Customer Review

251 of 263 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite live up to the Sony reputation, but you get what you pay for., December 6, 2007
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This review is from: Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (Electronics)
I recently upgraded my living room to a modest hi-def system to prepare for a larger remodelling of my theater room. To weigh out the results, I purchased a 46" Polaroid HD LCD and a Toshiba HD-A20 1080p HD DVD Player player and the Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player. I wanted to see the results of both Blu-Ray and HD DVD before investing in more expensive units.

I must say that the image and sound quality of the Blu-Ray player is quite impressive, but as noted in other reviews - loading (waiting) times for certain discs are very slow. HDMI hookup was easy and the menu system worked great. At first sight the DVD upscaling was astonishing. But... there is always a but...

I also had to upgrade the firmware twice since purchasing, which was less than 3 months ago. Out of the box, it needed a firmware upgrade to play most of the recently released movies. Very recent movies, such as Superbad [Blu-ray], Ratatouille [Blu-ray], and Live Free or Die Hard [Blu-ray] needed a firmware 3.30 - which stalled and eventually crippled my unit with a permanent "NO DISC" display statement to every attempt. The install did not recognize and since then it refuses to play any discs - including standard DVDs, CDs, as well as Blu-Ray Discs. I contacted their 800 number twice and spent about an hour over the 2 days going through system saving steps, unfortunately all failed. Be careful with your firmware updates - they are both necessary, yet another root of other more hazardous problems.

If need be you may want to purchase an extended warranty to save yourself from this kind of problem; this is what I should've done. I was lucky enough to be within my warranty which gave me full protection for parts & labor (not including UPS shipping fees to Sony). But, if this had been after the waranty? This could've been a potentially expensive technological occurrence. And, what about next time?

There needs to be a ethernet port or some other way to access updates online direct to this player, a wireless method possibly? My Toshiba HD DVD player has the CAT-5 ethernet port and it makes updating (not exactly simple) more flexible. Sony's website offers the image (ISO) burn to DVDR method for updating, but this seems unpolished at best. The steps for Sony's firmware update are so precise and drawn out, but ultimately imperfect in design. The mail away disc is easy enough, but this takes at least 7 business days. Expect more and more updates too. I originally called on a 2.6 firmware update disc in September and they were backordered. The expected delay was somewhere between 3-4 weeks before delivery. All of this was right before I found out that a 3.20 and even 3.30 were available soon after.

If you are someone that purchases lots of new movies (I.E. the new releases every Tuesday), then beware that the movie content / security updates are constantly driving the player software updates - which are so hurried that they may or may not have major glitches. You will most likely need an update straight out of the box, so check the Sony website OFTEN.

Currently my player has been sent off for repairs and is at Sony in PA. In the meantime I have decided to fall back on a Sharp Aquos BDHP20U 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player. I decided to not purchase another Blu-Ray S300, so that should be a big hint to how I feel about buying this unit. For all of the enjoyment I received from it, there was equal anguish. I can neither say it's the worst or the best, but I can say the possibility exists for problems similar to my own. Honestly I wanted to give a 2.5 stars (somewhere in the middle), but I left it at 2 stars instead of rounding up. The Blu-Ray technology needs more trial and error experience, unfortunately we are the $400-per-unit-guinea pigs.

Update as of 12-10-2007 - The Sharp Aquos BDHP20U 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player that I purchased has restored my faith in Blu-Ray technology. Nothing is ever perfect, but this is proof of progress at least. See my review for details. I really like this player, hands down the better of these two designs.

Update as of 01-09-2008 - My player is unfixable. The firmware update 3.30 somehow ruined the hard drive, so it's unfixable. Sony gave me the choice of waiting a couple of months for a refurbished unit or paying $200 more for a new S500 series player (the next cheapest unit available direct from Sony). I elected (and with protest) to upgrade to the S500, which now is unavailable. What was to be a 5-7 day wait now has gone to over a month. Where does this all end? If I was shopping for a Blu-ray player today, the S300 would be my last choice. The price has dropped on Amazon nearly $80 in the last few months, yet it is still only slightly cheaper than some players designed recently - The S300's drive is an old design that Sony is currently still supporting with firmwares (but for how much longer?). Sony customer reps told me that they have not been producing this unit for some time now, it's a 2006 design - which in this market of ever-changing technology is a lifetime ago.

P.S. - Since my first review at least 2 more firmware updates have released for this unit making at least 5 firmwares changes since September of 2007 that I am aware of.
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Showing 11-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Posted on Aug 26, 2008 12:17:07 PM PDT
Well,this changed my mind on buying a Sony S-300. I think I will go with a Samsung Blu Ray dvd player. Lot better quality machine...Git R done....

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2008 12:25:06 PM PDT
Thanks for this info about sony. I will never buy another Sony product. If you want a well built blu ray player,go with a samsung.

Posted on Aug 29, 2008 2:31:05 PM PDT
Rod Turner says:
BUY a PS3 and u get updates for ever fast and easy! also 5 blueray movies and a free game all under 400.00
This should put all the reviews to bed!!

Posted on Aug 29, 2008 2:31:30 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 29, 2008 2:31:50 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2008 6:04:23 AM PDT
Lone Ranger says:
I own the Sharp Aquos Blu ray Player as well............and I must say its performance is Stellar....
Sharp emailed me and told me there was a firmware make sure that my unit would not have any loading I decided to upgrade the firmware in my unit....and now it loads just about any Blu ray under 25 seconds.........I love it.......

Posted on Sep 27, 2008 8:43:03 AM PDT
This convinces me to not buy a cheopo Sony Blu-ray. Who the heck has the time and energy to mess around with a turkey like that?

Posted on Dec 7, 2008 3:48:37 PM PST
Chuck Maru says:
Stunning picture with Blu-ray discs, great with DVDs (upscales nicely). 5.1 sound is fantastic with both. I use HDMI for video to 70" XBR HDTV & optical audio to older receiver. I've updated my BDP-S300 several times since purchasing it near the beginning of 2008. No major problem for me, as I am comfortable downloading the updates from Sony and burning to a CD. Last time, I looked for an update because 'The Bank Job' wouldn't play -- played fine after update. Blu-ray is an evolving, expanding format. Unfortunately, being a programmable computer, power-up takes awhile, even with regular DVDs. Long start-up times with Blu-Ray discs are common, as players re-program disc-specific features with Java code loaded from disc. There might be better deals, faster start-ups, easier updates (via Ethernet) on newer models, I don't know, but this one continues to please me. Oh yeah, it also plays CDs and CD's with MP3s well (via on-screen menus & contents).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2008 2:18:28 PM PST
mike ph. says:
no it shouldn't. some people don't want a ps3. a ps3 is not a blu-ray player. it's a gaming system that just so happens to play blu-ray. stop shoving the ps3 down people's throats. not everyone wants a ps3. jeez louise.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2009 7:22:35 PM PDT
It seems the PS3 is the unit to buy to play BluRay!
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