With digital switchover all but complete in the UK, the next big trend in television is for internet connected TVs which allow you to access internet based content such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube.
If the thought of replacing your newly purchased HD TV fills you with dread, don’t worry! As with the switch to multi-channel TV, it’s possible to add web capability to an existing TV without spending a fortune.
As well as selected Freesat and Freeview boxes, this can be done by adding a media player such as the Apple TV or certain models of Blu-ray player to your set up. Plus, next year you’ll also be able to buy a YouView box – we recently covered this new TV service in detail.
For the past few days we’ve been playing with a Sony BDP-S185 Blu-ray player. Currently selling around the web for under £80, this is probably the cheapest internet enabled Blu-ray player on sale in the UK.
It’s also one of the smallest, measuring just 290mm across the width. Finding space for this isn’t going to be a problem even in the smallest of homes.
Although the BDP-S185 isn’t speediest player we’ve used – taking around 10 seconds to load to menus when taken out of standby – we’ve generally been impressed. Both Blu-rays and upscaled DVDs look great and the BDP-S185 can also play content from USB sticks and display photos.
Possibly reflecting its low price, the player lacks a WiFi connection meaning can only be connected to the internet via an ethernet cable plugged into your broadband router/modem.
If your TV and router aren’t close together you’ll need to use a pair of homeplugs to make the connection.
Another obvious cost saver is the remote control which looks and feels just about as cheap as it’s possible to imagine.
The BDP-S185 also lacks a traditional display on the front of the unit, however this is more than made up for with an onscreen information bar which can displayed with the press of a button.
Internet content includes free access to the iPlayer, YouTube and Five on Demand. Sadly Sony doesn’t have agreements in place to allow it to include the ITVPlayer or 4oD.
As well as the free catch-up and vide services, there’s also the option of paid-for content via the Sony Entertainment Network. Sadly this is where our enjoyment of the BDP-S185 hit a bit of stumble.
While we’re delighted with the device itself, Sony’s past security scares meant we were pretty wary of signing up for the paid content.
The promise of 30 days free music access was appealing but to qualify you have to sign up to a premium account which involves handing over your payment details. As millions discovered this year, that’s not always a good idea with Sony.
Whether you’re looking for a low-cost replacement or your first internet capable Blu-ray player, at around £80 the BDP-S185 is fantastic value. It looks and performs great and is the ideal way to add internet capability to your TV.
The Sony BDP-S185 is available online, including from Amazon, and from leading supermarkets.