Sony has reduced the price of its cheapest Blu-ray player by $100 to $499 (£251) in the United States. The interesting thing about this is that the BDP-S300 player is now cheaper than the Blu-ray equipped US PlayStation 3 console. And this may act as a springboard to a Sony Blu-ray player launch over here.

Currently, the only way to get hold of a Blu-ray player is either to stump up £400 for a PS3 or take the even more expensive options offered by Samsung and Sony. These are the only two companies that are currently selling standalone Blu-ray players in the UK.

Samsung's BP-P1000 can be found online for £450-£550, while the Panasonic DMP-BD10 is available for a staggering £1,300. The need for a cheap Sony player then is plain to see, especially when Toshiba's knocking out HD DVD players for £250 online.

However Sony has appeared reluctant to launch Blu-ray players in Europe so far. This could be because blue-laser diode supplies were limited early on. And most of those being made ended up in PS3s bound for the US and Japan. The delayed launch of Sony's PS3 in Europe wouldn't have helped either.

Is this a clue?

Well, now that Sony is set to abandon this strategy by giving its Blu-ray player a cheaper retail price than the PS3, it's quite possible it could follow suit with a budget UK machine.

Sony has always said it would launch a BD player in the UK by the end of the year. But it has said nothing recently to indicate that it has a date in mind.

The BDP-S300 outputs high-definition video signals at 1080p quality. And it has features including support for the AVCHD high-definition format in new camcorders, CD playback and Bravia Theater Sync for controlling entire Sony AV setups via HDMI.