I just got mine today. I will try to give great details without being too technical.
First what I have it hooked up to:
37" JVC LT-37X787
Hi-quality HDMI cable (like it matters?)
Coax hook up on the sound
The only BD's I have Are:
Enter the Dragon, Bullitt, The Getaway, First Blood, Dog Day Afternoon, The Dirty Dozen, Superman II... With Casino Royale on the way.
The box was nice looking and the unit itself looks better in person with a gloss on along the top of the unit. I do not (I have not looked well either) seen the logos on the front and they do not light up.
Display wise, there is nothing special. A blue light lights up in the middle and you see a light that says HDMI and HD lit up in orange. You have to be really close to see that!
This was my first Sony product in I don't know how long and my first Sony vidoe product in at least 10-15 years. I prefer Panansonic (or even Toshibs) for digital video and JVC for TV's.
What was used for Comparison:
Since this is my first Blu Ray, I had nothing to compare it to except cable HD, the Panasonic S97 and a brief moment I had with the HD-DVD player on the X-Box 360.
The only HD-DVD I saw was the King Kong pack -in which did look VERY good! I took it back because I did not like the idea of having two disc palyer just to play one disc. I liked it, but I knew I could not invest the money in a collection that may go the way of the Beta VCR.
Going by memory on the King Kong, the King Kong did look better, BUT it is because it is a newer film and my collection happens to be of older films so you may dismiss that.
Now, I have to compare it to the S97's up-conversion of the same films that I bought on BD. These are films that I have seen too many times to count, so I know how they should look. Also keep in mind that I am operating at 720P, not 1080P.
I put in Dog Day Afternoon because I love this film. As soon as the Warner logo hits, I knew right off that this was ineed a superior picture than the up-convert. I read reviews where they reported on a lot of grain so I was expecting that. It was smooth and sharp. It was cleaner and the sound had a lot more detail and impact, and it was not because the picture was clearer.
Plastic bags looked like plastic bags - shine, creases and all! Water, look like water with various colors instead of one general color. The backgrounds showed details that I did not notice on the S97. Colors look more distinct. Water moves that way it should. It was noticably better than the UC. In fact, it was a lot better.
Next was Enter the Dragon. You know Bruce Lee is a must for new formats. I just hope his others get justice done to them fo HD. When I put these in, I am looking for something that I did not see in the UC. I am looking for somethinhg far superior. What I did notices was that hair and face details were realistic. Wet hair looked as you would see it as did the scars on Bob Wall's face. Textiles had serious detail. BD made the early 70's available for me to experience as if I had taken a time machine! FOr once these old films looked as ifa person who was not old enough to recall those times can picture himself there!
As good as the good points are, there are some bad points. This not that bad, but it is probably more about the movies than anything. Sometimes you see the actual film, which I don't mind. Sometimes you also see what looks like the actual film without the HD treatment, which I know it has as in Bullitt. That one looked exactly like the UC, but you CAN SEE a difference between the two. More distinct colors, better sound and improved clarity.
Overall, this is the player to get. I would not dismiss the Panasonic though. The only thing I wish this player had was an intenral sharpness control. It is a little soft at times. Either that, or it was because I have 720P. The UC on this was equal to (minus the sharpnes control) the S97. In many ways, such as the lack of artifacts such as purpling, noise and banding, this was a clearer and cleaner UC job on this.
My only gripe is the start up time is kind of slow, but a lot faster than 1st gen. I would say about 30 seconds (estimate) to start up. 5 seconds to play. 2-3 from pressing a button to action.
I also am not a fan of Sony's lack of settings. The S97 had more than enough settings to not make you wish for more. This one s has ok setting, but the S97 had most things at your fingertips. When you first power it on, they take you through their menu and then it's over. You are left wondering about the fine tune settings. You have to go back into the menu again for that.
Overall, I am a satisfied customer and once you go here, you can't go back! The pciture is a ot better than cable HD. Cheap people may stick to their UC's since they MAY not see the high end results. Then again, if you have an HDTV, you SHOULD get a Blu Ray of some kind.
Now I will continue my job of replacing my DVD's with BD's as they are released. I may also look into a 1080P set. I hate to not be able to get the full effect.