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Purchase of Sony BDP-S350 Blu-Ray Player

July 24, 2008

I recently described some of the features that I was looking for in Blu-Ray disc player. Last evening I noticed that Best Buy had the Sony BDP-S350 in stock and I purchased it. I had a large Best Buy gift card to dispose of and had they not had the S350 in stock, I would have purchased the Samsung BD-P1500. These players were very close in my mind. Ultimately, the Sony appeared to have fewer reports on sound dropouts and that led me to make the purchase I did.

Here is how I evaluated the features I had identified in my prior post:

  • The ability to use BD-Live now or in the future. I did not consider any players without this feature at least promised in the future, but having it now was not crucial for me. The S350 will be upgradable to BD-Live this Fall. 
  • The ability to be controlled by infrared universal remote. The S350 has this, unlike the Playstation 3. I was not willing to pay an extra $100 for a device that would make all the PS3 bluetooth functions work via IR.
  • The ability to output Dolby Digital or DTS through an optical output. The S350 has this.
  • The ability to have the player decode different sound tracks in the player itself rather than just sending the bitstream for a given sound track to my receiver. The S350 appears to have this feature, although I have not tried it. The Samsung DB-P1500 definitely has this feature and may have implemented it in a better way than in my new player. The PS3 does not have this feature in relation to its optical audio output– a significant mark against the PS3 for my purposes.
  • Price. I purchased the S350 for $400, while the PS3 would have cost over $500 once the Bluetooth/IR box was included.
  • The ability to handle all of the audio tracks once I get an HDMI capable receiver. The S350 will bitstream all of these tracks over HDMI to any receiver that can decode these tracks. 
  • No audio problems. None of these have been reported for the S350, unlike the Samsung player.
  • A relatively fast startup time after discs are inserted. All of the players I looked at had relatively fast startup times. They were close enough that this was not a factor in my decision.
  • The ability to upconvert DVDs. All of the players I considered have this functionality and the reports of differences in quality I read did not strike me as material.
  • No extra memory is needed for advanced features. The S350 and the Samsung both require plugging in a GB flash drive to meet the Profile 2.0, spec, unlike the PS3. Not ideal, but obviously not a deal breaker either. 
  • Slow motion and frame-by-frame advance. The S350 lacks these features, while the Samsung player has them. Again, not ideal, but I decided that I have used these infrequently enough that the S350’s lack of reported sound problems was more important.

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