We took a look at Sony's top-of-the-range BDP-S500 Blu-ray player just prior to Toshiba's decision to abandon HD DVD. Now, subsequent to the death of the rival format, Blu-ray has a new pair of players to up the ante on its side - bringing Sony's offerings into line with the format's Profile 2.0 spec at long last.
Two models have been launched, the BDP-S350 and BDP-S550. Starting with the similarities both players pack Ethernet ports allowing BD-Live content to be accessed and downloaded - storage for downloaded content is provided by plugging a USB device into the port at the rear of each player.
Playback-wise, both support BonusView (picture-in-picture) and will output at a maximum 1080p resolution. Elsewhere x.v.Color (Sony's rebranding of Deep Colour) discs will also be supported, when available, and the players will upscale standard DVDs to 1080p resolutions.
24fps playback is also supported and as for audio both decks are Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus compliant. Differentiating the S550 is DTS-HD and Master audio support as well as a bundled 1GB USB storage device - although that is hardly a compelling USP.
The announcement only details US dates and prices, so add a large delay and price mark-up for the UK. The BDP-S350 is expected to make a summer debut for around $400 with the BDP-S550 coming in autumn for $500.