The Official Sony BDP-S350 Owners Thread - Page 10 - AVS Forum
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post #271 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 05:22 AM
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Alright,
First off, for anyone in the Los Angeles area, the Sony Style store in the Beverly Center got these in stock yesterday and I picked one up last night.

Last November, I wrote about my thoughts of the Panasonic BD30 (which was the first stand-alone I thought was actually of value). While I still love my Panny, it is not without some faults (some which didn't exist when I wrote up the review). But it was miles better than the Sony S500 released about the same time and Sony had a lot of ground to make up with the 350. I'm pleased to report that, based on what sampling and comparisons I've done with it, Sony has caught up... mostly.

All viewing was done @ 1080/60p (display can't do 24p, so I can't comment there) and audio was bitstreamed to a Denon 3808.

Video
As for video quality, I had a hard time seeing any difference between the 350 and the BD30. There were times when I felt the 350 might be just a hair more detailed, but it was hard to know if that was because it actually was or just because I was focusing more closely on the areas of the screen I was scrutinizing. While I'm not totally sure the 350 is any better, I can tell you that it isn't worse.

Audio
Audio quality via bitstreaming seemed identical to the BD30, although given the audio issues that the BD30 has had off and on since release, I really plan to do a lot more testing. Yes, it will internally decode TrueHD and output as PCM via HDMI. No, it won't decode DTS-MA. One of the big pluses I found for the 350 though is that it has instant bitstream pass-through, even more so than the Panny. The second the video showed up on screen, the audio was also locked in at the receiver. Nothing makes me crazier than having to wait a few seconds for the audio to kick on after the video is already on screen (Samsung and Onkyo, I’m glaring at you).

Speed/Handling-
While the loading speed on the 350 is miles better than it was on the 300 or 500, it's not quite up to what I get with the BD30... but it's very close. For reference, here were the times I recorded for the BD30 last November:
Quote:


A non-Java disc:
X-Men 3 - 21 seconds

Java discs:
Pirates 1 - 48 seconds
Pirates 2 - 45 seconds
The Fly - 49 seconds
Spiderman 3 - 48 seconds
Fantastic Four:SS - 60 seconds
Surf’s Up - 60 seconds
Day After Tomorrow - 61 seconds

Here are the times for the Sony 350 using the exact same timing method (from the closure of the door to the first screen appearance -FBI warning, studio identifier, or whatever)-
Non-Java disc:
X-Men 3 - 25 seconds

Java discs:
Pirates 1 - 49 seconds
Pirates 2 - 47 seconds
The Fly - 49 seconds
Spiderman 3 - 54 seconds
Fantastic Four:SS - 60 seconds
Surf’s Up - 65 seconds
Day After Tomorrow - 63 seconds

So we're talking about a maximum 6 second difference. But here's something interesting... I loaded Die Hard 2 in both players and the BD30 loaded it in 57 seconds while the 350 took 55 seconds, so I would take the speed issue as a non-issue. Similarly, menu function and usability was the same on both players. Menu animations were smooth and lacked the clunky, laborious quality of the previous Sony models. The downside is that the 350 doesn’t have the access times of the BD30. Once you make a selection from the menus or skip a chapter, it takes a second or so longer for the player to make that a reality.

One other thing must be mentioned about the speed. The 350 has a setting for a Quick Start mode. What this essentially does is leave the player in a bit of a standby mode rather than completely powering down (although all outward appearances are that the player is completely off). It's maybe not as energy efficient, but it saves you some time on the start up. A complete start up in standard mode is 31 seconds from "Power off" to "Ready." Enabling Quick Start cuts that down to 19 seconds.

Functionality/Other Features
The design of the player interface, as others have mentioned, is that of the Sony Xross Media Bar as seen in the PS3. In fact, it's like having a little PS3 in a standalone box, only without the horsepower. The on-screen display once the disc is running is also very PS3 reminiscent with a lot of the same info. I was delighted to see a time remaining function, something lacking on the BD30, and there are also places on the display to show the audio format, number of channels and PCM bit depth (cool), the video codec used (alright), and the bitrate (uggggg).

And the 350 also allows you (on non-Java discs only) to resume playback of a Blu-ray, even if you have turned the player off in either standard or Quick Start mode. That was a really nice thing the BD30 had that all the other players lacked.

And one final thing that I was actually pretty surprised by... It's a pretty good standard DVD player. Doing comparisons with the BD30, it was no contest. The BD30 was often riddled with artifacts and junk, while the Sony was very smooth and relatively artifact free. I don't think it's a perfect DVD player and I'll be interested in what Kris has to say about it, but I couldn't be sure if some of the very minor issues I was catching on occasion were a fault of the DVD playback or something inherent in the source. Layer changes were about a second or maybe a bit under. Certainly not the fastest I've seen, but not horrible and something I could live with.

