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Sony BDPS490 Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 6th 2013

Sony BDPS490 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS490

Introduction

Sony released the BDPS490 3D earlier this year, so you can be certain that it is brand Harry Spankers and bang up to date. This was a hotly anticipated product as well and is looking like being one of the most purchased 3D Blu Ray players yet. But is it a brand new thing or has it been done before? We got our reviewer out of bed and sent him out into the great unknown (well, stuck him in front of his PC) in order to find out…

THE SPECS

The Blu Ray players of today are getting smaller and smaller. For me at least, this is a positive trend. I have a crapload of movies in my apartment and I’m rapidly running out of storage space for them all, so the smaller the player, the more space it can ultimately create. This is also positive in environmental terms, as less plastic is needed (and thus less is used) in order to make the outer casing. Measuring 10 x 10 x 10 cm is very welcome indeed and, since we don’t plan on carrying our Blu Ray players around with us very often, we’ll forgive the slightly portly weight of 2.3 kg and say that it’s a neat little package indeed.

Sadly, buying a 3D Blu Ray player won’t automatically act as a one way ticket to cinema-quality images and high octane sound that makes even the most annoying of bathroom cleaner commercials seem cool. Despite what the ad campaigns say, in order to get the most out of your player, you’ll need a 3D HD TV with 1080p screen resolution and a surround sound system. You’d be surprised how many people expect great things from their Blu Ray player alone and wind up disappointed.

You’ll also get access to online content, although it doesn’t seem like its unlimited. Whilst some Blu Ray players can effectively turn your TV into a Smart TV by connecting to the Internet as readily as your computer or Tablet does, the Sony BDPS490 does not appear to be one of these. You will, however, gain access to the Internet via the use of apps like ‘Netflix’ and ‘BBC iPlayer’.

This player will also connect well to cameras and other external devices via either of two USB ports.

THE PRICE

3D is being touted as the next big thing and, although many people (myself included) are sceptics, 3D still commands a high price. It is pleasing, then, that the Sony BDPS490 can be yours for just £112 (with free postage). This is actually very good value for money and, although there are cheaper models out there, a brand new 3D Blu Ray player is still a steal at this price.

THE PERFORMANCE

The 3D looks good and the sound is very nice indeed, this is also a very versatile player, with a host of other options as well as the obvious ‘watch stuff in 3D’ one. The image isn’t quite cinema quality 3D, so don’t expect to be swatting flies away during ‘Avatar’ with quite as much gusto as you were in the theatres, however, this is some of the best 3D home cinema that I’ve seen. It also up-scales DVDs to a very high standard indeed. 

The biggest problem here is the lack of WiFi, which seems to have been cut as a cost-saving measure. As with any ‘budget’ model, there are sacrifices to be made and, as always, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So if you want a better model, you will be paying extra.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

The aggregate score for this product on Amazon is 4/5. Meaning that it is generally a good product, but could be a bit better. “MattLondon’ praised it to the hilt, despite the lack of WiFi, saying that the quality was exceptionally high and also that the set up was easy and user-friendly. User ‘Babs’ noted that the design is aesthetically pleasing and went on to say that the apps ran particularly smoothly.

Interestingly, there is no review for this product lower than 3/5, which is a definite rarity by Amazon standards and holds this product in good stead indeed. ‘Mr. Jon Foster’ did say that it was “sluggish” and then went on to complain (with some justification) about the lack of WiFi.


Our Verdict

This is a great little player. The biggest pros are the more than fair asking price and the ease of use while the single biggest con is the lack of WiFi connectivity. However, you can MacGyver a connection for yourself if you’re good at such things. Overall, I would say that this is worth a purchase, having said that, if you can wait a bit longer, better models will eventually come down in price.

Features:

7/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

9/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £92.63

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Product Reviews, Sony, Upscaling | Comments Off

Toshiba BDX1300KB Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Toshiba BDX1300KB Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Toshiba BDX1300KB

Introduction

Only released in April of this year, the Toshiba BDX1300KB is the veritable new kid on the block (and we don’t mean that it makes terrible music). This product is so new, in fact, that it has no Amazon reviews whatsoever (for those who don’t know, we use Amazon’s customer reviews in order to offer a broader picture of the products we look at). Still, undaunted by this first foray into virgin territory, we hung our reviewer upside down, covered his naked body with pedigree chum and put him in a room full of starving rottweilers until he agreed to explore it for us (the territory, not the room).

THE SPECS

Weighing in at a slight 1.8 kg, this is a smaller, lighter player. Modern Blu Ray players are tending to be smaller and more space conscious, which is great, because most of us by now have about a zillion movies on DVD or Blu Ray. This change is also better for the environment (if, like me, you’re the tree hugging type) because less plastic needs to be manufactured in order to make it.

