Together with Samsung units like the BD-P1400, Sony BDP-S300 is one of the cheapest Blu-Ray player available on the market, being sold by $299.99 at Best Buy. With the selection of Blu-Ray discs increasing every day, with Blu-Ray Association giving five movies for free and prices dropping a lot this holiday season, many users are wondering if time for upgrading to Blu-Ray has finally arrived, and for the average user the cheapest units are the most natural choice. Let’s see how Sony BDP-S300 looks like and its weak and strong points.
In Figure 2, you can see all the connectors available on BDP-S300. It offers HDMI, component video, S-video and composite video outputs. We wonder why someone would connect a Blu-Ray player to a TV using composite video or S-video, but the option is there (maybe for users willing to watch DVDs on CRT-based TV sets). Of course you need to use HDMI for being able to watch movies in high def format. Its HDMI connector also carries digital audio (more on this later). This unit also has a coaxial and an optical digital audio (SPDIF) outputs and a full set of analog audio outputs. Usually players have only two analog audio outputs (left and right channels) to allow you to connect the player to CRT-based TVs, but this unit from Sony offers full 5.1 analog channels. We also wonder why this unit offers this option, since all home theater receivers, even the oldest ones, has at least one coaxial digital audio input. The only thing we missed here was an Ethernet port. This feature – present on Samsung BD-P1400 and other players – is really handy for firmware upgrade, allowing you to upgrade the firmware by just connecting your player to the internet and selecting an option from its menu. We will talk more about upgrading the firmware later.
In Figure 3, you can see the cables that come with this unit: composite video and two-channel analog audio, plus the power cord. We wonder why Sony ships this unit with these cables, as they are completely useless – unless you have a CRT-based TV without an S-Video input and don’t have a home theater receiver; we don’t think someone buying a Blu-Ray player will have less that a LCD TV and a 5.1 home theater receiver. All Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players should come with one HDMI cable, especially because stores like Best Buy, Circuit City and even Wal-Mart charges a lot for HDMI cables (over USD 40), and this cable can be bought on-line at Newegg.com for less than USD 10. It seems that a lot of people research for prices on the player, but forget about researching for prices on the HDMI cable.
You can see this unit’s remote control in Figure 4. It is capable of controlling TVs from 18 other brands, like LG, Panasonic, Phillips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba.