Sony DVP-NS300 DVD Player

    It seems that with current-generation DVD-Video players, one has to accept a whole host of other features that one will rarely find a use for, such as the ability to play back CD-Rs full of MP3s. Not so with Sony's latest entry-level model, the DVP-NS300, which plays DVD-Videos, Video CDs and CDs, with none of the internal circuitry devoted to those other, less important formats. Cosmetically speaking, the player is rather clunky-looking, but the image it produces makes it one of the ideal entry-level models for those unconcerned with MP3s and CD-Rs.

What's In The Box

    The following items were found in the box:     Everything the average punter needs to get started with this player is present and accounted for.

    The inside of this player is reasonably laid out, although there is a comparatively large amount of empty space inside the player. One characteristic of the player's internal structure, and one that was also quite apparent with its external structure, was that it had the budget look of a Chinese-made player rather than the unremarkable but functional look I normally associate with Sony equipment.

    The Sony DVP-NS300 is only available in silver.

Front Panel

    The Sony DVP-NS300 features a front panel with everything the basic user needs, as well as some welcome additions that are unique among players of all kinds. From left to right, we have:

    The front panel is interestingly laid out, with almost all of the controls on the right of the player, making the control panel somewhat cramped. Overall, however, using the front panel to control playback is remarkably easy and pleasant.

Rear Panel

    The NS-300 features a modest rear panel, with everything that you need and nothing that you don't. From left to right, we have:

    The Sony DVP-NS300 features labelling for the outputs on the top panel, making it easy to discern which outputs are which without needing to have access to the rear of the player. The only complaint I have is that the optical digital output uses the standard removable (and losable) plug.

Remote Control

    The Sony NS-300 features the standard kind of Sony remote control, a long rectangular design that has its good points and its bad points. Like most DVD remote controls, the RMT-D126E is divided into distinct sections that can be categorised according to function. One characteristic I found rather annoying about the NS-300's response to remote inputs is that the unit must be awoken from stand-by mode before the disc tray can be opened. This is counter-intuitive compared to other players' standard response of powering on and ejecting the disc tray when the Eject button is pressed.

    At the top of the remote control are the less frequently used buttons, with the Power button and the Eject button in the top row, easily distinguishable from one another by the difference in their elevation and colour. Between them is a Power On/Off switch for Sony televisions, which will be handy for a percentage of those who purchase this player. Below these three buttons, offset by a small amount of empty space, are a collection of buttons relating to various functions of the DVD player and Sony televisions. The television buttons, on the right column, are labelled Wide Mode, TV/Video, and the standard Vol abbreviation for volume. This last button cannot be used with Sony receivers, unfortunately. The other buttons are labelled Surround, BNR (Block Noise Reduction), Time/Text, A-B, Shuffle, Repeat, Program, and Clear. Below these three columns of lesser-used functions are the Audio, Angle, and Subtitle buttons, which are laid out a little too close to the other functions for my liking.

    Below these three buttons are the Chapter Skip buttons, a Search Mode button, the Scan/Slow buttons, and an Instant Replay Button, which repeats the last ten or so seconds of a given title when pressed. This is handy for films such as Driven, when you might want to get a quick replay of tyres flying through the air or cars hitting the wall. Beneath these buttons are the Play, Pause, and Stop buttons, which are quite reasonably laid out and made easy to discern from one another by their differing sizes. Once one has familiarised themselves with the layout of this remote, it is somewhat difficult to press the wrong key by accident, and it is quite easy to access any section of the remote with some creative shuffling of the hand or stretching of the thumb.

    At the bottom of the remote control are the navigation controls, with the Title, DVD Menu, Display, and Return buttons set into the diagonal corners of this section. The Enter key has a raised spot at its top to make it somewhat easier to discern in the darkened environment of a home theatre, but it is a little large for my liking. The arrow keys are consequently a little small, making them somewhat easy to miss, although this is easily overcome with a little familiarity with this mechanism's layout.


    The manual included with this player is seventy-three pages in length, with all of them being in English. Very little is left out of the manual, with all of the basic and not so basic functions explained in great detail, including an explanation of how to access the Set-Up Menu. This is quite handy considering the number of functions on the On-Screen Display with icons that have meanings which are not immediately apparent to the eye.

Set-Up Menu

    The Sony DVP-NS300 has a nicely graphical Set-Up Menu that is easy to use, once you've accessed it with an operation that is not immediately obvious compared to other players I have used (pressing the Display button while it is in Stop mode). Options are included for configuring the manner in which the player handles DTS, Dolby Digital, and MPEG soundtracks.

Video Playback

    After I calibrated my display using The Ultimate DVD Platinum and adjusted the player's settings to my satisfaction, I put the DVP-NS300 to work on some of the best discs my collection contained.

