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Customer Review

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant device, for the money, maybe I'm cheap!?, 25 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Sony BDPS390 SMART Wi-Fi Blu-ray Player (Electronics)
Overall, I am impressed, a good value for money Blu Ray player, home media streamer and internet tv streamer. Tweaking may be required for some file formats and server software. Unit and remote are a bit cheap feeling but work very well.

Setup: BDP-S390 connected to a 1080i generic tv, Wifi'd to a pc running Sony HomeStream (serviio) for DLNA services.

Out of the box: The player itself is not as sturdy feeling as a PS3 or more expensive model but I was pretty happy with it. The remote is cheap but comes with batteries. Does not come with a HDMI or Component leads, integrated power cable. Minimal packaging, light unit. Good button and tray action. Curved top - you can't put anything on it!

General use: The system starts you off with a set up menu which will help you set your tv connection type and network connection type. It also asks if it can use USB media as a data store, for reasons explained below select yes and get a FAT 32 memory stick in that slot! It also has a quick boot option (more power needed captain!) which is much quicker but the slow boot takes about 10 seconds, the quick is instant. It will also ask you to update the player to most recent firmware; I updated mine straight away but forums have said that netflix app is messed up after this and some file type support is dropped as a result. I don't use netflix but all issues seem to be resolved by removing account details, restarting and re-entering. File type support updates are covered in the media streaming section below. The remote has all the buttons you need but does feel cheap cheap cheap! Menu selection is like the PS3 and scrolling is a bit jerky and clunky looking (hi res graphics down scaled poorly) but works and isn't too laggy. It loaded a blu ray to play quick enough for me not to get bored waiting! Really awesome feature I found was Wake On Lan (WOL) for you media streamers, Sony doesn't seem to mention this anywhere!

Blu Ray and DVD Playback: Hard to judge as I can't take full advantage of the quality of the blu ray file with a 1080i tv. But all in all the image was good and clear. The only limitations I encountered were down to my generic tv. Pixilation on DVD upscaling was not as bad as on my previous DVD up-scaler. A good experience all round. I used Wall-E as a base of my opinions. The drive does make noticeable noise when running but I like my movies loud enough to cover it.
Streaming was a bit jerky to begin with, pause it to let it buffer if needed.

Media server over Wifi: The majority of my media files are .mkv, .avi and some .mp4 files. I streamed this initially with PS3 Media server but encountered transcoding issues with all files so I ditched it. I then looked on the internet and found from "Official Sony BDP-S590 and BDP-390 Thread" on AV forums which said to try either Serviio or Sony's own DLNA media server 'Homestream'. This worked but not straight off the cuff. Problems I encountered were with all file types being transcoded poorly to .divx to the point of giving a corrupt file message, this player cannot do .divx! But it will natively do .mkv, mp4 and .mtts/m2ts, with various accompanying audio types. The solution to this was to open the config file for the media player on your pc and alter some of the transcoding settings.

!!!!Back up this file before you make any corrections!!!! Just copy it locally with another name - I insist!

The file is located in the program folders or install directory in the config folder, use an app like notepad++ to open it and find the section on Blu Ray players, collapse the rest with the + and - signs. Once you have found this section it will look like this but with much more text:

<Matches container="flv">
<Matches container="ogg">
<Matches container="avi">
<Matches container="mp4" vCodec="mjpeg"> </Video>

As this essentially says "this file=.xxx" "will become this file=.mjpeg" in this example. For the file types supported by the player described on their website, you can set them to not have a "vCodec=" setting. It was easy enough for me to do as I only use the 3 types, mainly .mkv. MKV files are transcoded to .avi but WHY it can play .mkv! I have tweaked the .mkv settings for this feature much better playback. After this it all worked so very well :)

Homestream is as a free bit of software pretty good despite this correction. Others DLNA streaming softwares exist, ps3 media server, twonky, serviio - homestream is a mod of this one. Twonky is the only paid for one. Google them and try them to see what you like.

Play back through the front USB: Good clear and quick of all the file types I had. The player did not appear to support the cheap USB to SATA bridge bridge I have for an external HDD but I have read that other branded ones may work as long as they are formatted to FAT32, NTFS is a bit slow on this player, not impossible though.

Wake On Lan (WOL): If like me you use a computer to stream media and like me your network card can be WOL enabled, this player will wake your server on request. Really handy if its not next to it! So I can start up the tv fail to find any broadcast channels to watch, turn on the blu ray player and fail to want to watch the bluray in it or anything on the many many streaming channels then start my pc from the player wait for it to boot and then watch a file on it without moving - wicked! Really handy if you media stream like me and your server is WOL enabled (most are now, look in the bios). Set your DLNA software to start with your server or run as a service on your server.

