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Sony, Marantz and Philips

Sony BDP-S360, BDP-S560

With some of the best and most popular budget Blu-ray decks under its belt - not to mention the all conquering PS3 - Sony is a formidable presence in the Blu-ray market right now. And that's sure to continue as the AV behemoth unleashes its latest pair of players, one of which is the entry-level BDP-S360, which you can currently find online for around £200.


Unlike its predecessor, the BDP-S350, which needed a firmware upgrade to make it BD Live-capable, this one is BD Live from the box. It doesn't feature Wi-Fi, 7.1-channel analogue outputs or built-in memory (movie downloads have to be stored on a USB memory drive) but given the price and the range of other features on board (including HD audio support, AVCHD playback and a six-second boot-up time) it would be churlish to complain.


However, the step-up S560 - which is available in the States but yet to be officially announced in the UK - does come with built-in Wi-Fi, which makes accessing web content immeasurably easier. Our guess is that this will be out post-IFA, but watch this space for more info.
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Marantz UD9004

Just a hunch, but we're guessing there aren't many people reading this who could afford to stump up £5,500 for a Blu-ray player. But for those who can, the UD9004 might just be up your alley. It's an ultra high-end universal player, which fuses together the company's flagship SA-7S1 SACD player with Blu-ray technology to create a mighty movie monster for which the term 'reference' doesn't quite do it justice.


It employs the Silicon Optix Realta HQV processor for all its video processing needs, last seen chugging away inside the Denon DVD-3800BD, and another sign of its high-end pedigree is the inclusion of two HDMI outputs, which separate the video and audio signals for the purest possible performance. The UD9004 launches in August so you've got until then to find a buyer for those kidneys.
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Philips BDP3000

The final entrant in our blockbuster BD Live preview is the BDP3000, a step down version of the impressive BDP7300 deck we reviewed. Like its pricier stablemate, the BDP3000 comes equipped with an Ethernet port for BD Live downloads and plays WMV files, but lacks the 5.1-channel analogue outputs and the 1GB of built-in memory.




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