At this conjuncture, it is worth making a disclaimer. If you already know what I am about to say, then by all means skip this bit and go on to the next part. Blu Ray quality is still dependant on the quality of your TV and sound system. There are so many people who get seduced by the funky adverts and buy a Blu Ray player expecting it to magically transform their TV and sound system into a movie theatre. You might laugh, but I see them every day as they vent their frustration and self-loathing on an unsuspecting Amazon marketplace. So, in order to really get the most from your Blu Ray player, you will need and HD TV (at 1080p resolution or above) and a decent surround sound speaker system. Thank you.

The USB ports, despite being almost completely standard on Blu Ray players these days, are nonetheless completely welcome. Using these ports you can view content from memory sticks, external hard drives and digital cameras.

The Toshiba BDX1300KB is Internet ready, but only via Ethernet cable. This poses quite a few problems for connectivity and requires that the player itself (and thus the TV) be within a cable’s reach of the HomeHub. Annoying!

THE PRICE

For £65, this is not an expensive Blu Ray player. However, there are much better players that can be purchased for £10 or £20 more, so the ‘budget’ marketing of this particular model has not been terrifically effective I’d say.

THE PERFORMANCE

The Toshiba BDX1300KB exhibits really high quality sound and images; it is also compatible with pre HDMI TV screens (though I really don’t get why – see above).

All the menu screens are filled with jargonisms instead of straightforward labels and it is so slow you could make a cuppa in the time it takes to load a disc. For a Blu Ray player that came out only two months ago, there is simply no excuse for this.

The SD card slot at the front is a nice touch, but staring at that whilst it takes so long to load a disc is just infuriating, trying to take your mind off of it in other ways is equally infuriating. Also, it really doesn’t upscale DVDs that well, which is just one more thing to ruminate on as it loads.
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AAAARGH!

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

Because there are no Amazon reviews for this product at the time of writing, I was able to unearth a couple from elsewhere on the net. In the process I noticed that the Toshiba BDX1300KB seems to have really slipped under the radar, as the reviews I did find were considerably less than plentiful.

CNET.com gave this product a decent review, but pointed out that there are much better models in this price range. Their review also pointed out that the loading times were a total pain in the ass (though they didn’t word it quite like that!)

What Hi Fi?’s official site were considerably more generous, bestowing a 4/5 score and praising the Toshiba BDX1300KB on its ease of use and low price. The review criticised the player’s relative lack of features, however.


Our Verdict

This will do a decent job if you buy it, by which I mean that it won’t explode in your face when you try to use it. However, in 2012 we deserve better, even from a ‘budget’ model. Bland, pedestrian design, un-ambitious features and a loading time that would make the Dalai Lama antsy are all issues that simply need to be dealt with. There are better models out there, some of which are even a bit cheaper.

Features:

4/10

Performance:

6/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

6/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £58.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Product Reviews, Toshiba | Comments Off

Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS185B

Introduction

The Sony BDPS185B Blu Ray player is still less than a year old (at the time of writing). Despite this, it has had a pretty successful first year, all things considered. In fact, it has been so successful that Sony have knocked about 40 quid off of the asking price. But is this generous decision a bargain or a sly bribe? As always, our intrepid reviewer gets the answers you need…

THE SPECS

Well now, what have we here? This sleek, sexy player weighs in at a slender 1.8 kg, which makes it as cute as it is practical (Wait…Did I just hit on a Blu Ray player? Wow. That’s a new low for sure). Its other dimensions are just as alluring (I uh, mean, sensible) with a perfect 10 all round (no, I’m not still being silly…The products dimensions really are 10 x 10 x 10 cm) making this product space conscious and just that little bit more environmentally sound. The Sony BDPS185B is 30% smaller than the average Blu Ray player (there’s one for ya – trivia fans!).

Before we go any further, I ought to point out that if you’re looking for a Blu Ray in order to boost the quality of your picture and sound, you will still need a 1080p HD TV and a surround sound speaker system. Without these items, your Blu Ray player won’t look or sound any better than your DVD player and you’ll be wasting your money. Keep that in mind, because you won’t believe how many people buy a Blu Ray Player and then scrawl frustrated, vitriolic diatribes all over otherwise trustworthy review sites, bashing the players as “horrible” and “a waste of money” when this really isn’t the case. Just a thought. Moving on…

The good news also is that this player is Internet enabled, meaning that you’ll have access to the Internet via streamed content and downloadable apps such as the ‘BBC iPlayer’ or ‘Youtube’. From the looks of things, you don’t get complete, unfettered Internet access, which is something of a shame, as I tend to consider full Internet access a high selling point. There is no WiFi option either, which is a further kick in the pants.

THE PRICE

Designed as a ‘budget’ model, the Sony BDPS185B debuted at a very reasonable £109. Since then it has dropped down to around £70, but the Amazon marketplace can provide it cheaper still at just under £50, which is more than fair.

THE PERFORMANCE

This is not the best Blu Ray player ever created in terms of performance, but it was good enough to garner the coveted ‘5 star’ review in October 2011’s edition of ‘What Hi Fi?’ I believe that this is mainly due to the affordable price and smaller dimensions, which combine to form a product that is at once practical, cost effective and aesthetically pleasing.

