Sony’s own PlayStation 3 indirectly made a huge impact in pushing high-definition media to the masses. While the PlayStation 3 had a rough launch in its early months as it was being pushed as a high-end gaming console, many critics praised the PS3′s Blu-ray capabilities. It was the only affordable Blu-ray player that performed well during that time and it continues to get firmware updates so it can handle the latest Blu-ray content including 3D movies. One of the most affordable and popular PS3 models currently costs about $250 making it possible for many manufacturers to undercut the price while maintaining the most important Blu-ray and DVD features. Of course, these cheap Blu-ray players do not play console games but there is definitely a market that enjoys watching high-definition movies for their HDTV or 3D display but do not want to pay such high premiums. This is why Sony has to target the low-end spectrum too with affordable Blu-ray players like the Sony BDP-S390.
Whether it is a phone, TV, laptop, accessory or media device, Sony has never really disappointed in hardware design. While it is understandable to make entry-level models look and feel a bit cheap, the BDP-S390 surprisingly looks rather premium. The brushed nickel finish looks nice and it should be able to match the BRAVIA displays pretty nicely. The playback buttons found on the top right of the front panel donít protrude and have a different finish so they blend rather well with the overall design. On the front panel itself, you can only find the disc tray on the left and a small panel on the right covering the only USB port. The Ethernet port along with the other common ports can be found on the back of the Sony BDP-S390.
The BDP-S390 may not be the cheapest 2012 Blu-ray player in Sony’s offerings but it can be considered as Sony’s most affordable Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi. This makes Internet setup a lot easier if you are looking to stream NetFlix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Crackle and YouTube content directly to the TV. Since all of the processing power is done within the Sony BDP-S390, the connected TV does not need to have any Internet-enabled features. Wireless setup is simple as long as the wireless router is within range.
As expected from a Sony Blu-ray player, the playback performance of Blu-ray discs is great. The Quick Start and Quick Load features live up to their names as it takes only a few seconds to load a Blu-ray movie. DVD playback also looks better as the BDP-S390 is capable of upscaling the resolution to Full HD 1080p. A 1080p TV is required to enjoy the enhanced DVD quality.
If your connected TV lacks a USB port for quick access to stored media, the Sony BDP-S390 conveniently provides one on the front of the player. This is pretty much a standard feature nowadays but Sony managed to add Xivd playback support which is usually lacking from many competing models. Music and photos can be read from USB devices as well.
Another convenient way in playing back multimedia takes advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi component of the Sony BDP-S390. The BDP-S390 can connect to DLNA devices so other computers in the wireless network running Windows 7 or newer can load Windows Media Player and share the entire music, video and photo libraries. Android devices can join the party as well including Sony’s tablet devices making it possible to “throw” the stored content directly to the display. The Sony Media Remote™ app is also freely available for iOS and Android devices so you can use the touchscreen device as a remote control and wireless keyboard. Since it is expected for the Blu-ray player to connect to the TV via HDMI, having the Sony BDP-S390 switched on gives you that feeling of controlling a smart TV with your smartphone or tablet.
There are several things that you can do while you enjoy your content. With the Socialize feature, you can share whatever it is you are watching to Facebook and Twitter. If you want to learn more about a particular movie, you can use the Gracenote service to get movie information. This feature works in some applications like YouTube and Video Unlimited as well.
Sony is also famous for making great-sounding speaker systems and the BDP-S390 can provide those speakers the compatibility they need to perform optimally. For a low-priced Blu-ray player, it is pretty generous for Sony to offer support for 7.1-channel systems along with the essential codecs including DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD. If you have some Sony Wireless Network speaker systems set up in multiple rooms, you can let the Sony BDP-S390 connect to the speakers with the Party Streaming Mode so the music being played can reach these rooms.
The Sony BDP-S390 literally makes the budget-priced BDP-S185 look like an incomplete device. With the BDP-S185 priced at around $90, the Internet-enabled features look tempting at first but the lack of Wi-Fi is a huge let down for the majority that don’t want to go through the hassles of repositioning the wireless router and finding the longest Ethernet cable needed just to keep the home theater online. Plus the BDP-S185 lacks DLNA support which pretty much makes the BDP-S185 a handicapped device when it comes to online media consumption. Paying an extra $30 for the BDP-S390 gives you a more immersive online experience. Some of the notable things that are missing from the BDP-S390 are 3D support and Skype support. There are also pricier models that perform better in speed and visuals but may require more advanced home theater equipment in order take advantage of them. Of course, there are other impressive models at the $110 to $120 price range but may not perform so well if your home theater system does not consist of Sony products. For instance, having a Sony Tablet makes the experience better since it works as a nice remote and the Sony Wi-Fi Network Speakers really make it easy to have a multi-room setup. The Sony BDP-S390 can tie the home theater system together nicely especially if your BRAVIA display lacks the Internet punch.
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