Streaming from the internet: This works fine, really convenient. I'm with virgin - currently capped to 1.1Mbps! I did previously state it was nice to stick a USB stick in the front for a buffer but as it turns out my microwave messes up the Wifi in our house.

The remote is really cheap! I mean it creaks when you press a button! Horrible compared to a Sony Bravia tv remote and the Sony PS3 remote. There is a smartphone Sony made app (app store - FREE!) but for me it was a bit laggy as I am running over a wireless-G network, I'm sure with wireless-N it would be better. May be better with a different smart phone, tried on an Android ICS (Nexus). It offers a mouse pad and keyboard when required but you can't use the phone app to enter your Wifi code, go on, guess why!

Overall:

Advantages, for the money:
- Good Blu ray and DVD play back
- Good streaming for internet and local media
- Smartphone app is a nice idea
- Good clean look for next to the tv, quite small, no bigger than a sky box
- Has a quick boot up option
- Wake On Lan is really good
- Lots of built in media channels
- Some but not brilliant internet browser capabilities
- Built-in wifi, wireless-N, will do b/g/n
- Ethernet connection on back

Disadvantages:
- Slightly cheap feeling unit, good button and tray action none the less
- Cheap feeling remote
- Noisy drive unit
- Curved top - you can't put much on it!
- Limitation on Homestream - have to set your transcoding option but there is no GUI to help!

Final words:
I want you to like it as I like it. After tweaking Homestream it is perfect for my needs. However it is what you pay for, if you want a physically higher quality unit then you'll have to pay for it! For what the price has and the features its pretty good. It could have a slightly better menu experience (crisper graphics), a quiet drive and a more solid feel but you pay for these features - I didn't want to! Why not get a PS3 because this supports more file formats and does wireless-n. Why not get the Sony BDP S-490 because this has wifi, not the Sony BDP S-590 either as I don't think 3D tv is worth it. The only other one I found with comparable features (mainly wifi) was an LG which didn't support as many media file types. The wifi dongles are a lot of money for a branded one. Why not build a HTPC for this because it would cost twice as much for the features (blu ray drive) and be fussy with software and what not. Why not get a WD live tv box because it won't do blu ray or DVD.

Quick bit on me; pc gamer, enthusiastic movies watcher, enthusiastic tv watcher, these experiences should be done with convenience and quality. Other media items I own - PS3, quality tv, high spec PC. Fiddling with software skills high - I work in software development but fiddling with this config file mentioned above is easy for me; google: "Official Sony BDP-S590 and BDP-390 Thread" or alike for more help on it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Oct 2012, 13:38:55 BST
Very thorough review, thank you, you've nearly sold me on it. My only queries are:-

1. Is it possible to plug in a USB keyboard? I've heard entering URLs is a pain using the remote and don't have a smartphone (yet).
2. Will I be able to enter my Wifi password if it uses upper case letters? I've not changed the password that came with my BT Home Hub and I think it's in all caps. Or is entering the password not case-sensitive?
3. Do I have to pay extra for a player that is specifically region free (there's one listed here on Amazon) or is this one able to be unlocked? I have a mix of American and British DVDs (not Blu Ray).

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Oct 2012, 14:08:01 BST
Last edited by the author on 3 Oct 2012, 14:08:15 BST
1. I have not tried a keyboard and mouse but Sony's website and AV forums have said yes.
2. WPA and WEP passwords are case sensitive and you can with the remote.
3. I can only google this one I'm afraid and can't find anything on it. I use this mainly for streaming media and any DVD's I watch are Region 2. All my bluray's are R2 as well.

Hope that helps.

Please do post back with your decisions and or findings :)

Posted on 23 Oct 2012, 14:47:19 BST
msCX says:
Excellent and really useful review. Thanks. One question from me. The only reason I would have for buying a Sony (or Samsung, it seems from LoveFilm) blu ray player like this when I have a perfectly good Sony BDPS360 bought Dec 2009, is to stream LoveFilm Instant directly to my TV (a Toshiba) instead having to connect the laptop to the TV. Do you know if this player can deliver LoveFilm Instant (assuming good wifi connection) to a connected TV? LoveFilm also say that Samsung blu ray players (2010/after) can do this (as well as Sony/Samsung internet TVs 2010/after).

Many thanks and look forward to hearing from you if you have the time to respond.
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