At CES, Sony announced plans to release five new Blu-ray models, three of which are now available: the BDP-S380 ($150), BDP-S480 ($180), and BDP-S580 ($200). We have not performed a hands-on review of the BDP-S380, but here is an overview of its features. Unlike the two step-up models, the BDP-S380 does not support 3D playback, but it does support SACD playback. You can connect to a home network via a wired or optional wireless network connection in order to access Blu-ray BD-Live content and the BRAVIA Internet Video platform. Sony’s Web platform includes Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa, and Sony’s own Qriocity VOD service. The Entertainment Database Browser uses Gracenote technology to provide actor and production information. The BDP-S380 lacks the DLNA media streaming and Party Streaming music mode offered on the higher-priced models, but it does support the Media Remote App, which lets iPhone, iPod touch, and Android phone users control the player via their mobile device. This model also lacks the Skype capability that will be offered in the not-yet-released BDP-S780 ($250).
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In terms of video connections, the BDP-S380 offers a single HDMI output, as well as component and composite video outputs. (The component video output is SD-only; beginning this year, manufacturers are no longer allowed to include HD-capable component video outputs, due to copy-protection restrictions.) This player supports both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 output resolutions via HDMI. Picture adjustments include the ability to choose between preset picture modes and engage noise reduction; Sony has also added IP noise reduction to specifically address the quality of Internet video sources.
Audio outputs include HDMI, coaxial digital (no optical), and stereo analog. The BDP-S380 has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. The player lacks multichannel analog audio outputs, so the only way to pass decoded high-resolution audio formats is via HDMI.
The BDP-S380 supports playback of BD, DVD-Video, SACD, CD audio, AVCHD, MKV, WMV, WMA, AAC, MP3, GIF, PNG, and JPEG. You can add the player to your home network via the back-panel Ethernet port, or you can purchase and attach the optional UWA-BR100 USB adapter ($80). The BDP-S380 lacks internal memory to store BD-Live content; a back-panel USB port is provided for this purpose. A second, front-panel USB port supports media playback. The player lacks RS-232 or IR ports for integration into an advanced control system.
Read about the high points and the low points of the BDP-S380 on Page 2.