Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Player Real-World Performance
The BDP-S350's load time is faster than many previous-generation Blu-ray players. It took about 30 seconds to load Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. A few other Blu-ray discs I checked were closer to 25 seconds. A standard DVD was slightly less by a second or so, and CDs took about 10 seconds.
Blu-ray playback was extraordinary, as good as I've seen from my PS3 and the Samsung BD-P1500. In the classic scene from The Fifth Element when Leeloo jumps off the building into several layers of high-flying traffic, the depth was phenomenal. Edges are sharply defined with crisp detail, and the picture took on a three-dimensional quality. The color saturation was so vibrant, it almost jumped off the screen.
To evaluate the audio, I used chapter 8 from Spider-Man 3 with the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Here, Peter Parker and his buddy Harry fight to the death high up in the buildings. I like this sequence because there are lots of surround effects moving from channel to channel.
Comparing the internal decoding with a bitstream output to the Marantz AV8003, a $2600 pre/pro, I detected only a slightly wider dynamic range and increased transparency from the Marantz's decoding versus the S350's. However, there was very little difference between the two decoders in overall coherency as sound moved around the 360-degree soundstage.
To see how the BDP-S350 upconverted standard-definition sources, I watched the recent remake of King Kong on DVD with the player set to output 1080p and compared it to the upconversion of my JVC projector with the player set to output 480i. The image coming from the Sony was somewhat flat, which was most apparent in dim or dark scenes. Moreover, colors were a bit muted, contributing to an overall dull appearance. With the JVC doing the processing, I saw more depth, slightly sharper detail, and more vibrant colors.