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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

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

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 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

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Tags: blu ray player