- Good value for money, great high-definition playback including 24Hz support
- Slightly long lag times with Blu-ray playback and power-up, lack of support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio codecs
The BDP-S300 is an excellent value Blu-ray player, delivering a great feature list for a much more affordable price than most advanced units.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
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The BDP-S300 is Sony's entry-level Blu-ray player. Although it lacks the advanced design and features of more advanced models, its low price point makes it a solid choice for those unwilling to make a larger investment at this time. With excellent high-definition playback, DVD upscaling, and 24Hz playback capability, the S300 definitely covers the important bases, and offers an incredibly attractive package for an upgrade to high definition.
Blu-ray playback is exceptional, and the S300 includes everything needed to experience high definition to its full potential. The 24Hz playback mode, assuming that the unit is connected to a compatible TV, plays the movie at the same frame rate as in the cinemas, giving viewers a purer, more unaltered viewing experience. The only complaint we had with Blu-ray playback was the lag times, at around 2-3 seconds for every chapter skip or fast forward, which can be quite hefty. Nevertheless, these amount to nothing more than a minor annoyance, and we can't fault the quality of the playback.
DVD upscaling is an important part of any high-definition player, as it ensures that users won't have their old collections made obsolete, and will be able to enjoy them at close to the quality of newer, high-definition titles. The S300 handles upscaling to 1080p respectably, showing a definite and visible increase in quality. We did notice some slight pixelation issues, but otherwise the upscaling is generally quite good.
Audio is probably the S300's weakest point, as it lacks the ability to decode Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD surround sound formats, the formats generally used on high-definition audio discs. You'll still be able to get the regular Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound tracks, but for users that want every bit of audio support available, a higher-end model may be a better option. Nevertheless, the unit supports 7.1 channels, and uncompressed Linear PCM audio.
The player is relatively large, especially compared to some of the slimmer DVD players; however it should still fit within the majority of home entertainment cabinets. The back panel houses a complete range of connection options, including HDMI and 5.1 analogue outputs. Unfortunately, there's also a considerable lag when switching the player on, somewhere in the region of about a minute before the disc in it actually starts playing. This is frustrating, but nothing incredibly serious.
Overall, the S300 is an excellent Blu-ray player. It doesn't include some of the advanced features that higher-end models provide, although these are generally geared towards enthusiasts. Its lag times and lack of HD audio support may irk some users, but for its price it represents excellent value for money.
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First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
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