Sunday, 22 March 2009

Splashing out

I'm feeling a little bit guilty about splashing out on a Blu-ray player, since I'm still waiting to hear the results of my job evaluation that may mean a cut in salary. Blu-ray discs are still much more expensive than standard DVDs too. However: our two-and-a-half year old Cambridge Audio DVD89 has been playing up, showing shadows on light parts of the picture and what looks like randomly increased contrast (the dark parts of the picture suddenly look too black). I've also been trying to use it as a CD player and, despite favourable reviews of its audio quality, have found it cuts off the first couple of seconds of each track on certain CDs. Obviously that's enough to ruin the "musical experience".

I first had the idea of replacing the player when I saw that there were Blu-ray players from Sony and Panasonic that got glowing reviews - at under £200. Apart from the fact that I'm now sceptical in general of reviews in hi-fi magazines, at least they weren't telling me I had to spend a fortune. I would (in effect) get three players in one (CD, DVD and Blu-ray) for less than the price of the DVD89. The choice was between the Panasonic DMP-BD35 and the Sony BDP-S350. Both were in stock at our local Richer Sounds (for the best prices I'd seen advertised) and I plumped for the Sony - it was slightly cheaper and the remote control was more compatible with our Sony TV.

Although I only have two Blu-ray discs up to now, I'm impressed with BD image quality. The Simpsons Movie looks brilliant. The other one is The Company of Wolves and I suspect I should have plumped for a much cheaper SD disc here - it's a rather grainy film that seems to have had an indifferent transfer. With the continuing price gulf between DVD and Blu-ray, it looks as if care is needed when choosing which format to buy. Incidentally, this player seems to manage CD Audio fine, without any nasties like cutting off the start of tracks.