Sony said Monday it is bringing out a cheaper player for Blu-ray discs early this summer, a crucial step in its battle to make the high-definition format the replacement for DVDs.
The BDP-S300 will cost $599, yet will have the same capabilities as the $999 BDP-S1 Sony is currently selling, said Randy Waynick, senior vice president of the home products division of Sony Electronics.
Sony and Samsung, which also makes a Blu-ray player, have been undersold by Toshiba's players for the rival HD DVD format. Toshiba has a model on the market for $499.
However, sales of players for either format have been tepid, as consumers have stood back, waiting for the market to settle on one of the discs.
Most people buying high-definition discs are apparently doing so to play them on PlayStation 3 game consoles. There are two versions of the console, for $499 and $599, and Sony sold 1.8 million units last year.
The BDP-S300 is a smaller unit than the BDP-S1, and is about the same size as a DVD player. Like the current model, it will be able to output a signal in the highest high-definition format (1080p) through an HDMI connection. The player supports various video formats, including MPEG2, MPEG4-AVC and VC1. It will also be able to play CDs, which the BDP-S1 does not.
For those who own an HDTV set without HDMI, an analog component output for 1080i (interlaced) is available as well. The model also supports AVC-HD discs encoded with xvYCC technology, a new international standard for wide color space, which Sony has branded as x.v.Color.
The new BD unit incorporates BRAVIA Theater Sync utilizing HDMI connectivity, which integrates the operation of the player with a compatible BRAVIA flat-panel LCD television or audio/video receiver. With the touch of a button, you can automatically turn on and switch inputs matching connected devices.
Additionally, the player offers multi-channel linear PCM digital audio output via HDMI, and can decode Dolby Digital Plus, providing surround sound to an appropriately equipped receiver. The unit has optical and coaxial digital audio out, along with 5.1 channel decoding capability for backward compatibility with existing receivers.
The player supports BD-ROM, BD-Java, AVC-HD and DVD playback from DVD/DVD+R/+RW encoded discs, CD playback, as well as MP3 audio files and JPEG images stored on DVD recordable media.
Sony has previously complained that DVD players became a commodity product too soon, and that it was hard to make a profit in a market dominated by $50 units. Glasgow predicted that Blu-ray players would take the same route.