Sony's BDP-S380 entry-level Blu-ray player has an impressively wide range of features. It's a great player for watching Blu-ray movies and it also has BRAVIA Internet Video for Web features like streaming ABC iView video on demand. It has some connectivity options missing, which makes it imperfect as an all-in-one solution, but otherwise it's everything you'd need to give a bit of life to an aging digital TV.
Sony BDP-S380: Design and features
The BDP-S380 has a flat-fronted design that fits in well with its 2011 range of BRAVIA LCD televisions. The BDP-S380 looks attractive, but we don't like how small the main buttons for playing and ejecting discs are — there's plenty of space on the front but the buttons are slightly hard to find in dim light.
The remote control has all the buttons you'll need, so the only time you'll have to visit the player is to change out Blu-ray discs. A suggestion we'd make to Sony is to include back-lighting for the buttons on the BDP-S380's remote control. It's quite a small remote control and the buttons are cramped, so finding the right one in a dim room can be an ordeal.
The BDP-S380 has all the connection options you'd expect on a modern Blu-ray player. We opted for HDMI to connect audio and video to our Pioneer KURO plasma, and Ethernet took care of our networking. There's analog video connectors for component and composite, and coaxial digital audio as well as analog audio outputs. There's no optical digital audio, so you'll need to use the coaxial or run optical digital audio from your TV if you've got a home theatre system hooked up — a small amount of extra hassle that will only apply to a small sub-set of users.
The Sony BDP-S380 has access, through its Ethernet network port or an (annoyingly) optional Wi-Fi adapter, to Sony's BRAVIA Internet Video portal and the Qriocity music service. BRAVIA Internet Video, which has playback of ABC iView, Yahoo!7's PLUS7, and SBS catch-up TV as well as a wide range of other audio and video services. We weren't able to test Qriocity extensively but the ability to stream music to your TV and entertainment system through the BDP-S380 is a useful inclusion.
Sony BDP-S380: Picture quality and performance
The Sony BDP-S380 had no problems playing the 2D content we threw at it. It's not a 3D player, so if you want to watch a 3D Blu-ray movie (on your 3D TV) you'll need to get a more expensive unit like the BDP-S480. Picture quality was perfectly acceptable — there's no video quality problems when watching Blu-ray content on a Full HD screen and streaming through BRAVIA Internet Video is generally acceptable.
The BDP-S380 also starts up quickly. We were into the Terminator: Salvation main movie within 30 seconds, and other titles were similarly speedy to get into the action. The XMB menu interface (similar to the Playstation 3's) doesn't lag and selecting BRAVIA Internet Video services only requires a few seconds of buffering on a fast Internet connection.
Sony BDP-S380: Conclusion
Sony's BDP-S380 is a well designed piece of technology. It does a perfectly acceptable job of playing Blu-ray movies and the BRAVIA Internet Video features are a great extra that broadens the amount of content easily available to viewers. We know it's only an entry-level player but we would have loved to see Wi-Fi on the BDP-S380. Sony needs to include extra add-ons in higher-end players, rather than gimping cheaper models by taking out useful features.