BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 15, 2010 0 comments
Price: $250 At A Glance: Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio • Streaming options include Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand

Sony sells seven stand-alone Blu-ray players, ranging from its entry level BDP-S360 ($150, HT, July 2009) up to its Elevated Standard BDP-CX7000ES MegaChanger ($1,900, HT, March 2010). But one of the biggest complaints against Sony’s BD players has been the lack of networking features. Well, Sony has addressed that complaint with the BDP-N460. It includes a plethora of streaming options from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Slacker, and a host of other content providers—some more useful than others. Network connectivity is a great add-on feature, but how does the player perform as a disc player? Let’s find out…

Just the Facts
In the waterfall of Sony Blu-ray players, the BDP-N460 is a step up from Sony’s entry-level players. Aesthetically, it looks nearly identical to the BDP-S360, with a simple glossy black plastic facing that drops down to expose the disc tray. The only other buttons on the front are Play, Stop, Eject, and Power.

Ultimate AV Staff Posted: Jul 16, 2006 0 comments

<UL CLASS="square">
<LI>$1,000</LI>
<LI>Digital Video Output: HDMI</LI>
<LI>Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i/p</LI>
<LI>Audio Decoding: DD, DTS, MP3, WMA</LI>
<LI>Ins and Outs: HDMI, component, composite and S-Video, coaxial and Toslink digital audio, two-channel and 5.1-channel analog audio</LI>
<LI>Feature Highlights: Blu-ray Disc Player, upconversion of standard-def DVDs to 720p or 1080i/p via HDMI</LI>
</UL>
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/706sonybdps1.jpg" WIDTH=450 HEIGHT=166 BORDER=0>

Posted: Dec 08, 2006 0 comments

In one significant way, the Blu-ray Disc format got off to an even more inauspicious start than the rival HD DVD format. <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/hddiscplayers/706dsamsungbd/">Samsung's BD-P1000</A> player was the first, and for months, the only BD player on the market. It had shipped with a Noise Reduction circuit cranked up to 11, softening the picture substantially and actually increasing the noise in the image by several orders of magnitude. On top of that, many BD titles released over the last several months have been surprisingly variable in image quality, even compared with broadcast HD. In short, a lot of the BD titles released so far just don't look very good.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 12, 2007 0 comments
The $499 BDP-S300 is an important product, giving Blu-ray some much needed traction in the affordable player category. Combine that with recent news from rental powerhouse Blockbuster that it is expanding Blu-ray titles in its stores (at the expense of HD DVD in most cases), and the BDP-S300 looks like a no-brainer.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 12, 2007 0 comments

The price of machines that will play Blu-ray or HD DVD high-definition discs is coming down. The drop is faster on the HD DVD side of the battle lines, but at $499 Sony's new BDP-S300 is half the price of its (still available) first generation <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/hddiscplayers/1206sonybdps1/">BDP-S1</A>.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 05, 2007 Published: Oct 05, 2007 0 comments
3 More BD 4 U: Three second-gen Blu-ray players.

Hot on the heels of the first, and almost universally lame, generation of Blu-ray players, here's generation II. In the case of two of these players, the big news is a substantial reduction in price. Both are less than half of their predecessors. In the case of the other, the news is its fancy HQV processing, the same that's found in the excellent Toshiba HD-XA2. I have to admit, I get a certain amount of perverse amusement mentioning HD DVD in a Blu-ray review (and vice-versa).

uavKim Wilson Posted: Sep 23, 2008 0 comments

The Sony BDP-S350 is the latest Blu-ray player from the company that invented the format. This is an upgrade from its previous entry-level model, the <A href="http://ultimateavmag.com/hddiscplayers/707sonys300/">BDP-S300</A>, offering more features and options. The blue brushed-aluminum faceplate, similar to the design of the top-end ES series, is attractive and elegant and sure to add some class to all your black components.

Kris Deering Posted: Nov 17, 2008 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Affordable BD-Live performance • Great DVD playback performance • Lacks multichannel analog audio support

More Blu for Your Budget

The BDP-S350 is Sony’s follow-up to the popular BDP-S300. One of the most inexpensive standalone players on the market, the BDP-S350 includes some great new features that the BDP-S300 design didn’t have. Sony overhauled its form factor, with a case that’s nearly half the size of the company’s earlier players. The player also employs a sleek new interface that uses Sony’s popular Xross Media Bar. While player prices have not headed farther south yet, the bang-for-the-buck factor is going up, as players at the lower end of the market add more essential features. Sony’s $400 player is BD-Live ready (firmware update pending), Bonus View PiP capable, and includes bitstream support for the next-gen lossless audio formats from Dolby and DTS.

