If you want a Blu-ray player at the moment, your choices are rather limited by price. The only player we really consider worth its salt (in our estimation) is the PS3, and if you aren't interested in the gaming or multimedia aspects of Sony's beloved console then you might be a bit annoyed about that.
So it is good thing that Sony has chosen to launch two new Blu-ray players just in time for the Christmas rush at 'reasonable' price points. Called the BDP-S300 (top) and BDP-S500 (bottom) the new devices will have RRPs of £399 and £599 respectively. While that doesn't sound astonishingly cheap in itself, street pricing is likely to knock a reasonable bit off that, especially with the holiday season looming. Of course you can get an HD DVD player for under £200, but it's not like the two formats are competing is it?
Specs-wise, both players offer support for True Cinema, 24fps playback at full 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.3, DVD up-scaling and come bundled with the Spider-man Trilogy on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, unlike the PSP, no red special edition will be available.
Differentiating the players, the S300 will offer 7.1 channel Linear PCM and Dolby Digital Plus, which the S500 goes further and also supports Dolby TrueHD ourput. The S500 also supports playback from BD-R/RE discs, a feature not present on the S300. Further, both sets also support the x.v.Colour standard when combined with a compatible HDTV.
Lastly, a quick scour of the PDF manual indicates that the s300 is only Blu-ray Profile 1 compliant, not 1.1 which we consider a necessity. It hasn't been possible to tell if the S500 stumbles into the same pitfall as yet.
The S300 will be available from mid-September, while the S500 will arrive later, in October. Keep your eyes peeled for actual street pricing soon therefore.