    The image that the DSVP-NS300 produces is sharp and clear, with fine details being resolved well, and up there with the best I have seen in the lower DVD price ranges. Background details are slightly softer on this player than I am used to, but not so much so that it is really worth deducting points over. Video-sourced material, and other materials taken from an interlaced source, tended to show more aliasing artefacts on this player than normal, but they were otherwise rendered acceptably. The DVP-NS300 is not capable of passing an NTSC blacker-than-black signal.

    The DVP-NS300 is marked as a Zone 4 player, but I managed to make it play back my Region 1 Starship Troopers disc. I presume that this is a programming faux pas on Sony's part, and that production versions of this player will not play back any Region 1 discs, regardless of whether they are protected by RCE or not. The DVP-NS300 cannot play back RCE-protected discs such as Hollow Man, and I was unable to find a useable workaround in the brief period I spent attempting to perform this function. Modifications will doubtlessly be available for this player, but I presume that they will follow the set level of expense common to previous models released by Sony.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions on this player are reasonable, with three distinct speeds available, although not exactly helpfully marked in terms of how fast they are. From what I could discern, speeds of 2X, 3X, and 4X appear to be available, all of which are reasonably smooth, although the On Screen Display is a little less than helpful in discerning what mode is actually in use.

    Layer changes on this player result in a noticeable pause, slightly lengthier ones than I am used to seeing, as a matter of fact. The handling of layer changes was acceptable, given that no disc I tested locked up at this point, but the longer pause was a little too much for my liking.

On Screen Display

    The On Screen Display of the DVP-NS300 is rather spartan in its appearance, with two different buttons needing to be pushed in order to access information that can normally be accessed with a singular push of one button on my reference player. The On Screen Display does not feature any bitrate information, and the timing information has to be accessed using the Time/Text button. Thankfully, the Time/Text button will display such helpful information as the amount of time remaining in a title or chapter in addition to the time elapsed in either of these sections. Common subtitle languages such as English, Spanish, French, or Italian, are displayed with their full language names, and active subtitle streams such as the Stealing Stones feature on Snatch are displayed with the perplexing code "Others", while less common languages such as Hindi are displayed as unhelpful four-number codes.

Standards Conversions

    The Sony DVP-NS300 is not capable of any standards conversions for DVD.

CDR & Video CD

    The DVP-NS300 is not capable of playing back CD-Rs, which is certainly strange considering the climate of the current marketplace. Those who are considering this player for Video CD playback may well be advised to look elsewhere unless they intend to purchase pressed Video CDs, which this player can play back without any trouble.

Audio Playback

    I tested the audio playback capabilities of the Sony DVP-NS300 through its optical digital output.

    Subjectively, I found no discernable problems with this player's handling of soundtracks, although switching between soundtracks does tend to result in a slightly longer pause than I am used to. Common audio languages are also displayed with their full names in the On Screen Display, which makes selecting your language of choice a little less cryptic than is the case on numerous other players.

    I did not detect any audio sync issues with the numerous discs I tested on this player. The test with the R4 version of Pulp Fiction did not show any specific audio sync issues, nor did any other disc I tried with this player.

    MPEG audio streams can be converted into Linear PCM for those who do put possess an appropriate decoder. While this doesn't compare to the option of an internal decoder, it beats the stuffing out of the deafening silence that my reference player produces when it encounters an MPEG soundtrack.

Disc Compatibility Tests

Specific Tests
What Is Tested
Snatch R4 
Stealing Stones
Tests active subtitle feature and seamless branching.
Pulp Fiction R4 
Audio Sync
Opening scene tests audio sync.
Terminator: SE R4 
Menu Load
Tests ability to load complex menu
Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching
Tests ability to handle seamless branching (Chapter 3)
Hollow Man R1 
Tests ability to handle RCE protected DVDs in Auto multizone mode (if applicable).

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver


The Good Points
The Bad Points

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Inbuilt Decoder

In Closing

    The Sony DVP-NS300 is easily the most "no frills" player that can be found in the current marketplace, with no provision for playback of anything other than pressed Video CDs and DVD-Videos. While the lack of other functions may put off some customers, it is comforting to know that there are still players out there that do their primary task well, without any of their precious functions diverted to those other formats. Whether this marketing strategy works for Sony in the broader sense, however, remains to be seen. At a retail price of $499, sans any region modifications, this player certainly offers all the features the novice user needs at a very competitive and friendly price.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player
Region: Marked as Region 4 (South America/Australia)
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: AECP011657AU
MPEG Decoder: Sony CXD1933D
Audio Frequency Response: DVD (PCM 96 kHz): 2Hz - 44kHz (48kHz sampling)
DVD (PCM 48 kHz): 2Hz - 22Hz (96kHz sampling)
CD Audio: 2Hz - 20kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: 115dB (Line Out L/R (AUDIO) jacks 1, 2 only)
Dynamic Range: DVD: 103 dB
CD: 99 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 256 (d) x 74 (h) mm
Weight: 2.7 kg
Price: $499
Distributor: Sony Consumer Products Australia
33-39 Talavera Road 
North Ryde NSW 2113
Telephone: (02) 9887-6666

© Dean McIntosh
December 21, 2001