Costing less than £70, the SD-360E is one of the cheapest upscaling DVD players around. Using scaling and de-interlacing technology, the player can take a standard-resolution DVD picture and 'upconvert' it to 720p or 1080i, which it then outputs to an HD-ready TV via an HDMI cable. The idea is that you get a sharper picture with more detail -- not quite up to proper hi-def standards, but better than regular DVD images.
Like most new DVD players, this is also compatible with CDs, including those featuring MP3 audio, JPEG photos or DivX-encoded movies. It is surround-sound compatible too, but only when it outputs to an AV amp via its coaxial digital connection -- there are no built-in Dolby Digital or DTS decoders here.
You don't expect top class build quality for £80, and you don't get it here. The player feels slightly lightweight and tinny, and you get the impression it wouldn't react well to being dropped. The disc drawer is also flimsy. On the plus side, it's a very slim player measuring just 42mm in height, so you won't have too much trouble finding a spot for it in your living room.
There's a basic LED display at the front, including an indicator that tells you which upscaling mode you're using -- 576p, 720p or 1080i. You also get a blue power light, which doesn't really tell you anything but looks cool. Overall, the styling is reasonably attractive -- it doesn't look shamefully cheap and nasty, but it won't have you boasting to your buddies either.
Button layout is straightforward. There's nothing to confuse you on the player itself, just an on/off button and controls for basic playback.
Moving round to the back, the connection selection is pretty standard for a cheap DVD player, with the exception of the HDMI output. The other options are progressive-scan-compatible component video, an RGB Scart and standard composite video. Things are very basic on the audio side -- there's just analogue stereo phono and coaxial digital. Unfortunately, there's no sign of an optical digital output. The HDMI connection, which can carry both video and audio, is on paper by far the best on offer -- as long as you have the right input on your television or projector.
Like the player, the remote control is pleasingly compact -- in fact it's a lot smaller than most DVD remotes. The tiny buttons are well laid out, with the essentials playback and menu controls stuck right in the middle where you'd expect them.