Sony's entry-level BDP-S360 is typical of the new breed of Blu-ray players. It has the basics covered, with Profile 2.0 support and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. Beyond the basics, however, the BDP-S360 doesn't offer much. Unlike its competitors, the BDP-S360 can't deliver any streaming Internet content, such as Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, or Pandora. The Sony BDP-S360 does have a stylish exterior design and it offers reliable Blu-ray playback, but we have a hard time finding a reason to recommend it over the other options.
The BDP-S360's design strikes a nice balance between the glitzy (some would say tacky) gloss of Samsung's players and the more conservative approach of Panasonic's players. The front panel is dark and translucent, giving it a glasslike look. When opening the disc tray, the entire front panel actually flips down, similar to the Samsung BD-P1600's design, but we found Sony's implementation less clunky.
Front panel controls
There are only basic front-panel controls available, so you better not lose the remote.
Soundtrack support is solid, with the BDP-S360 featuring onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. That means it can decode those soundtrack formats so they can be played back on almost every HDMI-capable AV receiver. Bit stream output is also supported, if you'd rather the decoding be done in your AV receiver.
We appreciated the BDP-S360's small footprint, a slim 16.9 inches wide by 2.2 inches high and 8.1 inches deep.
The BDP-S360 includes the standard collection of outputs. There's an HDMI output, capable of outputting Blu-ray movies at 1080p, as well as upscaling standard DVDs to 1080p. If you have an older HDTV, there's also a component video output, which will handle Blu-ray at 1080i and DVDs at 480p. There's also a legacy composite video output, which is limited to 480i standard-definition resolution.
For audio, you can use the aforementioned HDMI output for high resolution, multichannel audio. There are also two digital audio outputs--both optical and coaxial--which is a nice bonus, as many Blu-ray players only include optical. There's no multichannel analog output, but there's a stereo analog audio output if you have an older AV receiver.
The included remote has a great layout and simple design, but there's one fatal flaw: it lacks an open/close button for the disc tray. We're not quite sure how this oversight managed to get past Sony, but if you're used to popping open the disc tray before you get off the couch to change discs, you'll find it as frustrating as we did. Of course, you can always opt for a quality universal remote to get around this issue, as the BDP-S360 is capable of receiving an open/close IR command.