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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

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

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