Sony Announces their Next Generation Blu-ray Players

Posted by Dave Cowl on February 26, 2008 
Filed Under: Blu-ray, Format War

BDP-S550.jpgSony has announced their next generation Blu-ray players for release later in 2008. Both new models will be capable of accessing advanced interactive features such as BonusView and BD-Live.

The BDP-S350 and BDP-S550 models will both support BonusView (Picture-in-Picture) featured on some of the new Blu-ray Disc releases. The BDP-S350 model will be BD-Live ready featuring an Ethernet port for an easy firmware update and access to Internet-based interactive content features. The BSP-S550 will ship BonusView and BD-Live capable.

Both models also feature an external port for local storage, so users can add optional storage device, however the BDP-S550 will ship with a 1GB storage device. Both players will feature 1080/60p and 24p True Cinema output.

Both players will feature 7.1 channel Dolby(R) TrueHD and Dolby(R) Digital Plus decoding and bit-stream output, as well as dts(R)-HD High Resolution Audio and Master Audio bit-stream output. The BDP-S550 will add dts-HD High Resolution Audio and dts-HD Master Audio decoding as well as 7.1 channel analog audio output.

Both players will support AVCHD discsand also feature 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.

The new BDP-S350 ships this summer for about $400 and BDP-S550 will be available this fall for about $500.

Via Blu-ray Stats 

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  1. Sony to Release Home Entertainment Server with Blu-ray Disc Burner Included


19 Responses to “Sony Announces their Next Generation Blu-ray Players”

  1. krisk on February 26th, 2008 2:05 am

    If this player bitstreams, it the perfect fit for my Onkyo 705! This seems like a better choice than the new Panasonic.

  2. Blue_On_Blue on February 26th, 2008 8:33 am

    The prices aren’t that bad, but could be a bit more competitive to win over HD DVD supporters. While the both systems sound impressive, they are still in its infancy (even up to its 3rd generation release).

    I didn’t read anything mentioning of BD 2.0 or DTS-MA 7.1 decoding. If the prices are indicative because we have only one major player for HD contents (Blu-ray), I can see how prices for Blu-ray movies will skyrocket now, for example, I’ve just learn that “Saawariya” on Blu-ray is selling for nearly $40.00 U.S. dollars!

    May the price hikes begin…

  3. Dave Cowl on February 26th, 2008 9:35 am

    BD Live is BD 2.0. Both will be capable though the 350 will be upgraded after launch.

    dts-HD Master Audio is DTS-MA – decoding is featured on the 550 model only.

  4. Tim on February 26th, 2008 11:35 am

    So, you’re basically paying $100 for a built-in (and presumably non-upgradeable) 1 GB of storage? That’s just good business sense: a $100 sucker tax on the ones who “have to have” the “best” model.

    Here’s hoping they support SD cards, and not their proprietary MemoryStick.

    Also, there’s still no reason not to get the PS3 instead, so the price for the 350 will probably float down to $300.

    I’m definitely not going to get a Blu-ray player until they dip below $250 for a Profile 2.0 player. Most likely, I’ll wait for a Black Friday $200 player.

    Also, I’m not spending more than $20 on a Blu-ray Disc.

  5. Dave Cowl on February 26th, 2008 11:43 am

    The 550 has the Master Audio codecs and 7.1 analog outputs. It is primarily for folks like myself that need the audio decoded in player – the 350 is for those who have a new HDMI amp with the decoders built in.

    Plus, since the 550 is released as a BDLive it is mandated to have the 1GB of storage. Both models feature expandable storage – that is clearly noted in the article.

  6. Jesterrace on February 26th, 2008 12:52 pm

    Glad to see that Blu-Ray is committed to lowering the price-tag on their players to make them a truly viable option. I realize this is just Sony but considering the fact that about 80-85% of the Blu-Ray players currently in use are made by them (including the PS3), it just doesn’t bode very well for those of us who are used to spending much less. So much for the announcement about the cheaper diodes last year.

  7. Blue_On_Blue on February 26th, 2008 2:19 pm


    Thanks for the additional information. I’ll be reviewing the specs carefully in addition to waiting for industry experts and others to report on these units’ testing results. I’m also heading down to Hollywood Video to grab what I can find on HD DVDs.

    @ Tim

    I agree; it would be nice not having any proprietary memory slots.

  8. Dave Cowl on February 26th, 2008 2:20 pm

    It certainly seems that Toshiba’s ‘sell at a loss’ approach has created customers that would not be interested at a more realistic price.

    Personally I would prefer that everyone makes their fair profits, and the business stays viable, and succeeds.

    I am sure eventually the prices will reach ‘HD DVD fire sale’ pricing…

  9. Blue_On_Blue on February 26th, 2008 5:28 pm

    @ Dave

    With that said, perhaps the reluctance by consumers not adapting to any format during the “format war” has left many very weary and cautious. It may be safe to assume that those who were not encouraged toward any format were finally propelled into buying a HD-DVD because of Toshiba’s price cuts. That stigma may remain especially when you look at Toshiba’s top-of-the-line model that sold for significantly less compared to Sony’s before Warner’s announcement.