By connecting you to the Sony Entertainment Network, you’ll get access to the BRAVIA Internet video service, which streams content from a large and diverse number of external sources. You’ll also be able to use a vast array of apps at no extra charge, these apps will offer you extra viewing options, although there are some that can even notify you when a house you like comes on the property market!

The image quality is excellent, as is the sound. It is also compatible with almost any disc you opt to play on it. Though this may seem arbitrary, some Blu Ray players are known to be rather fussy when it comes to formats such as DVD-R. The USB playback is generally pretty good and your Sony BDPS185B will have no problem hooking up to cameras or hard drives and accessing their content for you.

WHAT THE OTHER USERS SAY

Amazon user ‘Null Unit’ (there’s an odd name) praises the Sony BDPS185B as being “fantastic value for money” while ‘Alan’ praises the player as “full of features” yet goes on to lament the lack of WiFi. The user posting as ‘Birksee’ gave this player a scathing review, saying that it would not connect to the Internet no matter what (s)he tried. Net connectivity can be tricky and, judging by the review, this person tried very hard and for a long time with no results. Perhaps the unit in question was defective?


Our Verdict

If you’re on a tight budget, this little player could be the choice for you. However, if you have an extra £20 handy I would recommend getting a better model (especially a WiFi enabled one) that has recently come down in price. Blu Ray is no longer that expensive and, as a result, there are better options than simply ‘budget’ models. Having said that, this is still one Blu Ray player that won’t steer you wrong. 

Features:

7/10

Performance:

7/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

9/10

Was: £79.99
Now: £59.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Product Reviews, Sony, Upscaling | Comments Off

Samsung BD E5500 Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Samsung BD E5500 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Samsung BD E5500

Introduction

Here at the office, we’re big fans of the movie ‘RED’ (starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and a disconcertingly fanciable Helen Mirren). Why? Well, to borrow from Barry (of ‘High Fidelity’ fame), its funny, its violent and the soundtrack kicks ass. The problem? Our copy, (given to us by a mate) is an AVI file. Whatever will we do? Introducing the Blu Ray player that can play ANYTHING. But is it magic, or simply a trick of the light? We oiled up our expert and dunked him in a room full of Bi-curious bodybuilders until he…Well, he’s still in there, come to think of it…

THE SPECS

It weighs a respectable 2.3 kg and its dimensions are a perfect 10 (as in cm) all around. It looks like a prop from a science fiction movie about the Blu Ray players and it handles like a dream. This is the Samsung BD-E5500 3D Blu-ray player and nobody is going to tell it otherwise.

WARNING – Before we continue, a disclaimer…There is a long, sad history of people buying Blu Ray players and then complaining that the quality isn’t up to much, or is only marginally better than their DVD player. Yes, I know these people are hopelessly misguided, but there are a lot of them, so just be aware that you will only get optimum performance from your Blu Ray player by connecting it to a pukka sound system and an HD TV with 1080p resolution.

The BD-E5500 is an Internet ready, WiFi enabled player that connects so quickly and so willingly that it even has time for a bit of karaoke (no joke, the BD-E5500 has a karaoke function). It will play anything; streamed content, web extras, DVD-Rs, every file extension known to man, it’ll even kick a ball about in the back garden with the kids if you’re a bit tired. OK, so maybe you can throw it a curve ball and find something it won’t play. We gave up after a while…

THE PRICE

At nearly £80, this one comes dangerously close to pricing itself out of the market (for our value-centric reviews policy anyway), but with some on the Amazon marketplace available at just over £50, you’re looking at a serious bargain.

THE PERFORMANCE

Neither the fastest, nor the quietest Blu Ray player we’ve seen, this isn’t debilitating in either area. The picture quality is great (as is the sound) and the up scaling of DVDs is generally very good.

The sheer amount of format options is truly a thing to behold and we found that it could play almost anything we wanted on it. The karaoke game is a fun bonus feature too, especially as it will record and save the evidence of your mates drunkenly warbling ‘you’ll never walk alone’ for your personal enjoyment/blackmail purposes the next day. The game also rates your singing, based on what notes you hit and which ones elude you completely and then renders an impartial decision based on whichever one it deems to be the best. As extra features go, this is impressive.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

This product doesn’t have as comprehensive a set of reviews as some of the others we’ve looked at this month. This is due to the fact that the Samsung BD-E5500 is a relatively new product. Still, looking at the Amazon reviews, they are fairly good, but also somewhat mixed.

The user ‘Greg R. Pettit’ from London gave a very positive 5/5 review; he went on to say that he also has a Samsung TV and that the two worked nicely together. He warns, however, that the mains cable is only 6m long, which begs the question: how big is his arseing living room?

Fellow UK user ‘Jubes’ also offered a perfect score, praising the Samsung BD-E5500 for the sheer amount of formats and files it is able to play. My personal favourite quote of his was as follows; “this device plays pretty much any file format around and it also does 3D Blue Ray. Boom!!!” Any product that warrants onomatopoeia like ‘Boom’ (followed by three exclamation marks no less) is a definite winner.

