I've had the pleasure of reviewing two of the three Blu-ray players in Yamaha's current stable. The first one, the BD-S473, was a decent performer, but there are certainly other players that offer more features for less money. Let's see how Yamaha's step-up model, the $329.95 BD-S673, competes with the likes of Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and Oppo. Like the BD-S473, the BD-S673 is a 3D-capable Blu-ray player with BD-Live support and internal Dolby TrueHD (7.1) and DTS-HD Master Audio (5.1) decoding. You can access Netflix, YouTube, and Picasa, as well as stream media from DLNA-certified devices. This player adds the built-in WiFi that's missing from the BD-S473 and uses a better 192kHz/32-bit audio DAC. The BD-S673 supports playback of many file formats, such as DIVX+ HD, AVCHD, MKV, WMV, AVI, VOB, MP4, JPEG (HD), MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, and FLAC, making it a decent addition to your living room if you plan to use the player for more than just Blu-ray and DVD discs. If you are interested in SACDs or DVD-Audio discs, however, you will have to go further up the line to the BD-A1020 ($449.95). The BD-S673 does not offer Ultra HD/4K upscaling.
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Yamaha's Blu-ray players are designed to match the aesthetic of Yamaha's A/V receivers. Whereas the BD-S473 has a pretty small form, the BD-S673 is more traditional in size, almost double the height of the BD-S473. It measures 17.13 inches wide by almost 3.5 inches tall by 10.13 inches deep and weighs six pounds. The pop-out disc tray is located front and center on the fascia. The faceplate has a front-panel display, a USB connector, and buttons for power, eject, play, pause, stop, and search/skip. The back of the player has a lot more A/V connection options than the BD-S473, which only offers HDMI output. This player adds component and composite video outputs, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs, and stereo analog outputs. These options are nice if you own an older receiver or TV (due to the Analog Sunset, the component video port cannot output HD).
The BD-S673's front tray loader comes out pretty fast, and load times are on par with other Blu-ray players. Setup was quite simple. I was able to connect to my WiFi without a problem, and using the network features was easy. The remote control that comes with the BD-S673 is larger than that of the BD-S473 and has a good radius and range of distance. I enjoyed using Yamaha's AV Controller app for iOS on my iPad mini (Android and Kindle Fire versions are also available); it is a fun tool to have around the house. You do not have to be in the same room as the player for the controller to work so, when listening to music, I could adjust volume, skip to the next song, or pause from anywhere in the house. Again, I wish the app had a virtual keyboard to make it easier to input text within Netflix, YouTube, and Picasa.
I enjoyed watching The Avengers (Marvel Studios/Disney) and The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) on Blu-ray through the BD-S673. The video quality of Blu-ray material was excellent, and the DTS-HD MA sound was good. SD video performance was much better here than it was on the BD-S473. In my tests of standard-definition DVDs, I saw no obvious artifacts. If you're looking for good up-conversion, I would say this player is more than up to the task.
Read about the high points and low points of the Yamaha BD-S473 on Page 2.