Sony's US$600 Blu-ray player in detail

More attractive aesthetics, features, and price set new model player apart from its predecessor

At Sony's Open House event Tuesday in Las Vegas, the company showed its second-generation Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S300, due out this summer.

A more attractive price isn't the only thing that sets the new Sony Blu-ray player apart from the current model. I got a look at the new player, and noticed several differences, cosmetic and otherwise.

The player is much slimmer than Sony's current model, the BDP-S1. It also lacks the mirrored front found on the BDP-S1, and it has improved button design on the front panel (for example, the power and eject buttons are still near the top of the unit, but these are now softer and easier to press, as opposed to the annoying, hard-to-press slim metallic buttons now found on the BDP-S1.

Other improvements: the BDP-S300 adds support for playing audio CDs and decoding Dolby Digital Plus audio; and it integrates Sony's new Bravia Theater Sync technology for synchronizing compatible Bravia devices (including LCD televisions introduced today, and new audio/video receivers). Like the BDP-S1, the BDP-S300 doesn't support advanced audio compression technologies Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master; it only supports the core audio stream contained within those two codecs.

By contrast, the BDP-S1 has a boxier, sturdier design; Sony says its chassis has been built with reinforcements specific to home theater use, including a rigid frame and beam construction and off-center feet to reduce vibration.

The current BDP-S1 also has dedicated boards inside for audio and video processing; Sony is confirming how the inside of the BDP-S300 is designed, and we will update this space once we have this information.

The two devices have similar remote controls. The BDP-S300's remote is black; the existing model's is silver with blue accents.

The BDP-S300 is the first dedicated Blu-ray device priced by its manufacturer for sale at US$600; Sony's four-month-old BDP-S1 costs US$1000. That lower price matches the price of the 60GB PlayStation 3--a device considered by some as a comparatively inexpensive entry Blu-ry player.

It also matches the current special pricing you can sometimes find on Samsung's BD-P1000; at one time, the BD-P1000 cost US$1000, but I saw it advertised recently at CompUSA for US$800 less a US$200 instant rebate.

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