Every year there seems to be a model in the Sony range of home cinema systems that ticks all the boxes – the right features, a great sound and picture experience, and a good value price. For the 2012/13 model year, it looks like the BDV-N590 is that model.
Familiar looks and a good first impression
First impressions only go so far in home cinema equipment – the looks are important, but it’s what under the hood that really matters. Fortunately, the BDV-N590 gets the first bit right.
The styling is heavily borrowed from the PlayStation 3 but that’s not a bad thing. It gives the system a familiar and confident looking air that is missing from many systems these days. The quality of the materials also helps, with the matte finish and contrasting gloss side panel adding an extra bit of interest. This is definitely one of those systems that will look good under your TV.
The speakers continue this trend and are well designed and attractive. They are also reasonably compact at 255mm high, and have a respectable weight to them at 600g. One feature we particularly liked was the speakers are wall mountable if you’d prefer not to have them free-standing. The centre speaker (at 331mm wide) is much simpler in design making it more likely to blend into its surroundings. The all important subwoofer is obviously bigger at 326mm high by 376mm deep and 191mm wide, but it should be easy to tuck it away behind your television stand or similar – and it’s an inoffensive looking unit if it does need to be on show.
Fully featured, including built-in Wi-Fi
Probably the feature we moan about most is the lack of any built-in Wi-Fi networking on even the most recent systems, so we’re glad to see it included with the BDV-N590. It saves the extra £50 or so you’d have to spend if you can’t run a wire to the device. This is taken full advantage of with the vast array of online content available on the Sony Entertainment Network, as well as the usual offerings of BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm.
Whilst the feature set is impressive, where the BDV-N590 differs from many all in one systems though is the simple addition of 2 HDMI sockets. This gives the system real future-proofing – connect your games console and Sky box and you have a system that while not as flexible as a separate amplifier, will certainly suit most people’s needs.
There’s also an iPod dock and USB socket so you’re pretty limitless when it comes to what to watch!
A sound quality that really shouldn’t be this good
With an output of 1000w there is certainly enough power to make the most of modern high-definition audio sound tracks. But it’s the way it’s delivered that most impressive. The sound is well-balanced, with a dynamic sound range that was impressively delicate when it needed to be. There were some slight tell-tale signs of bass boominess at times, and the overall depth from the sub was not as deep as we’d like, but for a system in this price range these are minor worries.
To test two channel audio, we connected a standard laptop to the system using the USB port and ran a few MP3 tracks through the BDV-N590. Again the Sony impressed and showed it’s not just a one trick pony, with a coherent and pleasant sound that backed up Sony’s claims to bring “MP3 tracks close to CD quality”. Even the five built-in sound modes sounded respectable.
What to consider…
Whilst bass junkies won’t be satisfied with the low frequencies on offer, there is little else to really worry about.
The good looks do have their downside – loading discs into the little side slot to the right was a little fiddly at times. You may also need to consider the width of the device – at 460mm it’s 30mm wider than the “standard” width of 430mm that DVD/Blu-ray Players and other home cinema equipment. It’s a good idea to measure up first if you need it to go a particular equipment rack or tv unit.
Why you should buy the Sony BDV-N590
As well as great sound and an impressive selection of built-in features, the 2 HDMI inputs give this system that little bit extra over its rivals. But it’s the overall package where the 590 wins. You rarely get so much being done so well and for such good value, and for that reason the Sony gets the full 5 stars. Rating: /5