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A great entry point into the Blu-Ray scene
Member Name: valve90210
Advantages: Good connectivity options, quick operation, great picture, great sound
Disadvantages: Remote is a bit basic but works well
After a lot of reading up on various entry level models, and having seen a lot of recommendations, I decided to plump for the Sony BDP-S370.
At the time it was on offer and I picked it up for £90, which I was pretty pleased with. Sadly my first unit was faulty and failed to display a picture but the company I got it from very swiftly replaced it and the second unit worked perfectly, just one of those thigns I guess!
Unlike my bulky old dvd player, the Sony is a really compact unit, standing only 36mm high, width is a pretty standard 430mm, and depthwise it's only 219mm giving plenty of room at the back for all the leads that will end up connected to it.
The build quality is pretty good, though could be a bit better. The uncluttered front of the player has a small lip which houses the on player control buttons, which are rather tiny and the lip does feel a little on the plasticy side of things but to be far I, like most people I'm sure, will hardly ever touch those buttons as everything is controllable from the remote.
Besides the lip with the buttons, the front houses the disc tray which slides out quicly and quietly, a small backlit display and a usb socket.
On the back of the player is, as you would expect, where you find all the connectivity options along with the power supply. Despite being an entry level player, the connectivity options are fairly comprehensive.
Stereo Audio Output
Composite video out
Component Video Out
HDMI Video & Audio Out
Optical Digital Audio Out
Coaxial Digital Audio Out
These options allow connection to pretty much any setup, the only exclusion being Scart, which to be honest is not missed really, as if you have a blu-ray player you will most likely want to connect via a means which allows for HD resolutions to be output, whic Scart does not support.
The player comes with a remote control which is, as is fairly typical these days, pretty functionary in it's design but it have controls for everything and seems to work well. I almost immediately reprogrammed my Logitech Harmony remote to control the player, so have not really used the remote that came with the player.
The first film I played on the player was Kick Ass on Blu-ray, and I ahve to say I was mightily impressed! I have the player set to output at 720p, the native resolution of my tv, and it looked amazingly sharp and clear, details and textures of fabric of the costumes were visible and looked incredibly detailed. I have to say I was really quite impressed at the difference from dvd! When it came to fast motion and rapid camera movements, there were no issues of stutter or blurring or picture artifacts, so I was very happy indeed.
I have my player connected to my TV using the HDMI lead, and my Amp via the Coaxial Digital Output. This allows me to watch films with the audio either through the TV or through the amp depending on whether I want the full on surround sound or if it's a film which will be fine in stereo. Both sound nice and detailed, clear and crisp with plenty of weight in things like explosions etc.
My amp is fairly aged now and does not support new HD audio formats so I have the box outputting to Dolby Digital which works very nicely. I'm sure the HD audio will be an improvement but until my existing (and indeed lovely sounding) Marantz amp dies on me I am not planning to upgrade because it sounds amazing as it is!!
The Lan connector on the back of the p[layer allows you to hook it up to your network to give it internet access for things like online extras with dvds and to access the various online features of the player, including Iplayer, 5on demand, Lovefilm and Youtube.
With the exception of Iplayer, I have not really used these features much but they seem to be quite good, if you have a fast enough internet connection. I have used Iplayer a few times and even with my fairly average connection it was watchable and didn't pause or stutter after the initial buffering.
The USB sockets on the back and front allow you to hook up USB sticks etc upon which you may have video files or photos which can then be viewed on the TV. I have other means of doing this so it is not a feature I have used but might be interesting to some people.
Overall I am thoroughly impressed with the player, it is fast to operate, produces very clean crisp pictures from Blu-ray and upscaled dvd and sounds terrific through my amp, I would higly recommend it!
Summary: A great entry level blu-ray player