Sony’s track record with Blu-ray players is terrific. At the budget end of the market its players have been all-conquering over the past couple of years.
Only Panasonic’s 2011 machines have managed to halt Sony’s total domination, and that’s only recently.
Sony’s new entry-level player looks much like the Award-winning BDP-S370 it replaces. It’s slim, lightweight (as every rival is) and easy to use.
Apart from the lack of an optical digital output, something its predecessor had, this is pretty much a complete budget player. If you want 3D and wireless capability you’ll have to pay more.
What you do get is well-sorted network capabilities. The S380 can stream video – we watched Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer – very well. Picture quality is surprisingly crisp, and provided your broadband is fast enough, there’s little to criticise.
Much the same is true of Blu-ray performance. With the vivid but flawed fantasy film The Golden Compass, we’re impressed by the Sony’s insight and its composure when dealing with complex motion.
Colour rendition is just a touch muted, but remains convincing all the same. We really like this player’s ability to combine bright whites and deep blacks without sacrificing the subtleties.
Sound quality is punchy and detailed, but not quite as weighty as the best of its rivals.
Move to the DVD of Nine and the Sony continues to impress. It’s terrific when it comes to upscaling standard-definition material, delivering relatively clean and crisp images and motion with strong but natural looking contrasts.
However, as good as this player is, it remains something of a sideways step from its rival-slaying predecessor. That said, the S380 remains a great buy.