Sony DVP-NS305 DVD Player

     When I hear the word "Sony", I immediately think of the quality of the hardware they offer at relatively cheap price points. The previous model that I reviewed, the DVP-NS300, disappointed me with the quality of its interior and exterior, looking much more like a cheap Chinese player than the solid but unremarkable builds I normally expect of Sony products. The DVP-NS305, however, was shipped to us as a pre-production model, and it was quite interesting just to have a look at the quality of Sony's newest "entry-level" player. This new model is quite a step up from the previous incarnation, and provides a very attractive option to those wanting to get a good player for the lowest possible price.

What's In The Box

    Because this is actually a pre-production model, a lot less than is normally included in the box was provided to us by Sony. Within the box, we found:

    Presumably, additional items will accompany this player when purchased at retail.

    The interior of the NS305 is very space-efficient, and it is one of the better internal layouts one can find in this price range.

    The NS305 is only available in silver.

Front Panel

    The DVP-NS305 features a very stylish, but very spartan front panel. From left to right, we have:

    Almost everything that the user needs to make this player work is present on the front panel, although it cannot be meaningfully operated without a remote control. This will disappoint some users, no doubt. However, the front panel is much more pleasant to look at and more efficiently spaced than that of its predecessor, the NS300.

Rear Panel

    The Sony DVP-NS305 features a fairly standard rear panel with everything the basic user needs in order to get started. In left to right order, we have:

    As is the case with all the previous Sony DVD players I have seen to date, the top panel of the player features markings to show where the outputs are located, so that the cables can possibly be connected without a clear view of the rear panel. This is an excellent feature that I wish more players would incorporate. All in all, this is a very good rear panel that makes connecting your display to the player very easy.

Remote Control

    The player that we were sent did not have a remote control specifically geared for it. Instead, we were sent a remote control that appears to be designed for the control of a DVD-Video player, SACD player, and television set all at once. As a result, a lot of the functions that I found on this remote were of no use whatsoever in controlling the player, and accessing some functions such as the Set-Up menu were a little more challenging than normal.

    One comment I can make about this remote, however, is that the player was much quicker in responding to inputs from it than was the case with the previous player I looked at, the Philips DVD-736K.


Remote supplied with review unit

Production remote


    Because a manual was not supplied with this player, it was impossible to evaluate its quality. However, I have a fair amount of confidence that the manual which will be supplied with this player will follow the usual Sony standard of being well laid-out and easy to follow.

Set-Up Menus

    The Set-Up menu uses a simple graphical interface with a series of icons down the left, and the relevant options to the right. The Set-Up menu was a breeze and a delight to use, as is normally the case with Sony DVD players.

    Options can be set for default audio and subtitle languages, as well as what is done with MPEG and DTS soundtracks. By default, the former is set to be converted into 48 kHz Linear PCM, while the latter is turned off. Having turned DTS soundtracks on, I immediately went to work testing the player's digital output capabilities, which was quite a lot of fun in and of itself. However, suffice it to say that owners of early Roadshow discs will be glad that this player handles MPEG soundtracks.

Video Playback

    Once I had made some minor adjustments to my display unit and connected the DVP-NS305 via the S-video output, I began playing several discs with the output set to 16x9 and a number of discs ready for a good spin.

    The DVP-NS305 produces a fine, detailed image that, while not anywhere near the oil-painting, smooth-as-silk look of the Denon DVD-1600, is one of the best I have seen in the entry-level price range. Small details are resolved well by this player, although they do appear a little smudged on occasions. The colours were quite pure and well-rendered, and this player should satisfy all but the most fussy of videophiles. The DVP-NS305 is also capable of passing an NTSC blacker-than-black signal, which should please anyone with a lot of Region 1 titles.

    The DVP-NS305 is marked as a Region 4 player, but I managed to make it play my standard R1 copy of Léon: The Professional with only a slight video hiccough as the player changed signal standards. Not only that, but I obtained the same results with my RCE-protected copy of Hollow Man. Whether this will continue with production versions of the player is yet to be seen, but it is encouraging.

    The fast forward and fast reverse keys had to be held in to work, with the player fast forwarding as long as the button was held in at an approximate 2X speed. I was not able to make it fast forward any faster than this, although this might have to do with how the function is implemented. These functions are of good smoothness, and the manner in which they are implemented makes it far easier than normal to simply forward or reverse to a specific point.

