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Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray Player review



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Just when it looked like HD DVD had the upper hand in the high-definition format war, along came Warner to pull the rug out from under its feet. Its decision to go exclusively Blu-ray from May (with Paramount rumoured to be following suit) has prompted many experts to predict that the format war could be over by the end of 2008.

HD DVD still has a price advantage thanks to Toshiba's frantic price slashing, but even that's being slowly eroded by the new batch of ‘mass market' Blu-ray players that boast more affordable prices than the first decks launched over a year ago.

One such player is the Sony BDP-S300, which is a good £400 cheaper than the company's debut deck, the BDP-S1E, making it one of the cheapest Blu-ray decks available. But Sony hasn't compromised on build quality to achieve this - the S300 is an attractive and well-made piece of kit, with a blue-tinged translucent fascia and fetching dark-grey finish elsewhere.

And taking a look at the feature list, it appears that Sony hasn't cut too many corners here either in order to reach this attractive price. The only significant omissions are Dolby True HD, DTS HD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, but otherwise the spec sheet is in pretty good shape.

The deck decodes Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital and DTS, upscales DVDs to 1080p, plays MP3 and JPEG files and even spins high-definition MPEG-4 AVC-HD footage stored on a DVD. It supports content encoded with x.v.Colour technology (Sony's name for the xvYCC standard), which extends the colour range and offers more accurate and vivid reproduction (if you've got a TV that can display it) but it's worth noting that this differs from Deep Colour.

The BDP-S300 is a Profile 1.0 player, which means it's not compatible with Bonus View (Profile 1.1) discs containing picture-in-picture features. This lack of futureproofing could make the deck outdated very quickly, and it's unlikely that it can be upgraded.

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October 20, 2008, 2:05 pm

I have had this Blu-ray player for nearly twelve months, the picture quality is great. The firmware updates have been a pain, if you own an Apple computer you'll need someone to download them off a PC, it just doesn't happen with an Apple.

The start up time is really bad, it is one of the worst players for getting going, put the kettle on or open a couple of tins...do something!

One of the issues I have had with this player is the firmware updates, even though I've registered the product with Sony, I've received no emails to tell me that an update is available, this is pretty poor and needs to be addressed by Sony.

I have also a problem with playing standard DVDs, from time to time the player will just freeze, the picture will pause and no matter what you do, you won't budge the thing, and I mean that you won't be able to turn it off on the front, I have to pull the power cord out of the back. This is a big problem, it has happened to me while watching Blu-ray discs which I have paused while cracking open more refreshment from the fridge, they just wouldn't move. I have contacted Sony but they refused to accept this as a problem or replace the deck.

Apart from the picture quality, I just wouldn't bother with this player, buy something like a Panasonic.

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