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Sony BDP-S380 review

The BDP-S380 is another Blu-ray bargain from Sony Tested at £100

Our Verdict

Best Blu-ray player up to £120, Awards 2011. This is yet another fine Sony budget Blu-ray player, but – at last – there’s some really tough competition in the market

For

  • Terrific picture with Blu-ray and DVD
  • punchy, agile sound
  • good internet features

Against

  • Only the brilliance of new Panasonics

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best Blu-ray player up to £120, Awards 2011. This is yet another fine Sony budget Blu-ray player, but – at last – there’s some really tough competition in the market

Pros

  • + Terrific picture with Blu-ray and DVD
  • + punchy, agile sound
  • + good internet features

Cons

  • - Only the brilliance of new Panasonics

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.

Video streaming
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.

Terriific upscaler

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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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