channel rockers and controls for dimming the front display, opening the rental slot and loading discs into memory. I didn’t use the remote much and you’ll learn why in the next section.