Overall, I think Sony has done a great job getting their players up to snuff after Panasonic left them in the dust last Christmas. With an upcoming 2.0 firmware update, this player will do it all. I’ll be interested in what Pioneer comes up with, but (once again) they’re building and releasing players that are outdated even before release. For BD30 owners that want to upgrade to 2.0 and don’t want to spend $700 to do it, I think this is a player that won’t make you miss your Panasonic.
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post #272 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 05:31 AM
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I only have a 720P display (sorry!) and have been reading about the processing of the 350. Should I set it to 720P or 1080i? Also, I have an HD-A3, which one would you recommend for SD DVD's?

Thanks!

NHT speakers, Denon 4520, 65VT50
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post #273 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 06:18 AM
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Great review Brad Ley!! Based on your input, I'll either be getting the 350 or the 550 when it comes out. I also have a 3808.
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post #274 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Ley View Post

Functionality/Other Features
The design of the player interface, as others have mentioned, is that of the Sony Xross Media Bar as seen in the PS3. In fact, it's like having a little PS3 in a standalone box, only without the horsepower. The on-screen display once the disc is running is also very PS3 reminiscent with a lot of the same info. I was delighted to see a time remaining function, something lacking on the BD30, and there are also places on the display to show the audio format, number of channels and PCM bit depth (cool), the video codec used (alright), and the bitrate (uggggg).

Just out of curiosuty, can you take a couple of photo of interface and Osd?
Thanks!
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post #275 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 06:27 AM
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So is the "BD Audio Setting" set to Direct kind of like the Samsung's "audiophile" setting?
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post #276 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 06:58 AM
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I have several PNY Attaché USB memory modules that fit well into the port on the 350's back and are recognized by the player. I currently have a 2 gig module in place. Dan
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post #277 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 07:04 AM
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Great review Brad Ley!!! Exactly what I was looking for.
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post #278 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 07:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlangner View Post

Just got mine...

Does anybody know the answer to these 3 questions?

- If you load AVCHD or MPEG2 clips on the USB flash drive, will the 350 play them?
- Are there any current or planned Sony devices that will have a Memory Stick slot?
- Will the 350 play BD content authored on a DVD+/-R or DVD+/-RW disc?


Thanks!!!
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post #279 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 07:31 AM
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Great review Brad Ley!!! Exactly what I was looking for.

+1


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post #280 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 07:32 AM
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Yes, nice review. I am more interested in 1080p/24 and how close the units are. I also can usually get a good idea how well they are pic Q wise by how much tweaking I have to do in my VP. And I am glad somebody used a stopwatch because I don't do that.

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post #281 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 08:18 AM
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All other features aside, does this unit strike anyone as a bit deficient in its audio support? I'd like to hear from owners, but it seems as though the default HDMI setup (i.e. what many homeowners are going to leave it at) is to convert everything to LPCM. That's fine with the exception of 2 DTS-HD formats. Because there is no decoder for either, only the DTS core (5.1) is extracted and decoded before being sent out HDMI. That indicates you could only hear DTS 5.1 audio if you wanted to use the secondary audio (PIP) BonusView feature.

You can only listen to DTS-HD 7.1 IF you setup the players BD Audio as Direct (bitstream) AND have an A/V receiver that can decode that bitstream. In this case though, you would not be able to use PIP secondary audio because that requires decoding and mixing of the two audio streams on the player.

The net is that you can simultaneously listen to primary DD Plus/TrueHD AND secondary BonusView audio (because they can be decoded and mixed with secondary audio on the player). You cannot do the same with DTS-HD (HR or MA). I don't know if that is a big deal but it seems possible to do with the PS3 as it can decode and mix either DD and DTS HD streams with secondary audio.
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post #282 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eganov View Post

All other features aside, does this unit strike anyone as a bit deficient in its audio support? I'd like to hear from owners, but it seems as though the default HDMI setup (i.e. what many homeowners are going to leave it at) is to convert everything to LPCM. That's fine with the exception of 2 DTS-HD formats. Because there is no decoder for either, only the DTS core (5.1) is extracted and decoded before being sent out HDMI. That indicates you could only hear DTS 5.1 audio if you wanted to use the secondary audio (PIP) BonusView feature.

You can only listen to DTS-HD 7.1 IF you setup the players BD Audio as Direct (bitstream) AND have an A/V receiver that can decode that bitstream. In this case though, you would not be able to use PIP secondary audio because that requires decoding and mixing of the two audio streams on the player.

The net is that you can simultaneously listen to primary DD Plus/TrueHD AND secondary BonusView audio (because they can be decoded and mixed with secondary audio on the player). You cannot do the same with DTS-HD (HR or MA). I don't know if that is a big deal but it seems possible to do with the PS3 as it can decode and mix either DD and DTS HD streams with secondary audio.

