Newest Review: ... all black in a dimmed room you find yourself running your finger over to find the button. Whilst the buttons are plastic and small this d... more
Blue Ray all the Way
Member Name: R8IT
Advantages: Price, picture and sound quality
Disadvantages: No DNLA, limited formats (no DivX), non illuminated buttons on the machine
Sony has updated the well reviewed S370 with the S380, some minor cosmetic changes to the front but nothing major. The S380 is a good priced player, retailing around £90-100 it has been as low as £60-70 in some sales which is a cracking price for what is a very decent blue ray player. The machine itself is an odd shape from the front it looks standard width of around 43cm and around 3.5-4cm high, the depth however is around half of older style DVD players at just 18.5cm. For those that stack something else on top of a DVD player such as games console or Sky box you shouldn't be too concerned as the Sky box sits happily on top of it. I guess they have save a lot of plastic by not giving them the full depth. Buttons are small and feel slightly cheap they also dont illuminate and with it being all black in a dimmed room you find yourself running your finger over to find the button. Whilst the buttons are plastic and small this does not impact on the function of them and they are responsive enough, but other than turning the player on and inserting a disc its highly likely the remote will get used more.
It seems the big topic for blue ray players is start up time, some people don't have 5-10 seconds spare to wait these days. I cannot see the point of complaining over the start up time its not like it's in the minutes. The S380 when first connected and within the settings gives the option either eco mode with longer start up or quicker start up but the player uses more power in fast start up mode and only shaves a few seconds from the time. I opted for the eco mode and it takes all of 15 seconds when first turned on to be ready to load a disc.
The player itself is quite simple only four buttons on the front power, eject, stop and play. The remaining functions being on the remote which is a compact size. The player has a USB socket on the front and will play XVid content from a USB stick. At the rear of the machine Audio line out sockets, HDMI, LAN, Coaxial socket, Componet video and a second USB socket.
Its worth noting at this point that the S380 doesn't come with a HDMI in the box (not sure if this is common with most players). So worth remembering to buy one. And don't be conned into paying £10+ or in some instances over £40 for a HDMI lead they have been tested and no difference in quality compared with a cheap £3 one.
*Whats it like?*
In short great, the difference in both detail of picture and sound is amazing, the first Blue ray I tried was the new Transformers film and it was definitely better viewing on Blue ray, the sound was crisp and clearer, the picture contained a huge amount more detail with sharper deeper colours and contrast. The player itself was very quiet whilst in use and no issues seen over disc jumping or pixel block issues - I guess this will only be tested when trying scratched and imperfect discs. Whilst the picture is more detailed the player keeps the cinema feel of the picture so it doesn't like a home movie, various settings for picture and sound through the player's menu system which is simple enough to navigate can accommodate personal prefernce. It will upscale standard DVD's and so no need to throw away old DVD's.
The player can be connected to the internet, it's not a wireless machine and whilst they state you can buy a wireless dongle for it, they are never any good. The best way is to connect direct to the router via a LAN cable. Once connected you can access a much wider variety of content such as video on demand, streaming films from Lovefilm, BBC iplayer, 5 on demand and several others. Again once you're used to the menu system of Sony devices its straightforward to use, its always going to be a little fiddly as you have to use the remote to enter details. It's a great function to have, and you ca then access HD content such as BBC HD if you don't have sky HD or similar already. As a general rule you need a broadband speed of around 3mbs or more, I only get 3.8mbs and have no issues whatsoever connecting to BBC iplayer and watching HD content or streaming a film from Lovefilm.
Whilst you can buy cheaper non branded players for the money the S380 is a very good blue ray player especially if purchased at sale prices. The picture quality is superb and I've had no issues with the quality of the playback or the player itself. It does lack some functions over some players such as no DNLA - the ability to stream from a PC, and other devices but then my TV has this and have no requirement to stream from the player to another TV but if you do need this then its worth looking for an alternative. But if all you need is great picture quality you would be mad not to buy a blue ray player such as this and if still on standard DVD with a full HD TV you really are missing out.
Summary: A great player at what is a midrange to budget price, outstanding picture quality