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July 17, 2008

Sony's BDP-S350 Blu-ray Player With BD-Live Now Shipping In The United States

6904-sonybdps350s550(2).jpgSony's BDP-S350 BD-Live Blu-ray player is now shipping in the United States. Aside from its BD-Live capabilities, the BDP-S350 is packed with some high-end features. Its startup time is only a few seconds thanks to a new quick-start mode, it's capable of upconverting standard-def content to full 1080p resolution, and utilizes Sony's proprietary Precision Drive HD can detect and correct wobbling discs for perfect playback of scratched or bent Blu-ray discs or DVD's. BD-Live updates, one of which is planned for later this year, are easily downloaded via a built-in ethernet port, also used for accessing interactive features on next-generation Blu-ray discs.

The BDP-S350 offers support for 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus decoding and bitstream output as well as DTS-HD and Master Audio bitstreaming. Most popular file formats are supported by the new Sony Blu-ray player including BD-R/RE (BDMV and BDAV modes), DVD+R/+RW, DVD-R/-RW, CD, CD-R/RW (CD-DA format), JPEG on DVD/CD and even AVCHD discs with x.v. Color technology which expands the data range of video 1.8 times allowing playback of a color spectrum close to what the human eye would see in the real world. Sony's BDP-350 is priced at around $400 and is available from Amazon.

Via Yahoo

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July 15, 2008

NEC Hints At Mass Blu-ray Player Price Drops In The Near Future

BD-UP5000_overhead(2).jpgJapan's NEC Corp. seem to be throwing themselves into the Blu-ray market with force, announcing they expect to double sales of its own Blu-ray products in the next couple of years. And not necessarily because Blu-ray is guaranteed to double in popularity, but because they plan to bring down the price of Blu-ray players thanks to their new BD Live-capable superchip. NEC forecasts that they'll own 40% of the Blu-ray chip market by March 2009, and grow that market share to over half by March 2011. With the new superchip pretty much guaranteed to bring down manufacturing costs of Blu-ray players, and trickling its way down the supply chain to result in cheaper Blu-ray players for us, NEC expects sales of about $378 million in the Blu-ray category by March 2011. The real question is whether or not NEC's new chip and competing superchips such as Panasonic's UniPhier will bring Blu-ray player prices below the $200 mark anytime soon. Until then, Blu-ray will remain nothing more than a niche product bought by only the most dedicated home theater fanatics.

Via Reuters

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July 13, 2008

NEC's BD Live Compatible Chip: Still Waiting For Cheaper Blu-ray Players

0801(2).jpgWhile we don't think anyone's too happy with the affordability of Blu-ray players these days, things look to be improving. Back in May, Panasonic announced their UniPhier 3 processor, a chip that fits all of Bluray's BD Live features. Announcements like this mean inevitable price decreases on end products thanks to cheaper manufacturing costs, and inevitable price decreases are further reinforced when competitor's come onto the scene.

NEC has now announced they've begun producing their EMMA3P chip for Blu-ray players that fits all of the BD Live features on one chip. Including H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2 compression, USB/ethernet/HDMI peripheral controls, picture-in-picture, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD audio playback, and even DivX on a single chip, NEC and Panasonic looked to have primed the Blu-ray "guts" market to set the base for cheaper Blu-ray players for none other than us.

Via NEC

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July 8, 2008

Pioneer Has Blu-ray Recorder Release Plans For 2008

sharp-bd-hdw20-blu-ray-recorder(2).jpgPioneer, maker of the famed KURO-brand plasma TV's, plans to have Blu-ray recorders on Japanese shelves before this year's holiday shopping season followed by overseas launches hopefully early next year. Pioneer will team up with Sharp Electronics, a big stakeholder in Pioneer and already an experienced maker of Blu-ray recorders. No prices or details regarding the new model or models have been released, but being from Pioneer we expect something impressive.

Blu-ray recorders are a big business in Japan. According to the Fuji Chimera Research Institute, demand for Blu-ray recorders in Japan is expected to be 3.6 million units in 2012, 18 times that of today.

Via Reuters

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July 7, 2008

Pioneer Comes Up With A 16-Layer 400GB Optical Disc, Possibly Compatible With Blu-ray

pioneer-disc_8agNM_54(2).jpgTo get the picture quality resulting from watching a Blu-ray disc, one of the overlooked but important variables is the amount of storage space on the disc itself. 25 GB is a heck of a lot to fit on one optical disc, but thanks to Pioneer it's now next to nothing. The company has just announced that they've produced a 16 layer, read-only optical disc with an astounding storage capacity of 400 GB. In the past it's been tough to obtain a clear signal from multi-layer discs but with Pioneer's new creation, the amount of noise has been reduced significantly. What might be of significance in the future is that the new discs have specs that are very similar to those of Blu-ray discs signaling possible compatibility. Pioneer plans to make a more formal announcement around the middle of July.

