Sony have really found their styling groove in recent years with some great looking devices coming from the Japanese giants design studios – and the BDV-E380 is no exception. This mid-range model goes for a different look in 2011 with a rounded top which gives it a bit of a Playstation 3 feel.
We’ve not seen many systems over the years with curved tops, but it is an interesting new trend, and can help solve a few usability problems too, especially the way Sony have implemented it. Why? Well most people store their home cinema systems, Blu-ray/DVD players and set top boxes under the television. This means whilst the buttons on the front panel are easy to reach, they are also hard to read as you have to get down on your hands and knees to see what each button does. Having the buttons on the top of the player solves that little issue as you can see, standing up, what each one does. However, a curved top device might not be for everyone as you cannot place anything like a set top box on top of it, so you may have to place any other devices you have under the system.
The matt black finish of the system is also particularly smart and is carried through to the five surround sound speakers which also echo the curves of the main unit. The rounder speaker design should, as Sony state, give a wider listening area so the audio is more encompassing wherever you sit. Overall, the Sony BDV-E380 is a fine looking player and couldn’t be any more different in styling of the previous model.
Feature laden and smartphone controllable
In terms of features, the Sony BDV-E380 has a fully loaded specification, and if you’re looking for a central media hub, there is very little that this model can’t do. Features like iPod/iPhone docks are almost standard now, but non Apple owners can connect their devices through USB if required. The system is also DLNA compatible so you can stream music from your PC, and the feature that allows you use the system through an iPhone application has been extended for Android users too.
The online offering from Sony has been particularly good recently, and the BDV-E380 is no exception, with their Bravia® Internet Video service giving you access to a whole host of online services, from YouTube to BBC iPlayer. The system even has a simple web browser which could be useful for quick email check now and again. Unfortunately, the system does not come with built in Wi-Fi so you’ll need to purchase the optional, and pricey, wireless LAN Adapter separately if you want to connect without wires. If you use home plugs, or have a router nearby though, you’ll be well sorted though.
The system is fully 3D ready so will play the latest 3D Blu-ray discs and includes Sony’s 3D surround sound technology to give more depth to the audio. As well as improving the latest technology, the E380 will also improve older tech too, with standard DVDs being upscaled to near high definition quality, and poorer quality YouTube videos and other Internet video getting an enhancement.
Easy to use system with auto set-up
Getting started with the Sony BDV-E380 is easy and is simple to connect up with all the speaker cabling included. The very welcome two HDMI inputs mean you can plug in your set top/satellite box and your games console and makes the whole connection process a lot simpler. When all is linked up, you can then simply run the auto speaker calibration system to ensure you get the best sound quality possible for your particular listening environment.
Sony claim the disc load times have been improved over the previous model too, and whilst they were quite respectable before, any speed gain is very welcome.
As soon as you connected, calibrated and the disc is in ready to play, all you have to do is sit back and enjoying the powerful 1000w surround sound!
What to consider…
Like many of the other systems and Blu-ray players we’ve looked at, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed that the Wi-Fi adapter has again been excluded. Also remember that curved top to the main unit – if you have things to place on top it might not suit. The less expensive BDV-E280 is also worth a look.
Why you should buy the Sony BDV-E380
Sony have improved on the previous model quite nicely this year – it doesn’t give quite the same wow factor as last year, but its a good all round system and at a competitive price too. Anyone looking for a full 5.1 Blu-ray system could certainly do a lot, lot worse than this. Rating: /5
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You can read more about the Sony BDV-E380 on the official Sony UK website.