Sony's new Blu-ray players don't beat PS3

Sony has announced the imminent launch of two new Blu-ray players that will be able to support the latest Profile 2.0 features, including BonusView (picture-in-picture) and BD-Live.

The first of the two new models is the $400 (£200) BD-S350, which is expected to reach the shelves by the summer. Although this model will reportedly ship as a Profile 1.1 player, BD-Live support can be added through a simple firmware update.

The S350 will be followed later in the year by the $500 (£250) BD-S550, which will be both BD-Live and BonusView ready straight from the box.

Both models will come with USB ports for local storage, and the BD-S550 will be supplied with a 1GB HDD. In addition, both players are able to support 1080p and can decode Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus.

The more expensive BD-S550 can also decode DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and Master Audio, and has 7.1-channel analogue outputs. Standard DVD upscaling to 1080p is standard on both players.

Designed for enthusiasts

There’s little doubt that both players are designed to appeal primarily to home cinema enthusiasts who might feel ill at ease using a PS3 alongside a heavyweight home cinema system.

However, viewed purely from a value-for-money perspective there is little to recommend either player over a PS3. Especially given the fact that by the time the machines become available the PS3 could cost even less.

TechRadar did call Sony UK to enquire about the availability of the two models in the UK, only to be told that they couldn’t confirm anything at present. If either model does make it to the UK though, we’d hedge our bets that the usual UK price premiums will apply.