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Sony BDPS300 Blu-Ray Player

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High-definition video is truly awesome – it’s like seeing DVDs for the first time, all over again. There are, however, varying degrees of high definition. High definition cable and satellite, for example, are oftentimes disappointing – and expensive. Paying fifty dollars a month to watch upconverted DVD video can be little else.

High-definition Blu-Ray video is about as good as HD gets, and Sony’s current generation of players is Blu-Ray at its coolest. If you waited patiently for a cessation of hostilities in the great HD format battle, this is the box with which to tear down the barricades.

The BDPS300 is Sony’s entry-level Blu-Ray player. Its smarter cousin, the BDPS500, adds a motorized front panel and the ability to play Blu-Rays burned to recordable Blu-Ray media. It also adds about 200 dollars to whatever damage it will do to your plastic – unless you have a Blu-Ray drive in your PC and some reason to burn your own video, the BDPS300 is an excellent compromise.

Essentially a DVD player on steroids, the BDPS300 takes longer to unpackage than it does to install. If your monitor has an HDMI interface, you’ll need do nothing more than plug in an HDMI cable and power up the player. Finding the batteries for the remote is more of a struggle.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that compared to a DVD player, the BDPS300 takes what seems like forever to boot up and get itself ready to play. Its actual start up time is under a minute, but this doesn’t compare favorably to a DVD player, most of which are good to go in under ten seconds.

The video quality of the BDPS300 is breathtaking when it’s played through its HDMI interface, and you’ll need a fine eye indeed to notice any degradation when it’s driving a monitor through component video. Composite analog video and S-Video show their age pretty quickly – if your monitor is old enough to offer nothing better, it’s probably time for a new monitor.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the BDPS300 is how quickly you can forget it’s there. It has an intuitive remote, few configuration settings to worry about and, in so far as we could tell, no engineering hiccups that will make you deal with anything beyond its Play button.

Easily the best of the current lower-priced Blu-Ray players, the BDPS300 will let you get down to being amazed by high-definition video sooner, and with nothing between you and the action thicker than the screen of a flat-panel.