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Hoo-Ray for Blu-Ray...
Member Name: Drewster_Rooster
Advantages: Features, price, Appearance
Earlier this year I purchased a brand new large screen TV for our living room at home and managed to get a good deal for a feature packed HD LCD television. At the time we couldn't actually benefit from 'High Definition' broadcasts on the television or via disc as we had neither Sky installed or a Blu Ray player, all this changed in June though when we finally joined the BR ranks and bought the subject of the review; the Sony BDP-S370 Blu Ray Player.
As I have explained on previous reviews I am not the most technically minded of people so this review will focus more on my experience of using this device and what features you are likely to find if you buy this yourself. In the most simple of terms a Blu Ray player is a higher resolution DVD player but rather than just playing DVDs (which this does) it also allows you to play Blu-Ray discs which when viewed on a High Definition television gives greater depth of colour to films, a richer sound quality and more of an overall 'cinematic experience' for the viewer. For me a Blu Ray player can be described as a glorified DVD player with extras which I hope to cover in this review.
==How it looks and Connecting to a TV==
First things first then and the player looks exactly the same as any generic DVD player as illustrated in the picture provided, it has a lovely matt black finish to the design and when switched you are greeted to a cheeky "Hello" illustrated in blue azure lettering on the display. The weight of the player is around 2 kilograms and measures 43cm in width, 21cm in depth and only 4cm in height so is relatively long and compact and fits in perfectly well with other technological devices that you may have in your home.
The player requires connecting to your television with a HDMI cable (which does not come supplied although Amazon did include one as part of a promotion they were running), these can be easily found online or in the likes of Asda or Tesco though and are widely available and can be found from anything from a few pounds up to around £10.00 depending on what you buy. Once connected and switched on the Blu Ray player springs into life within only 3 seconds and you are met with an onscreen menu where there are different options to chose from. This is where the differences between a DVD player and Blu-Ray come in as on the BDP-S370 there are a host of extras which lift this from being a regular disc player.
==What you can expect from this Blu-Ray player==
You can of course simply use this as Blu-Ray/DVD player and the device is perfectly capable of playing a number of media formats including CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, BD-ROM etc as well as shop bought/rented films and it is simply a case of inserting your disc into the tray, sitting back and enjoying the action that plays out in front of you. If you are looking for more though the player can be hooked up to the Internet where you can use the BRAVA Video platform to stream films and TV programmes directly from websites such as YouTube or even the BBC I-player and this is achieved via a separately bought USB WIFI dongle or linking up the player to your own wireless network from the Ethernet connection. Frankly this seems too much like hard work to me so I only use this as a straightforward player but for the price this is available for you to purchase it you do appear to get a feature packed device for a relatively small outlay.
If, like me, you will only ever use this to play your DVDs and Blu-Rays then you can expect to receive a responsive, attractive looking machine which provides true HD picture quality. DVDs are upscaled to near High Definition but the magic comes alive when you watch a Blu-Ray film on this. The picture quality is sublime on the BDP-S370 and that is perhaps the most important thing and probably the reason why you would want to buy a Blu-Ray player in the first place. Images are clear and sharp and ultra fine detailing is shown; Blu-Ray discs can hold a lot of data and you are able to fully explore various features that come included on a film simply by using the remote control to navigate around the different options and menus that you are given. The remote itself is of a nice weight which feels well made and comfortable when held in your hand and the buttons are clearly marked and follow in a logical sequence so after only a few times of using you pretty much know where everything is. Everything about this machine and its remote belies its low price ticket and for the features you get here you would be forgiven for thinking that this would cost hundreds of pounds.
Depending where you do shop there are bargains to be had with the Sony BDP-S370, some places will charge between £170 and £190.00 but on Amazon this is featured at just £99.99 and has been at this price for a couple of months now. I bought this when it first came down in price from its original cost of £149.99 and for my first visit to the world of Blu Ray players I consider this to be a superb introduction.
==A point worth mentioning==
From the research I did before buying this I understand that there have been concerns in the past with the response time and loading of films on some players and this appears to be an issue that Sony have addressed. In the blurb that I read about this machine before purchasing I noticed that they made the point about its 'super-fast' operation and make reference to the fact that the machine takes just three seconds to boot up and just two seconds for the disc tray to open. Once a disc has been inserted then Sony claim that you are not 'kept waiting around' for a film to start, in practice I have found the results of this to be variable to be honest with some films loading almost immediately whereas others have been slower. I do consider this to be dependent on the amount of information is stored on a disc as to how quick the player will load the information finding that the data-heavy discs take fractionally longer to load than discs with less content. However I have not experienced any problems with any films that I have tried to play in this with every one playing without judders or breaks in picture quality.
==Opinion and Rating==
In the short time that I have owned this machine I have certainly put it through its paces with both rented Blu-Ray discs and shop bought ones. My assumption that this was just going to be a glorified DVD player with extras is correct on some levels as it is as intuitive and as easy to use as an everyday DVD player but it is reassuring to know that there are plenty of features that I could explore if I wanted to and the "Sony" name does give me faith that I have bought a decent brand. If you are more technologically minded then there are plenty of additional features that could appeal here, the fact that this is compatible with other Sony products via the 'BRAVA Synch' function means that you can control all of your Sony devices from the one remote control and by utilising the Internet connectivity you can open up the player for online streaming. For now I am happy to use it's most basic of functions but maybe in time I will start experimenting with what it can actually do.
Even if you only ever use this to play discs and nothing else for a penny under one hundred pounds you can't really go wrong with this, you get a one year guarantee as standard with any electrical purchase on Amazon anyway so you do have the added reassurance that should something go wrong you do have a warranty. There are players available for double and treble the price of BDP-S370 which will probably offer you even more features for your money, however if you are looking for a low priced, brand named Blu-Ray player which just so happens to come equipped with a number of additional features you could do a lot worse for your money than this and for me it has been an amazing buy.
Overall then I have had no issues with this Blu-Ray player and would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for a device of this nature. For its price and features a perfect 5/5 dooyoo stars seems only fair from me along with a glowing recommendation which, from reading other reviews on various sites seems to be echoed with a near-universal collective thumbs up for it.
==Specifications at a Glance==
Further information concerning any specifications or features that I may have missed can be viewed on Sony's website here
And for convenience and the sake of a thorough review I have reproduced some details (from the Sony website) here which cover the main points:
1080p output (via HDMI)
Precision Cinema HD upscale (DVD upscaling to 1080p)
Video D/A Converter: 12bit / 148.5MHz
24p True Cinema
Progressive Scan Output
Precision Drive HD
Preset Picture Mode
8ch Linear PCM bitstream out
Dolby TrueHD decoding
Dolby TrueHD bitstream out
DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream out
Audio D/A Converter 192 kHz/ 24bit
HDMI socket: 1
Component Video Output: 1
S-Video Output: NO
Composite Video Output: 1
SCART Connector: NO
Digital Audio Output: Coaxial 1
Digital Audio Output: Optical 1
7.1ch Analogue Output: NO
Analogue Stereo Output: YES
Quick Start-up: 3 seconds
Easy Set up: YES
BRAVIA Sync: YES
PhotoTV HD: YES
Firmware update via Ethernet: YES
Local Storage for BD-Live: NO
Child Lock (Tray Lock): YES
Parental Control: YES
Thanks for reading my review, please note that this originally appeared on ciao under my username
Summary: Low cost, feature packed Blu-Ray player...