Via Gizmo Watch

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July 5, 2008

Sony: 27-Inch OLED TV's "Awfully Close" To Release

428678315_c023482bf1(2).jpgA couple days back at a dinner with reporters and industry analysts in San Francisco, Sony Electronics president and COO Stan Glasgow spilled all kinds of juicy details regarding the goings-on inside the company's home theater business. Perhaps most interesting was Glasgow's comment that Sony's 27-inch OLED TV is "awfully close" to becoming available commercially. First unveiled at CES back in January, the 27-inch OLED TV will be the successor to the 11-inch XEL-1, the world's first commercially available OLED television. The 27-incher is expected to be followed by a 40-inch model which will be impressive, but first Sony has to find ways to better automate OLED panel production, currently very labor intensive. With their recent $210 million investment into OLED production, we're sure this won't be an issue for too much longer.

OLED TV's weren't the only topics of interest discussed though. Here's a few more tidbits from Glasgow:

  • 90% of Sony's products will be wired or wireless by 2010
  • Expect more video services for Bravia LCD TV's by 2010
  • In the standalone Blu-ray player market, Sony has a 46% market share in units and 44% market share in dollars without the PS3. With the PS3 included, the company's Blu-ray market share sits somewhere between 95%-98%
  • Will Smith's Hancock will be offered up on Bravia TV's via the new Bravia Internet Video Link before it is released on DVD
  • Sony says they are increasing production of Blu-ray players to meet demand and are having no problems acquiring parts
  • To really see the difference between a Blu-ray disc and upconverted DVD you need a screen size of at least 40 inches, only improving as the screen size increases

Via Barrons

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Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray Player Gets Naked

bd30kinside1(2).jpgThe boys over at Format War Central have decided its time to really dig into the guts and soul of some of the standalone Blu-ray players sitting on shelves right now. A new series, appropriately named "Dissected", has chosen as its first victim Panasonic's DMP-BD30K. Featuring a UniPhier processor, this Profile 1.1 player features 24p video output, Dolby TrueHD bitstream output, and DTS-HD Master Audio among those features that stand out. Interestingly, the internals of the DMP-BD30K are pretty minimal which usually signifies the device's design and engineering are super-efficient, hopefully meaning price drops in the near future.

Image Credit: Format War Central

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July 2, 2008

Panasonic DMP-BD50 BD Live Blu-ray Player Now Available In United States

mainimage(2).jpgPanasonic's DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player, highly anticipated since CES 2008, and boasting some high-end features such as BD Live and internal DTS-HD audio decoding is finally starting to show up on shelves in the US. Nothing from any of the big box outlets yet, but it is available from 6th Ave from which you can order the DMP-BD50 through Amazon. You'll pay a high-end price for the enhanced features though. The anticipated $700 price tag was actually a little on the low end. 6th Ave has the BD Live player pinned at $749.

Via Blu-ray Stats (Photo Credit: Panasonic)

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June 12, 2008

Panasonic's DMP-BD50 BD-Live Blu-ray Player Reviewed

bd50(2).jpgThe prolific reviewers over at CNET have put Panasonic's DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player through the ringer and were definitely impressed. In fact, they've deemed it the "most recommendable standalone Blu-ray player to date", but added the Playstation 3 is still better and cheaper. The DMP-BD50 is the first standalone Profile 2.0, or BD Live, Blu-ray player on the market so far; only the Playstation 3 offers similar features. This means you'll be able to access internet-enabled features on some Blu-ray discs, but a lack of built-in memory means you'll need an SD card to do it. It's image quality when playing Blu-ray discs is excellent and it can decode all high-res soundtrack formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus output them in bitstream format if you want to let your AV receiver handle the decoding process.

The DMP-BD50 also has solid connectivity options including multichannel analog outputs for enjoying high-def audio with older receivers without HDMI. Speaking of HDMI, the DMP-BD50 is HDMI equipped so it'll playback 1080p picture resolution and high-def audio this route as well. It also features a component video output and and SDHC card slot that'll playback MP3s, JPEGs and even AVCHD video from high-def camcorders.

Sounds good so far, but what are the downsides of the DMP-BD50? A couple of performance issues include sub-par DVD playback and a slow operational speed when compared with the $400 Playstation 3. And probably the most important downside? The pricetag: $700.

Via CNET

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June 9, 2008

Microsoft Finally Showing Off A Blu-ray Xbox 360 Tomorrow? (Yawn)

scaledblu-ray-logo-4001.jpgBloody hell! The rumors are flying around again. CrunchGear received a tip yesterday from a "close friend" of a Microsoft employee hinting that the company is planning to issue a press release today at 9 AM PDT confirming that the "Xbox 360 will get Blu-ray before Christmas". As for pricing, it'll be supposedly "under the current Elite".

Given that these rumors have flown before, only to be denied by Microsoft each time, this is kind of tough to believe. I guess we'll find out later this morning, but judging by a SFGate article also from yesterday, if this one's true Microsoft is holding its cards close. In an interview with Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, SFGate reports Bach as saying that the company believes Xbox Live is an effective way to deliver high-definition content to consumers and when it comes to the Blu-ray format, "most people look at it and say, "I am not going to pay extra for that."" And Blu-ray in the next-generation Xbox? "There is nothing to even talk about right now with regard to the next generation. That is so far out that there isn't anything to talk about."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and call the CrunchGear tipster a fake. Keep your eyes out for a press release at 9 AM PDT and feel free to give me a hard time if I'm wrong.

Justin Davey at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

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