Our friends over at HD Guru are reporting that next month Sony will slash $100 off the list price of their diminutive BDP-S350 Blu-ray player and sell it for $300. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Damn! I just bought that player for my brother and payed full price!]. This is a little startling, because the BDP-S350 was just introduced in July. A price cut this soon almost makes you wonder if it signals a problem (or panic) in the Blu-ray world.
In any case, the BDP-S350, particularly at this new price, is an attractive offering. It supports BonusView (picture-in-picture), and is also BD-Live ready, with an Ethernet port for firmware updates and access to Internet-based interactive content features. It also offers an external port for local storage for BD-Live, allowing users to add an optional flash storage device (sold separately). Sony is planning a firmware update enabling BD-Live later this year.
Answering the prayers of many BD users, the BDP-S350 also features quick start up mode, improving the player’s boot up time to approximately a few seconds. The player uses Sony’s new Precision Cinema HD Upscale technology that converts standard-definition signals (480i) to 1080p and outputs a full HD equivalent resolution signal to 1080p TVs via HDMI. Additionally, it uses Sony’s new Precision Drive HD, which helps to detect and correct wobbling discs from three directions, stabilizing playback of bent or scratched Blu-ray and DVD discs. Last but not least, the player uses 21% less power consumption in playback mode and 43% reduced power consumption in stand-by mode.
And now the social commentary....
This price drop might be the first of 18 million cracks in the Blu-ray ceiling, and the start of the long-anticipated drop in Blu-ray pricing overall. Everyone remembers that DVD really took off when prices tumbled, and many are waiting to commit to BD until it follows suit. We have already heard Funai will cut $50 off the price of its players (under the Philips/Magnavox, Insignia and Sylvania brands) to $250 to stay competitive with Sony.
On the other hand, maybe this price drop was just a small bit of strategic housing cleaning; the drop makes way for a higher end Sony Blu-ray player, the BDP-S550, priced at $399 in October.
In any case, what the Blu-ray world really needs is a price drop on the the discs themselves. Think about how much you spend on a player. Now think about the total investment in that shelf full of discs. —Ken C. Pohlmann
In case you're interested, here's some extra tech stuff:
The BDP-S350 offers 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus decoding and bit-stream output, as well as DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and Master Audio bit-stream output.
The BDP-S350 supports AVCHD discs encoded with x.v.Color (xvYCC) technology, an international standard for wide color space reproduction. The standard expands the current data range of video by about 1.8 times, allowing the players to output more natural and vivid colors similar to what the human eye actually sees in the natural world.
The player also features compatibility with an array of video formats, including BD-R/RE (BDMV and BDAV modes), DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, CD, CD-R/RW (CD-DA format), and JPEG on DVD/CD recordable media.
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