 ‘Mike K’ from Eastbourne only gave a 3/5 review and actually managed to find a format that this device won’t play. Apparently, he bought this product in order to play avchd discs and they didn’t work at all, so that’s worth noting (right after you find out what the heck an avchd disc is…).


Our Verdict

This is one of the most versatile Blu Ray players out today. It is up to date, fun and works really well in almost any format. We recommend the BD-E5500 for its versatility above all else. The price is still a little steep, though…

Features:

8/10

Performance:

9/10

Design:

9/10

Value:

8/10

Was: £89.99
Now: £74.32

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Product Reviews, Samsung | Comments Off

Panasonic DMP BD75EB K Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

Panasonic DMP BD75EB K Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Panasonic DMP BD75EB K

Introduction

Anything that has the words ‘ultra fast’ in the title had better be quick. This thing had better run like The Flash with diarrhoea or else we’re not interested. So, does it fly over the finish line or merely stop in its tracks? We hung our reviewer upside down from a nearby pylon until he agreed to find out for us…

THE SPECS

Around the office, we just love a perfect 10. No, we’re not being stereotypical males, we mean a Blu Ray player that measures 10 x 10 x 10 cm. The Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is compact and storage friendly. Smaller products are also that much more environmentally friendly (in terms of creation and disposal) and we’re proud to say that we care about such things. Although the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K weighs 2.3 kg (somewhat heavy by Blu Ray standards) it is still petite enough to look sleek and modern as it fits snugly and economically under your TV.

Now, statistically speaking, some of you reading this are thinking that you can buy a Blu Ray player and that it will not only play these new Blu Ray discs you’ve been hearing so much about, but also upscale your DVD collection to HD quality. Of course, this is entirely true, but what you may not have considered is that this plan won’t work without a decent sound setup and an HD TV with 1080p resolution. Without an up to date TV and speaker set, any quality playback is rendered useless. Please consider this before upgrading to Blu Ray.

The Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is Internet ready (connecting to PC via DNLA). This enables you to enjoy streamed content, apps and view digital media. It also has USB connectivity, so that memory sticks, cameras and external hard drives are all well supported.

THE PRICE

At just over £60, the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is a steal. Given that it costs about the same as ‘Old Kent Road’, yet still features Internet connectivity, up to date playback options and a rapid ‘booting up’ time, this one certainly looks like it offers Good value.

THE PERFORMANCE

Well, I don’t know how to say that this player doesn’t quite live up to its boast, without making Panasonic sound like a bunch of liars. The truth is that this is a fast booting Blu Ray, in fact, much faster than almost anything else in its range. However, that doesn’t make it ‘ultra fast’. If you’re going to use the word ‘ultra’ I want the thing to move so fast it becomes a fire risk, and the DMP-BD75EB-K just doesn’t go that fast.

Despite this minor niggle, the player works very well. The playback is good and the DVD upscaling is exceptional.

There are problems, however. Firstly, any media played from a hard drive or memory stick will only play in a 4:3 aspect ratio and seemingly cannot be changed to any better resolution. Secondly, this machine really likes to freeze up on you. Its not a common occurrence, but even every once in a while is a pain, add to that the clunking noise that you occasionally hear during playback and you have some very disappointing observations.

On the plus side, this thing is easier to use than a hammer, and I mean that.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

Unsurprisingly, the Panasonic DMP-BD75EB-K is a polarizing product. Reviews range from raving about the price and ease of use to griping about the constant freezing and both sides make very valid points.

Amazon user ‘A.E. Healey’ praised the DMP-BD75EB-K as “an excellent purchase”. ‘D.Walsh’ from Lancashire agreed, praising the fast start up time and great picture quality. A user with the very edgy sounding name ‘Filthy Raider’ (who hails from the decidedly un-edgy location of Dorset) praised the strong laser and called the DMP-BD75EB-K “well worth the money”.

Critical reviews frequently cited the player’s propensity to freeze mid play and then require a complete mains deactivation in order to start up again. Among the users who mentioned this were, ‘Old Technophile’ (creepy name) and ‘Fouldsy’. Elsewhere, ‘Davo’ suggested that it was far too loud and a user called ‘jmg’ said that the player simply was not able to connect to his/her Windows home server, which would be a serious problem indeed.


Our Verdict

This is a good player at heart, but it’s blighted by far too many problems to be worthwhile. One or two are an annoyance, but any more than that and you’re looking at a fully-fledged pain in the A. For the price, we can overlook some of these issues, but not all of them. This is a fast booting, ‘budget’ level Blu Ray player with good connectivity options and solid playback. It is, sadly, nothing more than that.