  10. Juan on February 26th, 2008 10:07 pm

    I agree. With HD DVD leaving the picture Blu can charge what ever they want for their players and it is almost certain that some movies will remain in the mid 30′s price range. With no competition to pressure them to lower prices this is an OBVIOUS move to keep the Playstation 3 as Sony’s most economical choice for Blu-ray playback. The same selfish ambitions Sony has to win a console war by forcing a new format onto a gaming system are still ongoing, they are just ever-changing. Sony has taken a huge financial loss from PS3 manufacturing costs which they will make back through the sale of new Blu-ray players that are priced too high to make back the money. While still keeping the Playstation 3 as their cheaper Blu-ray option it is clear that Sony is trying to hold onto any advantage they have in the console war – even if that means that no first party hardware could potentially steal sales from their video game console. I remember reading in several news stories recently that costs of Blu-ray hardware has dropped and that manufacturing costs should be dropping soon. BULLCRAP! Where? 400 & 500 DOLLAR PLAYERS THIS FALL? Because of Sony’s selfishness I would recommend boycotting the PS3 if anyone out there is opting to purchase it as a Blu-ray player because that machine is the reason ALL other Blu-ray players are expensive. I’d rather buy the Toshiba HD-DVD player at Costco for $75 with video upconversion, HDMI & 7 free movies.
    But seriously, when are a majority of Blu-ray players going to hit below $300? I’m guessing around the time Sony lowers the price of the PS3.

  11. Dave Cowl on February 26th, 2008 10:15 pm

    If Sony are taking a loss on PS3′s, you should encourage as many people as you know to buy as many of them as possible to maximise the losses for Sony.

    I am curious though as to why you think Sony controls this market when there are players from Sharp, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Philips… Surely one of them could make a cheaper player?

    Perhaps the reality of player costs is behind the prices of the players? It has been pretty clear to me that the relationship between the cost of and HD DVD player and the price of an HD DVD player has not been a strong one for quite some time.

  12. Jesterrace on February 26th, 2008 10:30 pm

    Maybe because 3/4 of the existing Blu-Ray players in homes are in fact PS3s. Furthermore the latest standalone specs that were posted on this site within the last month or so showed that Sony had the largest marketshare of any of the companies when it came to high-def sales. I think that one could conservatively estimate that 80% off all Blu-Ray players in homes are in fact Sony (between the PS3 and their standalone sales). Furthermore we all know that Blu-Ray would quickly go the way of HD-DVD if Sony suddenly decided to quit manufacturing the PS3. The same would not be true if Sharp, Samsung, Panasonic, ect. all announced that they would no longer be making players.

  13. Dave Cowl on February 26th, 2008 10:47 pm

    So, which part of that makes it impossible for one of these manufacturers from making a player cheaper than a PS3? This is the part I am missing…

  14. Jonsson on February 26th, 2008 11:40 pm

    It’s amasing that people seems to not yet have realised that the low Toshiba prices where due to them SELLING AT A LOSS in a desperate attempt to win the market.

    Blu-ray prices will surely go down (just as DVD players and recorders did) but at a more realistic speed.

    If the HD-DUD format would have won the low prices of the Toshiba players would not have lasted very long.

  15. Dave Cowl on February 27th, 2008 12:46 am

    I doubt that HD DVD could raise player prices after establishing a ‘value’ for the technology. They would have had to tolerate the losses up until they get the costs side down to match, and made it up on movie sale royalties if possible.

  16. Juan on February 27th, 2008 11:11 am

    Sharp, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Philips & LG will most likely drop thier Blu-Ray players around/below the $300 dollar mark first. Probably in the face of all the sales going to the PS3 which does more than just play movies. I don’t see Sony releasing a stand alone Blu-Ray player that would sell for a whole lot cheaper than a PS3. They want to win this console war so bad (and they probably will in a few years) that having a Sony Blu-Ray player for $300-250 would be a threat to any potential sales from their own PS3. They just announced a $500 PS3(80GB)Metal Gear bundle for this April & a $500 stand alone player this fall. With news stories about cheaper Blu-ray manufacturing costs floating around the net, I wonder if these players are priced this high to make back from the PS3′s losses or is BonusView & BD-Live really that expensive to incorporate into the next generation of Blu-Ray players. I can see the older Sony Blu-ray players (that do not support these features or 1080/60p and 24p True Cinema output) retailing for close to $300 later on this year but that’s because once they sell out they will no longer be manufactured. Outdated hardware leaves the market when new models from the same company are released, especially models that take advantage of all these great new extra features that have become the new standard. Thus, the strategy on Sony’s behalf is to keep the prices of all their Blu-Ray products around the same range so that people would see the PS3 as more of a bargain. This is their golden opportunity to sneak consoles in the homes of those who want a Blu-Ray player so later on down the line these customers have the option to support SCEA/PS3 software. Sony can make more money off of a $60 game instead of the consumer going out and buying a hollywood movie (which means less profit for them). With all this going on, I forsee all the other companies dropping the prices of thier own Blu-Ray players first. Once Sharp, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Philips & LG start making some decent sales on thier cheaper stand alone players Sony will follow behind and with thier own price drop. If I sound bitter: it is only because I wouldn’t mind owning the Sony (BDP-S550) stand alone player but I also know why I’d be paying so much for it this fall.

  17. Jonsson on February 27th, 2008 12:45 pm

    @Dave, selling players at a huge loss whas one of the major reasons that caused them to have to give up in the first place. Most of their players (as well as their disks) where sold “on sale”.

    There is no way that they could have sustained that kind of “buissness”. If they would have won, which they luckily didn’t, they would have had to raise prices back to normal level or go bust.

  18. Jason Kenyon on February 27th, 2008 5:21 pm

    It’s funny how these players have about the same specs and price as HD DVD players 2 years ago.

  19. Dave Cowl on February 27th, 2008 6:00 pm

    There was a 1080p 24 fps capable HD DVD players 2 years ago?

    Which one was that?

    I thought the 1080p HD DVD player was more like $1000… and had no 24 fps capability…?

    And of course launched with everything else HD DVD somewhat later in 2006 than February…!?

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