LAS VEGAS —
Sharp Electronics (booth 10916) will use International CES to announce a trio of enhanced Blu-ray Disc players that the company has renamed “media stations” to play up their advanced connectivity benefits.
“We are on a mission to recreate the Blu-ray player for the customer to increase their experience with componentry that they already possess and to add to the value of the Blu-ray player,” said Bob Pleyer, Sharp Blu-ray senior marketing manager. “We are trying to do something more than just add connected services.”
The company’s Aquos Blu-ray media stations for 2012 will all be 3D compatible, and include Aquos Pure Mode circuitry that automatically detects when a compatible Sharp Aquos TV is connected and makes color, clarity and contrast adjustments to optimize the picture for that TV model’s screen.
Another common feature is Sharp’s Super Picture mode for 1080p up-conversion that works on both DVDs and streaming video content.
Sharp is also expanding its assortment of service partners to include Tera TV Spanish language programming. This joins the stable of YouTube, HuluPlus, Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu and other apps for key services, including Facebook.
The players and many of Sharp’s 2012 TVs will also have a new graphical user interface called Smart Central, which provides an easier way to navigate through connected services and through other content available through the DLNA complaint devices on the in-home network.
This year’s stepup players will include DLNA connectivity and software from Twonky that enables computer and mobile applications to easily play personal and online music, photos and videos between connected PCs, TVs, stereos and other devices.
Every model in 2012 will have front and rear USB ports and will accept USB-connected hard drives for add-on storage.
This takes on additional functionality, considering that in 2012 a number of studios will start making digital downloads of purchased movies available through the new UltraViolet initiative and other systems.
The entry BDAMS10U is billed as a Wi-Fi-ready Blu-ray player, requiring an optional Wi-Fi USB dongle to connect with a Wi-Fi network.
The step-up BDAMS20U ships with a USB Wi-Fi dongle in the box, and includes the Mobile HD Link (MHDL) that lets users connect iOS and Android phones and tablets to the TV to view content available through the phone on the living room big screen.
The top-of-the-line BDAMS30U, which will ship late in the second quarter, adds to the BDAMS20U feature package an uncompressed 60GHz wave length wireless HDMI output solution, which will enable a wireless connection between the TV and the media station. The player will ship with a wireless HDMI receiver that connects to the one of the TV’s HDMI inputs to complete the connection.
Sharp could not disclose which wireless HDMI format the system will use at this time or if it will sell additional HDMI receivers as an option.
The BDAMS10 and BDAMS20 will ship in the March/April time frame. Pricing on all three Aquos Blu-ray media stations will be announced later.