Well what the point of watching a video commentary track with full loseless if you're not gonna ear of it most the time???? because it will be the other track running with the sound muffled in the background?

That work great in the BD30. I like what they did with Rambo. The commentary track is the same as the video commentary. So you don't need to enable the Secondary Audio decoder since it use track 3 (audio commentary) and pop a window with Stallone Speaking

89+ Blu-ray Disc ;)
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post #283 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 08:33 AM
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Brad,

Great feedback. I have the BD30 right now (sold my PS3 because of it). Your comments were right on the money last year about the BD30 vs PS3 for Blu-ray PQ improvement. I know you said you thought the Sony might be just a hair more detailed than the BD30 - do you plan on doing anymore comparisons?

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post #284 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryoohki View Post

Well what the point of watching a video commentary track with full loseless if you're not gonna ear of it most the time???? because it will be the other track running with the sound muffled in the background?

Isn't it possible that one might want to watch a movie using a DTS-HD MA soundtrack and then occasionally pop up Director's commentary? That would be immpossible with this player- right?
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post #285 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 08:51 AM
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How is Sony (compared to Panasonic) when it comes to support and firmware updates on their BD players?

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post #286 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 09:09 AM
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Based on initial reports, you will not be able to fully utilize the Integra DTC-9.8's high quality Reon video processor for deinterlacing content such as 1080i/30fps Blu-ray discs - most concerts and nature documentaries on Blu-ray (for example Nine Inch Nails, Galapagos, Nature's Journey, etc) along with a few 1080i/24fps (Short Circuit, Beer League, etc) films. Instead, you will have to rely on the $399 BDP-S350's internal video processing chip to do the deinterlacing unless you want to be messing around in the S350 player's setup menu every time you switch between a movie and concert; for reference, note that Secrets of Home Theater and HiFi found that the $499 Panasonic BD30 bobs 1080i/30fps Blu-ray Discs to 1080p, losing much resolution in the process. There are other 3rd gen player options by different manufacturers which allow you to output the original resolution, be it progressive or interlaced, to external video processor chips such as the one in the DTC-9.8 for optimal video quality with both Blu-ray and DVD. It is a shame to see that video processor go to waste.

I was also thinking about buying a BDP-S350 and I have a Onkyo 905 receiver with the Reon video chip. What 3 gen player will allows me to output the orginal resolution? But for 1080p movies it will not make any difference?
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post #287 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidHir View Post

How is Sony (compared to Panasonic) when it comes to support and firmware updates on their BD players?


I know with the 300, I would usually receive a firmware update about every 2 months or so. They were pretty regular about updates.

Blu-Ray: 40
Yamaha RX-V663
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post #288 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by rp683 View Post

The manual is there....

http://www.docs.sony.com/release/BDPS350_US.pdf

Excellent, thanks! Can anyone tell me if the S350 can do frame-advance and frame-reverse, possibly with a different remote? The manual says nothing about these features (or any slow-motion modes in general).
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post #289 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rveras View Post

Great review Brad Ley!!! Exactly what I was looking for.

+1


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post #290 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eganov View Post

Isn't it possible that one might want to watch a movie using a DTS-HD MA soundtrack and then occasionally pop up Director's commentary? That would be immpossible with this player- right?

Sure... so get the s550 or a ps3 or a pioneer 51fd... maybe others.


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post #291 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

hpmoon, I plan to compare the s350 to the PS3 because there are a lot of people interested. You may want to put me on your ignore list soon...

Joerod, what else will you be comparing?
BD-50
51-FD
Will you be able to do a full side by side comparison?


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post #292 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eganov View Post

All other features aside, does this unit strike anyone as a bit deficient in its audio support? ....

If Sony had put every feature into the S350, then why would anyone spend money on the S550 that can do everything you discuss?

They had to draw a line somewhere on what features were in which model, and even if we don't like which things they left out, I don't think that makes it "deficient". I too would rather have more, but I understand that they had to make a difference between the models.

For most users, (the ones that don't use AVS Forum) they don't even know (or care) about the new audio formats, and they will either stick with their old receiver or in some cases even just using the two speakers in the TV. Most of these types of people will upgrade to Blu-ray for the picture quality not sound.
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post #293 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Micah008 View Post

If Sony had put every feature into the S350, then why would anyone spend money on the S550 that can do everything you discuss?

They had to draw a line somewhere on what features were in which model, and even if we don't like which things they left out, I don't think that makes it "deficient". I too would rather have more, but I understand that they had to make a difference between the models.

For most users, (the ones that don't use AVS Forum) they don't even know (or care) about the new audio formats, and they will either stick with their old receiver or in some cases even just using the two speakers in the TV. Most of these types of people will upgrade to Blu-ray for the picture quality not sound.

well put.
Dang, i'd like a ps3 in s350 packaging, that can bitstream, has analog outs, IR remote, and no fan. Oh yea, and for $200.


