As the founding father of Blu-ray, Sony – logically – should have been the first company to bring a player to the UK. As it stands the company is over six months behind Samsung and its debut will be a model it unveiled over a year ago!
The 'BDP-S1E' is the European version of the BDP-S1 that appeared in the US in the summer of 2006 and sports identical specs. That isn't all bad though because it means 1080p HD output through its HDMI port and up to 1080i using component, while DVDs can be played and the picture quality is automatically upscaled. CDs containing both Jpegs and MP3s are also compatible enabling slideshows and music to be played through the TV.
So in terms of features the BDP-S1E really doesn't have anything to worry about. Where it will run into problems however is in marketability. With a projected 'summer 2007' release date the BDP-S1E will be a first generation player in a second generation market. It will also come with a £900 price tag and given that Samsung's (admittedly rubbish) first gen players can already be bought for little over £500 online I simply can't see how it can be competitive?
Couple this with the fact that Sony itself has already announced US customers will receive its second gen Blu-ray player, the BDP-S300, at the same time we get the first (and with a 40 per cent price saving) and you can see that once again we have sh!*%y end of the stick.
For whatever reason Sony is currently stuck in a phase of getting its products across to Europe late and with premium prices. I think we all wish it snaps out of it soon...
Update: My bad, the BDP-S1E does have a few new tricks up its sleeve, namely: HDMI 1.3 and x.v. colour support for AVC-HD-encoded discs. That improves things, a bit.