Features:

8/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

7/10

Value:

7/10

Was: £64.99
Now: £59.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in HD, Internet, Multi Region, Panasonic, Product Reviews, Upscaling | Comments Off

LG BD650 Blu Ray Player Review

Feb. 5th 2013

LG BD650 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the LG BD650

Introduction

Clearly some very worthy soul (albeit a globally short sighted one) knelt against the bed one night and prayed to the heavens for a Blu Ray player that cost £57 with free delivery. It seems that this selfish and morally dubious prayer was answered, because the LG BD650 2D Blu-ray player is just that. But is it a gift from above or some sort of infernal jest? We put a rusty old bear trap outside our reviewer’s office, then knocked on the door and ran like hell. Somehow he remained conscious long enough to let us know which it was…

THE SPECS

The LG BD650 is small and compact, weighing in at a standard (maybe slightly chunky) 2.3 kg. It has a quiet, innocuous presence under any TV and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to itself. The design is perfunctory, not flashy in any way but still manages to look modern and streamlined.

Blu Ray offers high quality picture and sound, around six times higher than the average DVD, but it is worthless without an HD TV (1080p screen resolution) and up to date speaker system. For those of you considering a Blu Ray player for an older TV, you’re wasting your time, it will connect, but with no discernible increase in quality.

This is a standard, ‘vanilla’ Blu Ray player. It won’t do 3D, it won’t connect to the Internet in any way (so no apps, downloads or streaming) and it has no extras worth writing about. It does, however, have two USB ports that will play media from external hard drives, memory sticks and cameras, which is a nice addition, but pretty standard nonetheless.

THE PRICE

Less than £60 (and some even list it as low as £40) for a Blu Ray player is a bargain, (even if it’s not top of the range) and the free delivery is a real pound saver. Because it only costs £57, we won’t judge this model too harshly. The LG BD650 is an entry-level Blu Ray, nothing more, so let’s judge it on its merits, rather than its drawbacks.

THE PERFORMANCE

The first thing you’ll notice is that the LG BD650 boots up fast, really fast. This is a wonderful surprise, as most budget models take an absolute age just to recognize that there’s a disc in there somewhere. It also doesn’t make much noise during operation, there’s the odd ‘clunk!’ (Something you can expect from even the most expensive models), but other than that, its calmer than a pig in a Synagogue. Of course, there are better players, but hey, this one only cost you £50.

The sound and picture playback is nice and the upscaling is generally good as well. Annoyingly it doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, which is maybe one budget cut too many.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

‘M.Tidd’ on Amazon gave this player a glittering 5/5 review, one that is very worth reading in its entirety if you do want to buy this player. (S)he posits that many of the 3/5 (and lower) reviews are mainly concerned with the lack of Internet connectivity or 3D playback, which is actually an accurate assessment of quite a few of them. (S)he then goes on to say that as a budget Blu Ray, this is a really impressive product.

‘M. Kearney’ from Northern Ireland praises the generally silent running and fast boot up in a thoughtful and considered 4/5 review.

‘Nigel Mc’ offered a detailed 5/5 review, again commenting upon the quiet, smooth running of this player. He also said that it was “a breeze” to set up and use. ‘HarshLee’ was not so harsh when (s)he gave the BD650 a perfect 5/5 score, making a point of saying that it easily played all USB media (s)he could find.

On the negative side, user ‘Chris’ (no, not me!) stated that he bought one for his mother, only to find it freezing up completely at regular intervals. When he bought a replacement, the exact same thing happened. ‘Andy B’ said that the sound cuts out on his player for 5-second intervals; he replaced it only to find the exact same problem occurring. Reading between the lines, I would suggest that the HDMI connection in the LG BD650 is extremely sensitive (much more than most other devices) and this could be the reason for these faults.


Our Verdict

This is a damn good player for the price. It has its flaws (possibly a very over sensitive HDMI port), but they are rather minor when you consider the combination of bargain price, silent running, quality playback and speedy start up time. This is an excellent budget model Blu Ray player and a great choice if all you want to do is plug it in and watch HD movies in peace.

Features:

7/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

7/10

Value:

8/10

Was: £79.99
Now: £69.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, LG, Multi Region, Product Reviews | Comments Off

Sony BDPS480B Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 28th 2012

Sony BDPS480B Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony BDPS480B

Introduction

Gaining the coveted 5 stars when reviewed in the June 2011 issue of ‘What Hi Fi?’ this Blu Ray player has been specifically designed to handle the Internet, 3D and DVD all with the greatest of ease. It can also cut through bone, just like butter, (but only if you’re watching ‘Machete’ on it).  But is it indispensable or merely expendable? We dispatched our reviewer to find out.

THE SPECS

Today’s Blu Ray players are getting smaller and smaller, which is useful for space reasons and better from both a consumer standpoint (there’s less to pay for) and an environmental one. This is only an uncomfortable irony if you happen to be watching ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ on Blu Ray.  Joking aside, the BDPS480B is pretty small, measuring 19.9 x 43 x 3.6 cm and weighing in at an anorexic 1.7 kg. In today’s world, it pays to be space conscious when it comes to home entertainment, as more content is available, at a lower price, than at any other time in history.