    Layer changes resulted in a minor pause that, while noticeable, was perfectly acceptable.

On Screen Display

    The On-Screen Display is little more than text on a blue bar across the top of the screen, which displays Time Elapsed, Time Remaining, Chapter Elapsed, and Chapter Remaining with each subsequent push. While I still far prefer the all-in-one-screen arrangement of Toshiba players, this On-Screen Display is enough to pass the basic requirement of showing what the basic user wants to know. Note, however, that there is no bitrate display included.

    When I tested the number of languages the DVP-NS305 was able to handle, using my copy of Friday The 13th, Part V, I was disappointed to find that it only provided full language names for approximately half of the subtitle streams. All of the other languages were displayed as patently unhelpful four-digit numbers, which will be quite annoying to those who speak languages other than the Western European tongues that the player appears to have been geared towards. If your native language happens to be English, Spanish, Italian, or French, then you will not have a problem with selecting your preferred subtitle or audio stream via the On-Screen Display. Otherwise, you will need to memorise the numeric code for your preferred language.

Standards Conversions

    The Sony DVP-NS305 does not appear to be capable of any standards conversions for DVD, although this was hard to verify given the absence of a manual.

CDR & Video CD

    The Sony DVP-NS305 can play back CD-Rs and Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I tested the NS305 via its coaxial digital output and encountered no problems.

    After watching the opening scene in Pulp Fiction, I was amazed to see that the usual wandering sync that characterizes players that will trouble those of us who are more sensitive to the problem was nowhere to be found here. Indeed, the objective audio sync test put the analogue versus digital delay at 0.6 milliseconds, which is consistent with even the most sensitive among us not noticing any problem. I know I certainly didn't.

    The DVP-NS305 is capable of downconverting MPEG bitstreams into 48 kHz Linear PCM, which is as ideal a solution as can be expected of a player without 5.1 channel analogue outputs. DTS soundtracks can either be switched on or off via the Set-Up menu.

MP3 Playback

    The Sony DVP-NS305 is very serviceable in the area of MP3 playback. It passed all four of the stringent tests we have for this function with flying colours. The only problem I have with this function is that when the MP3 files in a given directory are read, they are sorted well out of their numerical order, with Disc 4 Track 17 appearing after Disc 4 Track 18-20, and so forth. Aside from this minor problem, however, there is little about this side of the player that I can object to.
Test Disc Format Results
110 MP3s in 5 subdirectories Found all files
110 MP3s in root directory Found all files
128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, 320 Kb/s, and Variable Bit Rate Played all four files
Multisession CD-R (4 sessions, each with one added MP3) Found all four sessions

Disc Compatibility Tests 

Specific Tests
What Is Tested
Snatch R4
Stealing Stones
Tests active subtitle feature, seamless branching, ability to load hybrid DVD/DVD-ROM and audio sync.
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).
RoboCop: SE R4
Non-Seamless Branching
Tests ability to play the director's cut of RoboCop without showing excessive pauses.

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver
Zoom Unknown


    It is hard to break things down into specific good and bad points when the player provided does not come with the complete retail packaging, but there are some things that can be detailed here:

The Good Points
The Bad Points

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion ?None
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    Sony could well be onto a winner in the entry-level market with the DVP-NS305, as it certainly outperforms much of the competition in this segment. While it does not play DVD-Video quite as smoothly as the X-Box, it does play a wider variety of software without a hiccough. It is very interesting to note that this player would happily play back Region 1 discs, without or without RCE, but even without this feature, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better player for this price.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD, Audio CD and MP3 player
Region: Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America)
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: DPX-1600SM(ME5) *Sample*
MPEG Decoder: Sony CXD19350
Audio Frequency Response: TBD
Signal to Noise Ratio: TBD
Dynamic Range: TBD
Total Harmonic Distortion: TBD
Dimensions: TBD
Weight: TBD
Price: $449
Distributor: Sony Consumer Products Australia 
33-39 Talavera Road 
North Ryde NSW 2113
Telephone: (02) 9887-6666

© Dean McIntosh
15th July 2002