While they’re far from the elephant men of tech, Sony’s Blu-ray players have so far struggled to get away from the ‘fat DVD player’ look. Judging by the new entry-level S350, though, that’s all about to change.
Compared to the BDP-S300, the new model is 45 per cent smaller overall and only 22cm deep. It’s not just had skin-deep surgery either – the chassis has been strengthened and embossed, while a new fan has been fitted to reduce noise.
Pimp your profile
Although the player is only Profile 1.1 out of the box, Sony will be releasing a Profile 2.0 firmware (allowing it do things like connect to the web for film extras) update shortly after launch.
The player’s menu system features Sony’s new Xross Media Bar (XMB), which will be familiar to all you PS3 owners. It’s nice to look at and easy to navigate.
Connectivity is decent too: you get an HDMI output, a coaxial digital output, an Ethernet connection and recessed USB input. You can also decode all HD audio formats internally (apart from DTS-HD Master Audio) and output them as LPCM, or just output them as Bitstream in their native output.
But enough of the specs – picture performance is our major concern, and you’ll be glad to know that the Sony excels. With Blu-ray discs, the BDP-S350 delivers detail, crisply defined edges and smooth motion. There’s a real clarity to the image that similarly priced players can’t muster.
The Sony digs out every last ounce of detail during darker moments such as the explosive tunnel scene from Die Hard 4.0, and Cars’ three-dimensional landscapes look stunning.
For DVD playback, it’s one of the best upscaling Blu-ray players we’ve come across. Play a few chapters of Spiderman 3 and you’ll be mightily impressed by the clarity of the image and lack of noise that impresses the most.
Sonically, the Sony’s solid, controlled, punchy approach to Blu-ray soundtracks is hugely entertaining. The BDP-S350 isn’t even fazed with CD playback. Considering you’re listening to a Blu-ray player, the Sony sounds rhythmic, composed and detailed.
Granted, the Sony might not tick all the feature boxes, but if you simply want an entry-level Blu-ray player, the BDP-S350 is perfect.