BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS

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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: 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...

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.

David Vaughn Posted: Sep 05, 2012 20 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]

David Vaughn Posted: Mar 15, 2010 0 comments
Price: $300 At A Glance: Now bitstreams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio • Fast and reliable Blu-ray playback • Built-in Wi-Fi for Web interactivity and firmware updates

We’ve reviewed Sony’s PlayStation 3 twice in Home Theater (March 2007 and May 2008). Since Sony has provided many updates to its software and hardware, it deserves another look. When it originally launched in November 2006, the Blu-ray format was on the ropes due to its lackluster titles and handicapped first-generation players. Even die-hard supporters were wobbly in the legs, and they pinned their hopes on the delayed game system as the format’s savior.

Their hopes were ultimately redeemed. The PS3 effectively ended the format war—even though it took Toshiba more than a year to wave the white flag. For more than three years, the PS3 has dominated the landscape as the best Blu-ray player on the planet because of its incredible speed, rock-solid stability, and constant updates.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 12, 2008 0 comments
Now this is the way to set up a system.

This month, we break new ground in Spotlight Systems. Normally, we pair off a surround speaker package with surround electronics. But that ignores the whole subject of signal sources, without which, after all, all of our systems would be dark and silent. So this time out, we’re mating an up-to-the-minute receiver, the Sony STR-DA4300ES, with an oh-so-hip Blu-ray player, the Sony BDP-S500. And no, Sony didn’t slip me a suitcase full of cash for doing this.

David Vaughn Posted: Nov 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $200 At A Glance: 802.11n Wi-Fi • VUDU HDX, Blockbuster On Demand, and Netflix streaming • Superb video processing

A Streaming Value

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since HD DVD lost the format war. Toshiba bet the farm on HD DVD, and ever since Warner Brothers and several large retailers decided to stop supporting the format, many pundits wondered how long it would take the company to release a Blu-ray player.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 13, 2014 2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good video performance
Unique ergonomics
Vertical or horizontal placement
Minus
No front-panel display
Sluggish YouTube access

THE VERDICT
Its video performance, 4K upconversion, and atypical form factor may well attract buyers, while its slight edge enhancement and mixed performance on some Internet sites may not. But it’s clear that this Toshiba is not your father’s disc player.

It’s getting harder these days for a manufacturer to build and sell a high-end Blu-ray player simply as a Blu-ray player. The market is saturated, and the latecomers, who finally realize that DVD is not high definition and a Blu-ray Disc offers the best quality video currently available to the consumer, seem content to pop for the $49.99 Blu-ray special on aisle 5.

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