By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sony recently unveiled for dealers and press at its line show here a new dedicated Blu-ray Disc player, priced to sell for around $600.
Model BDP-S300 will be Sony's second stand-alone BD player, joining the BDP-S1, which was introduced last December at a $999.99 suggested retail. The new player, which will ship in early summer, is positioned to sell for about the same price as Sony's step-up PlayStation3 video game console.
The The BDP-S300 will deliver full 1,080p resolution over its HDMI v1.3 output at 24 frames per second. It will also up convert images to 1,080p format. HD component video outputs are also added for older HDTV displays.
Sony said the player will support forthcoming AVC-HD discs encoded with xvYCC technology that expands the available color gamut 1.8 times. Also included is the BRAVIA Theater Sync system that uses HDMI connectivity to integrate the operation of a series of connected BRAVIA components through a single remote.
Other features include multichannel linear PCM digital audio output via HDMI and Dolby Digital Plus decoding.
"A year ago I talked about us changing the question we answer with our product from 'What do you want to buy?' to 'What do you want to do?'" said Jay Vandenbree, Sony Electronics sales president. "What you see today is what consumers asked for and what we've solved ... Consumers trust us [enough] to spend their discretionary money [on something] to turn their down time into up time … That's what we provide. That's why we are the No. 1 brand in the country and that's why consumers trust us."
As an example, Vandenbree highlighted Sony's efforts to deliver compelling products that deliver the Blu-ray Disc high-definition TV experience. Vandenbree pointed to a wall of more than 160 Blu-ray Disc movies, including 19 of the top 20 box office hits this past year.
"It's not about what consumers want to buy," Vandenbree said. "It's what they want to do, and they want to watch those top movies, and they want to see them in high definition."
Randy Waynick, Sony Electronics home products division senior VP, said that Sony "is trying to rise above the talk of format wars" this year. "Very simply, we are trying to figure out what consumers want to do, both in what they are telling the retailers and what they are actually going out there and purchasing. The Blu-ray story is exciting for Sony because we came in and started at the very end of November and beginning of December and immediately have taken 50 percent dollar share and 40 percent unit share in the Blu-ray format."
Waynick said Blu-ray Disc software is consistently outselling the competing format on about a three-to-one basis. In hardware, Sony will look to maintain its momentum with the new lower-priced player that will "bring more people into the business," Waynick said.
Support is also included for BD-ROM, BD-Java, AVC-HD, DVD video, CD audio, MP3 audio files and JPEG photo files stored on DVD recordable media, including the DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW formats.
Sony also said it plans to introduce a third player — the BDP-S500 — as a step up to the BDP-S300. Exact features and pricing will be announced later in the year.
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