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Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray Player Reviewed

* May 11, 2009


The BDP-S360 is the first of Sony's 2009 Blu-ray lineup to hit the market, replacing the popular BDP-S350. We have not performed a hands-on review of the BDP-S360, but here is an overview of the player's features. This entry-level model is a Profile 2.0 player that supports BonusView/picture-in-picture playback and BD-Live Web functionality, and it offers both onboard decoding and bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. It lacks the built-in 802.11n support and DLNA photo streaming that Sony will offer in the step-up BDP-S560. While most of Sony's competitors are adding some form of Internet-enabled media streaming (via Netflix or Amazon) at this price point, Sony has opted not to include a similar feature in the BDP-S360. Oddly, neither the S360 nor the S560 will offer 7.1-channel analog audio outputs; to get that feature, you have go with the significantly more expensive BDP-S5000ES model or grab last year's BDP-S550.

In terms of video connections, the BDP-S360 offers HDMI, component video, and composite video outputs. For HDMI, the output-resolution options are Auto, 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, and 1080p/24. The setup menu includes an option to enable 1080p/24 output if your TV accepts this signal type; once you enable the feature, the player will always output 1080p/24 when it is available on Blu-ray discs. For component video, the output-resolution options are 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. The BDP-S360 allows you to choose between three picture modes (standard, brighter room, and theater room) and engage three types of noise reduction.

Audio outputs include HDMI, optical and coaxial digital, and 2-channel analog. This model lacks 7.1-channel analog audio outputs and is therefore not an ideal solution if you own an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver. As I mentioned, the BDP-S360 has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. Audio adjustments include multiple Dynamic Range Compression options, A/V Sync, and an audio filter (sharp or slow) for analog signals.

The BDP-S360's disc drive supports BD, DVD, CD audio, AVCHD, MP3, and JPEG playback. The back panel features an Ethernet port for BD-Live Web connectivity, as well as quick firmware updates. The BDP-S360 has no internal memory, so the addition of an external storage device is required to download BD-Live features; a USB port is provided for this purpose. Unfortunately, the USB port does not support playback of digital music or photos (the step-up BDP-S560 will offer photo playback via USB). Advanced control ports, such as RS-232 or IR, are also omitted.

Highs Points
• The BDP-S360 supports 1080p/24 playback of Blu-ray discs.
• The player has internal Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI.
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content.

Low Points
• The BDP-S360 lacks 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, so it's not the best choice for someone who owns an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver.
• The player lacks internal memory, so you must add your own USB flash drive. Plus, the USB port doesn't support photo or music playback.
• The player does not support wireless connectivity to your home network, nor does it offer a streaming-media feature from Netflix, Amazon, or the like.

Conclusion
In terms of Blu-ray features like BD-Live support and onboard high-resolution audio decoding, the BDP-S360's feature set is on par with other new entry-level players from companies like Panasonic, LG, and Samsung. However, those companies have all included some type of streaming VOD feature, while Sony has not, which puts the BDP-S360 at a real disadvantage.
 

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My wife purchased this player for me from BB as an Christmas gift and the player is quite nice. I does a good job of upscaling DVDs and the BluRay playback is great. However there are a few things that I dislike about it.....
1. Menu selection (I do not know if this is to do with bluray in general or just the player), there is no way to skip all the advertisements and go straight to the menu screen that I have found so that you can start the movie straight away
2. Audio, some movies are great sounding and I actually have to turn down the receiver from normal sounds levels, then there are those that you have to turn it up higher than normal to hear it. This differs from disc to disc... like Terminator Salvation I have to turn the sounds down for most of the movie... however Startrek, has to be turned up for most of the movie to hear everything.... Not really sure if it is my receiver, the player or the movie?
 

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The Sony 360 is an excellent player considering it's price, ref to the volume differences this has been mentioned before but not just for the Sony player, do you have the audio compression set to Auto IIRC this is set by default to on, if so turn it off and see if it makes any differences?
 

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Dolby TruHD sometimes forces the receiver to turn on dynamic compression sometimes called night mode also check the receivers setting to see it it has been turned on.
 
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