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post #294 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 11:08 AM
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Yes, I plan to compare all of those units. I have the capability to have 4 playing at once. Its going to be a busy few weeks!

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post #295 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidHir View Post

How is Sony (compared to Panasonic) when it comes to support and firmware updates on their BD players?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlangner View Post

I know with the 300, I would usually receive a firmware update about every 2 months or so. They were pretty regular about updates.

As an owner of a Sony BDP-S1 and 300, as well as a Panny BD30, I would agree that Sony is good about delivering timely firmware updates.

What's more, based on my experience, I don't think any of their updates created problems with the units.
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post #296 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 12:31 PM
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Does this player have a zoom function? I'm not talking about trying to get rid of black bars, I'm talking about a 2x/4x/8x type zoom like most DVD players have. I know it's a minor feature, but it's not at all uncommon for us to pause and zoom in on something (like "I wonder what brand of guitar that is?" or "did I just see what I thought I saw?"). I don't see it in the manual.

Brian
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post #297 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Micah008 View Post

If Sony had put every feature into the S350, then why would anyone spend money on the S550 that can do everything you discuss?

They had to draw a line somewhere on what features were in which model, and even if we don't like which things they left out, I don't think that makes it "deficient". I too would rather have more, but I understand that they had to make a difference between the models.

For most users, (the ones that don't use AVS Forum) they don't even know (or care) about the new audio formats, and they will either stick with their old receiver or in some cases even just using the two speakers in the TV. Most of these types of people will upgrade to Blu-ray for the picture quality not sound.

I think everyone, even me, understands different products/features at different price points. Maybe "deficient" didn't exactly convey what I was trying to express but if you go back and look at the reasons for coming out with BD (or HD DVD for that matter), right up there BonusView and BD-Live functionality. The manufacturers felt live content from the Internet, fancy PIP stuff and improved audio provided compelling reasons for users to move away from SD DVD.

As I learn more details about these implementations I'm starting to wonder why bitstreaming of the new HD audio formats was even implemented. It negates the use of some of the more compelling BD features, confuses users, makes system configuration more difficult and adds to the total cost of HD in the home.

Wouldn't this have been simpler to just spec out that all HD audio was decoded by the player. This way all players and all content could fully utilize BonusView & BD-Live. There would also be BV & BDL compatibility with all those "old" receivers that supported multi-channel LPCM over HDMI. As it is, calling a player Profile 1.1 doesn't really guarantee its capabilities.

I would hate to have found out later, when playing back a concert in DTS-HD MA, that some BV & BDL stuff didn't work. Is this not an issue for those who may be considering an S350?
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post #298 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NovaKane View Post

As an owner of a Sony BDP-S1 and 300, as well as a Panny BD30, I would agree that Sony is good about delivering timely firmware updates.

What's more, based on my experience, I don't think any of their updates created problems with the units.

Good to hear. So, I could just download them off their site?

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post #299 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 01:01 PM
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Good to hear. So, I could just download them off their site?

That, then burn it to a cd or just plug it into a LAN and it will download and install the update itself if there is one available at the time you check it.
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post #300 of 6745 Old 07-10-2008, 01:04 PM
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Location: La Crosse, WI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eganov View Post

I think everyone, even me, understands different products/features at different price points. Maybe "deficient" didn't exactly convey what I was trying to express but if you go back and look at the reasons for coming out with BD (or HD DVD for that matter), right up there BonusView and BD-Live functionality. The manufacturers felt live content from the Internet, fancy PIP stuff and improved audio provided compelling reasons for users to move away from SD DVD.

As I learn more details about these implementations I'm starting to wonder why bitstreaming of the new HD audio formats was even implemented. It negates the use of some of the more compelling BD features, confuses users, makes system configuration more difficult and adds to the total cost of HD in the home.

Wouldn't this have been simpler to just spec out that all HD audio was decoded by the player. This way all players and all content could fully utilize BonusView & BD-Live. There would also be BV & BDL compatibility with all those "old" receivers that supported multi-channel LPCM over HDMI. As it is, calling a player Profile 1.1 doesn't really guarantee its capabilities.

I would hate to have found out later, when playing back a concert in DTS-HD MA, that some BV & BDL stuff didn't work. Is this not an issue for those who may be considering an S350?

I agree with your thoughts on this, too much flexibility can sometimes turn into confusion for the user.

These are really issues with Blu-ray as a technology, and how it was spec'd, but your original post sounded like you were saying there was something specificly bad about the BDP-S350, and it's audio... and although it doesn't do everything, it has more features than many/most of the standalone players that were out before it.
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Blu Ray Players , Sony , Sony Bdp S350 1080p Blu Ray Disc Player
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