Because it is a Blu Ray player first and foremost, your Sony BDPS480B will enable superior picture and sound quality, bringing you closer than ever to home cinema. However, I should point out that this will only achieve full potential if hooked up to a decent surround sound system and a 1080p HD TV.

This model will connect to the Internet, allowing you to surf the net on your TV the same way you would with your computer and it’s WiFi connection interfaces easily and efficiently with your home broadband.

The Sony BDPS480B also comes equipped with two USB ports, which are great for connecting memory sticks or portable hard drives in order to watch downloaded or user-generated content. They can also connect your Blu Ray player to digital cameras in order to watch your home movies, or show friends your holiday snaps.

And yes, you can use your mobile phone as a remote (Apple and Android only).

THE PRICE

Upon its release at the beginning of last year, this player cost £330, which is, frankly, a bit steep. However, right now you can buy it for £90 (not including postage), which is actually a pretty good deal. Amazon’s marketplace also has it available for as low as £70, which is even better.

THE PERFORMANCE

I’m pretty sceptical when it comes to 3D, so I’m not sold by the manufacturer’s boast that it represents “the new generation of home entertainment”. Luckily, you don’t need to watch everything in 3D, so this is still a worthwhile product for all you 3D doubters out there.

You can access any number of apps, which are perfect for streaming Internet content and do so very well. This means that you can catch up on last night’s ‘Mock The Week’ with the iPlayer app, but still enjoy new episodes of ‘Jake & Amir’ via the YouTube app.

The Sony BDPS480B boosts the quality of DVDs to a very high standard indeed, which means that you won’t need to go about replacing your entire film collection with Blu Ray discs (which, lets face it, if you can afford to do that in this recession, you must be golfing with the Prime Minister this weekend).

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

The Amazon reviews for this particular model are really very good. UK-based user ‘Steve’ says that he (I’m assuming he is a ‘he’) bought this to take the stress off of his overworked PS3. He goes on to say that the overall performance is better. Another fellow Brit says that the WiFi is actually only accessible by the purchase of an optional dongle, I have to say that I didn’t notice this during the review and it is not clearly marked on most websites, so I’m grateful to him for pointing it out.

‘Dan 46’ had a different story, however. When (s)he connected to a slightly older (yet still HD) TV, (s)he discovered that the resolution reverts to that of regular DVD, effectively wasting the money that was spent on it. It is worth noting that this is a common complaint among first time Blu Ray buyers and one that is worth your consideration.

Other reviews centre on the lack of connection cables included, which, when you consider also the absent dongle, is actually quite disappointing.

Our Verdict

This is a good player. At under £100 it is reliable and high tech. This is one that certainly won’t steer you wrong. If, however, you aren’t all that thrilled about 3D, you can knock £20 (or even £30) off the asking price by buying a 2D version, which is a viable option that could save you money. Overall, the asking price is fair and the performance is very nice indeed.

Features:

10/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

9/10

Value:

8/10

Was: £129.99
Now: £110.00

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in 3D, Dolby Digital, Internet, Sony, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

Sony Playstation 3 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 24th 2012

Sony Playstation 3 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony Playstation 3

Introduction

Over the last few weeks, we’ve sent our intrepid reviewer out into the darkest corners of the office in order to review pretty much every Blu Ray player known to man. This time we thought we’d throw him a curve ball (actually, it was a cricket ball and the poor sod suffered a concussion – sorry mate!) So we got him to have a look at the PS3. Is the PS3 as good a Blu Ray player as it is a games console? Or is that all a steaming pile of Rogue Warrior? We injected our reviewer with deadly flesh eating nanites and gave him 24 hours to review the PS3’s Blu Ray drive in exchange for a cure…

THE SPECS

For a Blu Ray player, the PS3 is big and cumbersome, though the slimline edition is better. However, when you consider that the PS3 is also your games console, it is actually quite a handy space saver. PS3 is a great option to play with your mates when you can’t agree on what to watch (or even a good way to settle the dispute) and instantly doubles your entertainment options.

For my money, the PS3 is the world’s best games console, so spending the extra dosh is merited in at least one sense. However, if you aren’t a gamer (and have no interest in becoming one) then I don’t need to tell you to save yourself well over £100 and look elsewhere. The quality of the Internet on the PS3 isn’t tremendous (remember that the PS3 is, first and foremost, a games console). You also won’t be able to access some of the apps, extras and other stuff that comes bundled with a Blu Ray player, although most of your favourites (Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer) should be present and accounted for.

Also – Remember that just like any other Blu Ray player, the PS3 works best with a 1080p HD TV and surround sound, although you can hook it up to lesser televisions. If you’re entertainment system doesn’t meet these requirements, there is actually very little reason to recommend Blu Ray to you at all. Blu ray will work on lower tech, but there really won’t be much point. If it sounds silly, just bear in mind that a lot of people have made this mistake and wasted large sums of money in the pursuit of higher quality visuals.

THE PRICE

Although the PS3 has dropped in price considerably over the past few years, it is still a lot more expensive than the majority of today’s Blu Ray players (though you do get more for your money). Presently, Amazon is offering a slimline PS3 for £189.00 with free shippingand handling.

