August 17, 2010

Budget Blu-ray Review - Soniq QBP301B

How good can a cheap Blu-ray player be? The answer might surprise you. In this case, very good.

Soniq is JB Hifi's "home brand." They are low cost value-oriented electronics products. I purchased this to replace a much more expensive Sony DVD player which cost about five times a much. I have a John Mayer music DVD that displayed as black and white on the Sony, but with the Soniq it actually has colour! I've also noticed less problems with scratched DVDs.

Picture and sound quality

No complaints here. I won't say too much in this area since I haven't performed any critical comparisons to other units, but I'll say this much - it's very capable in both areas.

Remote control

This is nearly always the weak point. The remote is obviously cheap. The layout isn't too bad, but there are a few annoying aspects. The response is a little sluggish - often resulting in pressing a button more than once. Also the volume control is very tedious to use. You can't hold it down but each press reduces the volume by 1%. So if the volume isn't close to correct, you often have to press the volume button 50 times.

Multi region

It's very handy to have a multi region player, both for Blu-ray and DVD. This means you can buy cheap discs from overseas, and often it's simple to convert a player to multiregion. At the time of writing (August 2010), no such hacks are available. This unit will only play local DVDs and Blu-ray discs. This may change, but there's a good chance this player will never support multi region. If that's an issue for you, keep looking.

Inputs and outputs

You will find everything you expect here except perhaps multi channel outputs. Those who want to set up a budget HT surround system without a receiver should keep looking. Optical and coax digital outputs are provided.

There is also support for a memory stick in a USB slot. That means you can view photos, captured video (TV etc). Compatibility isn't guaranteed, and external hard drivers may or may not work. This is unfortunate as one could use a PC digital TV tuner to record TV then play it back via the Blu-ray player. This works out as a very cheap PVR system.

Basic use

With Blu-ray discs, the unit starts up quite quickly, but one source of irritation is ejecting discs. After powering up, it takes quite a while to eject, and often starts playing the disc even after the eject button has been pressed. Another gripe is that it lacks memory. With the Sony, I could watch part of a movie, eject the disc and watch another then in a few days put the first disc back in. It would resume from where it last played. The Soniq remembers the position for a very short period. If you have an "intermission" in the middle of a movie, chances are the spot has already been lost. You end up having to pause rather than stop.


Overall it's a capable player. It looks decent and has no major issues or problems. While there are a few minor complaints, at the price it does all that you can expect.

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