Kris Deering Posted: Jun 01, 2009 0 comments
Price: $300 At A Glance: Lacks compelling next-generation features • Xross Media Bar offers intuitive setup • Improved video processing • Full interactivity and audio decoding

Sony continues to do its best to deliver great entry-level products for the masses. Most of the market is now approaching this same price point and including more features, such as on-demand video streaming from online sources like Netflix. This makes the competition stiff for the rather bare-bones Sony. However, that doesn’t mean that Sony doesn’t deliver a capable Blu-ray player for the dollar.

The BDP-S360 ($300) is Sony’s newest entry-level offering, and it supports Blu-ray’s full interactive capabilities. This includes BD-Live via its Ethernet connection and Bonus View picture-in-picture. This year, Sony will also release the BDP-S560 ($350), which builds on this platform by adding wireless Internet connectivity and a front-panel USB port.

Kris Deering Posted: Mar 04, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: BD-Live, storage included • Outstanding build quality • Great DVD playback • Full advanced audio decoding • Limited HD video processing • Average load times

Elevating the Blu-ray Standard?

Sony’s Elevated Standard (ES) products have long been at the respected upper end of the company’s product line. I remember Sony’s early ES DVD players were the cat’s meow in terms of solid video performance and features. If you wanted reference-quality DVD playback early on in the format, you wanted an ES player. Now Sony has delivered two ES branded Blu-ray players. For this review, I’m going to look at its new flagship, the BDP-S5000ES.

Kris Deering Posted: Aug 07, 2009 0 comments

Among Sony's vast array of audio/video products, a select few carry the Elevated Standard (ES) designation, which indicates the company's top-flight&mdash;and top-price&mdash;models. There are two Blu-ray player in this elite club, including the flagship BDP-S5000ES, which lists for the extravagant sum of $2000. Now that some Blu-ray players have achieved mass-market status for a tenth of that and many more can be had for $400 to $500, can Sony hope to sell many of these? Do you really get what you pay for? Let's find out...

David Vaughn Posted: Sep 05, 2012 18 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $250 At A Glance: Elegant design • Plethora of streaming options • Fast startup and loading of Blu-ray Discs

Sony single-handedly won the format war with its timely release of the PlayStation 3. Up until the PS3 hit the market in November 2006, HD DVD was beginning to gain the upper hand with disc and player sales. But the vaunted game station changed the marketplace virtually overnight and signaled the beginning of the end for the red-laser format. Fast-forward almost six years, and the PS3 is still the most-owned Blu-ray player on the market, although the standalone units have closed the performance gap and in some cases, surpassed the powerful game system.

David Vaughn Posted: Mar 07, 2011 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Google TV and Wi-Fi • Speedy loading of Blu-ray Discs • Ergonomically challenged remote control

Blu-ray meets Google TV

Google TV strives to deliver a new experience by bringing your TV and Internet together. It gives its users access to more entertainment options, and its powerful search capabilities make it easier to find what you want to watch. Two of the first products to incorporate Google TV are the Logitech Revue and Sony’s Internet TV Blu-ray player (NSZ-GT1). While both are based on the same platform, Sony ups the ante by including a Blu-ray player with a $100 price premium. While Kim Wilson explored the virtues of Google TV in our February 2011 issue, I’ll take a look at the NSZ-GT1’s Blu-ray capabilities and see how a Google TV–powered player stacks up against the other streaming Blu-ray players on the market.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 29, 2007 0 comments
Shoot the robot dog. This is an HT gamer's new best friend.

It's just so beautiful. I realize that's a pretty shallow initial evaluation of Sony's much-hyped super-fun-happy-smile machine, the PlayStation 3. But the lines are so bold, the shape is so commanding, and it's all just so. . .shiny. Of course, it's what's inside that counts, and, in this case, that would be the imposing new Cell Broadband Engine, which Sony developed in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba. The Cell engine features a mind-blowing eight processors working in parallel—a main CPU, plus seven Synergistic Processing Units. It's 40 times as powerful as the PlayStation 2's processor, performing 208 billion floating-point calculations per second. This translates to highly detailed, highly interactive environments, complex effects, and bigger battles with a greater number of enemies. Backing this is the RSX graphics-processing unit, which is capable of 4X antialiasing. This can be a real boon in the large-format high-definition universe. The games themselves spin on the PS3's Blu-ray drive and arrive on high-capacity BD-ROM discs.

Shane Buettner Posted: Apr 07, 2008 0 comments
Sony’s gaming console still the Blu-ray player to beat.

[Update: The best just keeps getting better. Sony has announced at long last that a firmware update available April 15th will allow the mighty PS3 to decode lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution, a lossy, higher bitrate version of its codec. This was the last technological hurdle for Sony's mighty gaming console. For those with HDMI switching and an AVR or pre-pro that can process multichannel PCM the PS3 is unequivocally the Blu-ray player to beat. It's not only the fastest and most reliable BD player, it's the cheapest and most advanced. Look to this space for an update to this review once I've had a chance to experience DTS-HD MA and BD-Live. -SCB]

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