THE PERFORMANCE

As a games console, the PS3 is second to none, but as a Blu Ray player it does leave some things to be desired. The quality of the images/sound is superb and you’re subject to almost none of the playback problems that Blu Ray users frequently describe (it loads quickly and noiselessly). However, navigating the menus with a control pad is a supreme pain in the ass and sifting through the PS3’s many pages of options in order to find the disc (labelled, invariably, as BD-ROM) is annoying if you don’t instinctively know where to go.

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

A review on the ‘PC World’ site said much the same, despite noting that there is a PS3 Blu Ray remote control on the market to make menu navigation easier. The reviewer specifically mentioned what a pain it was to work out which buttons were used to pause, rewind and so on (there’s nothing in the instruction book).

At the end, however, the review stated, “The PlayStation 3 can complement your home theatre, but it falls short of being a full-blown home theatre device unto itself. That said, in my hands-on tests, the PlayStation 3 proved a reasonably agile Blu-Ray Disc movie player, despite its rough navigational edges”. I couldn’t have said it better myself (which is the main reason I copy/pasted it here).

Our Verdict

If you want a Blu Ray player, but are looking for a cheap alternative on the sly, look elsewhere. Kudos to you for thinking ‘outside the box’ as it were, but it didn’t work out this time.

If, however, you’re going to get a PS3 for the games and also want to use it as a Blu Ray player, then it will probably work out fine. The control setup will take some getting used to, but after a week or so I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. If you’re on a limited budget and you can’t choose between games and movies, then the PS3 is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Features:

9/10

Performance:

8/10

Design:

10/10

Value:

6/10

Was: £199.99
Now: £159.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in 3D, HD, Internet, Multi Region, Sony, Upscaling, Wireless | Comments Off

Toshiba BDX1250 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 22nd 2012

Toshiba BDX1250 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Toshiba BDX1250

Introduction

I spy with my BD eye (OK, I’m sorry – that was bad) a budget Blu Ray player that is now even cheaper than before! How about that? But is the Toshiba BDX1250 value for money or is it just very cheap? We dressed our reviewer in a fish paste bikini and dunked him in the shark tank at Seaworld until he agreed to find out for us…

THE SPECS

Unlike some of the more corpulent Blu Ray players on the market these days, the Toshiba BDX1250 only weighs 1.8 kg. Space saving is important these days because while property prices have generally gone up, DVD and Blu Ray prices have gone down and are still dropping (especially if you have Amazon or live near a CEX). These days, we can afford to buy the complete ‘Count Duckula’ on DVD for nostalgia’s sake, but we still have to live in a flat the size of a shoebox.

In a world like that; size matters…The smaller the player, the more errant discs you can stash behind it.

Blu Ray offers roughly 6 times the quality of DVD, but it is worth noting that a Blu Ray player really isn’t worth much to you unless you have an HD TV (with 1080p resolution at least) and a quality sound system. For all the marvellous quality of image and sound promised on the adverts, the reality will be virtually indistinguishable from DVD unless you have the proper home entertainment setup.

The Toshiba BDX1250 really does put a lot of stock in BD Live, a Blu Ray exclusive function that enables you to access web-only special features and additional extras on your TV. BD Live is actually a lot of fun, but the amount that Toshiba is harping on about it does draw attention to the fact that BD Live is the only way you’ll be getting the BDX1250 online. There’s no WiFi (meaning you’ll need to drag a long-ass Ethernet cable from one room to the other) and only a very limited net connection, which does not allow for apps, games, or anything else.

THE PRICE

It is here that the Toshiba BDX1250 really starts to show off. This is not the best Blu Ray player in the world (by some margin, it must be said) it is, however, one of the cheapest. Available at just over £60, the Toshiba BDX1250 comes into head-on collision with other, far superior, players available at the same price. However, the Amazon marketplace has this player available for as low as £40, which is a very good offer indeed.

THE PERFORMANCE

For a cheaper model, I’m delighted to say that the Toshiba BDX1250 is really quick to load. It starts up much faster than even a lot of the more expensive models. The picture and sound quality are also stunning.

Like a lot of Blu Ray players, the BDX1250 does make an annoying whine as it loads up, but this stops as you play the movie. All in all, I’d say that this is a nifty little number indeed (Well, I would say that if it didn’t make me sound like a circa 1970’s pervert).

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

With an aggregate Amazon score of 4.5/5, this is clearly a very well liked machine. The world loves a bargain, but only if it offers almost as much as the expensive products and does so at a much cheaper price. The Amazon marketplace is full of glowing reviews for this player, some of which I will now collate.

‘Jake24’ from Yeovil gave the player a glowing 4/5 review. He praised the fast loading times, excellent quality and, of course, the low price. ‘R.Napier’ from Wiltshire was also a satisfied customer, writing that although (s)he hadn’t used the Internet functions, the Blu Ray playback was “flawless”. The review ended with R stating that the Toshiba BDX1250 was “the best value Blu Ray player out there”.

