The BDP-S300 delivers new features including the advanced Dolby Digital Plus audio codec as well as BRAVIA Theatre Sync and CD playback.
The new model can output 1920 x 1080/24p high-definition video, currently the highest resolution high-definition signal available through an HDMI connection. The player supports various video formats, including MPEG2, MPEG4-AVC and VC1.
For those who own an HDTV set without HDMI, an analog component output for 1080i (interlaced) is available as well.
The new BD player is compatible with most standard DVDs and has the added feature of 1080p upscaling through HDMI to 1080p capable HDTVs.
The model also supports AVC-HD discs encoded with x.v.Color (xvYCC) technology, a new international standard for wide color space. The standard expands the current data range of video approximately 1.8 times allowing the player to output more natural colors similar to what the human eye can actually see.
The new BD unit incorporates BRAVIA TheatreSync utilizing HDMI connectivity, which integrates the operation of the player with a BRAVIA flat-panel LCD television or audio/video receiver. With the touch of a button, you can automatically turn on and switch inputs to match connected devices.
Additionally, the player offers multi-channel linear PCM digital audio output via HDMI, and can decode Dolby Digital Plus, providing surround sound to an appropriately equipped receiver. The unit has optical and coaxial digital audio out, along with 5.1 channel decoding capability for backward compatibility with existing receivers.
It also supports BD-ROM, AVC-HD Media, DVD video and DVD playback from DVD/DVD+R/+RW encoded discs, CD playback, as well as MP3 audio files and JPEG images stored on DVD recordable media.
The company additionally announced a new free firmware update for the BDP-S1 that allows it to decode Dolby Digital Plus & Dolby True HD audio codecs. The update will be available next week for download at www.sony.com/blurayupdate.
Sony's rival in the HD arena, Janese Toshiba, currently sells its HD DVD players for less than $300.
Neither Blu-ray nor HD DVD players have caught on strongly with consumers, who have been waiting for the market to settle on one of the formats. But dropping prices for players and HDTV sets in more homes mean a big showdown between the discs may be looming this holiday season.