‘David Glasgow’ also offered a perfect score, stating that the player was easy to use for the young, old and technophobe alike, which is always good to hear. We agree, Dave!

‘Mr. James C. Kellam’ (a very formal user name) from Scotland was critical, though, giving a (somewhat stingy, I felt) 1/5 review despite conceding that the playback was quick, quiet and high quality. He complained that the BDX1250 won’t play DVD-Rs, which is a real negative point. He also said that the product comes WITHOUT an HDMI cable and that the power lead is much too short. These are all very valid arguments.

Our Verdict

At £60, there are better Blu Ray players, but at £40 – this might just be the right purchase for you. It is simple, straightforward and easy to use, but severely lacks visual, audio and Internet options.

Features:

6/10

Performance:

7/10

Design:

7/10

Value:

9/10

Was: £99.99
Now: £66.37

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in HD, Internet, Toshiba, Wireless | Comments Off

Sony S380 Blu Ray Player Review

Dec. 15th 2012

Sony S380 Blu Ray Player Review

Review: We go hands on with the Sony S380

Introduction

The Sony S380 Blu Ray Player has been on the market since January of last year, so it’s still pretty recent. Buying a product just as it drops down in price (but before it becomes obsolete) is an art form unto itself. You have to time it just right, so, if you bought this shiny black box of marvels, would you be on the winning team or would you just be wasting your time? Let’s find out.

THE SPECS

At a lightweight, almost dainty 1.6 kg, the S380 won’t cripple your entertainment unit. In fact, it is one of the smaller player’s we’ve encountered. It’ll also take up less space than an average player, as officially, the dimensions are 19.9 x 43 x 3.6 cm, which it pretty tiny. People like smaller technology these days, as even the most frugal movie fan must be space conscious, so it is very nice to see that preference being accounted for.

Like all Blu Ray players, the Sony S380 comes equipped with high-resolution picture and sound, although it is worth noting that a 1080P HD TV and a Surround Sound Stereo system will be required to truly make the most of this.

The S380 is Wireless LAN enabled, meaning that it will connect readily and easily with your HomeHub (or whatever Internet connection method you use). Due to this, the S380 grants access to the Internet, including online services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Lovefilm. When using the Internet, you’ll even get a bonus IP noise reduction function.

The S380 is equipped with two USB slots, meaning that this player can connect with memory devices (great if you want to watch downloaded content) or, depending on the product, other external devices as well (this model is especially camera-friendly).

THE PRICE

The Sony S380 Blu Ray player can be yours for just £80 (even less on Amazon’s ‘Used & New’) section.

THE PERFORMANCE

The biggest complaint regarding Blu Ray players is their booting up time. As a rule, these things can take ages to load. Not being especially technically minded myself, I’m not sure why this is (answers on a postcard, all you techies out there!), but I’m told it has something to do with the amount of memory stored on the disc. In any case, loading times will not be a problem if you have an S380, which boasts ‘Super Fast Operation’ and delivers. In spades.

With great visuals and sound, as well as the ability to boost the quality of your DVDs to almost HD level, this Blu Ray player is (for the moment at least) bang up to date.

When it comes to extra features, the options are seemingly limitless, you get music and film powered by the (rather tragically named) ‘Qriocity’ system, which gives you access to the hottest new flicks, tunes and shows, at the touch of a button.

As an extra feature, you can even use your iPhone, iPod or Android device as a remote control. How cool is that?

WHAT OTHER USERS SAY

Amazon users who praised this model, did so for its speed and high picture quality. They also praised the extremely simple setup and the quality of Youtube clips. User ‘Edd209’ posted that (s)he felt it was “the best Blue-ray player on the market for the price” and many other users expressed similar sentiment.

Critical reviews talk about the player being incorrectly labelled on some sites as being ‘Region Free’ when this is in fact not the case. They also complained that certain types of AVI files and home-burned DVDs were unplayable on this device. The main complaint seems to concern the streaming of the online content, which is not always high quality. This, however, has less to do with the player than it does with the quality of the original video upload (many of which are actually quite low resolution files) and the size of the television they’re viewed on. Spreading online content over a 1080p can distort the image significantly.

Generally, however, the reviews are positive, placing special emphasis on good value for money and high quality images/sound. A couple of users mentioned that they found a high-pitched squeal emitting from the player, but that this only lasted for thirty seconds or so before the movie played and did not interfere with their entertainment.

Our Verdict

Despite being on the market for over a year, this product is still pretty close to the top of the range. It is available at an astonishingly low price and provides high performance as well as user friendliness and efficiency, the complete package. I don’t see this getting replaced for at least a couple of years yet, so buy away to your heart’s content!

Features:

8/10

Performance:

9/10

Design:

8/10

Value:

7/10

Was: £109.99
Now: £99.99

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk.

Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days

Posted by Player Bluray | in Dolby Digital, HD, Internet, Sony, Wireless | Comments Off

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Tags: blu ray player