The DVD format is far from dead, but disc players for next generation high-definition high capacity discs are starting to take off. Earlier this week, Sony launched launched the first European Blu-ray disc player, the Sony BDP-S1E. Which, appropriately, has a blue panel at the front.
"Setting new standards in high definition audiovisual performance and ease of use .. it looks pretty good too!.. The BDP-S1E represents one of Sony's most powerful, intelligent and stylish consumer equipment models ever developed."
Sony describes the new player as "a super heavyweight, with the looks of a super model and truly simple and intuitive operation for
the serious AV enthusiasts. Such is our confidence in the Blu-ray format; we plan to announce a larger family of products in the coming months".
Here's a slightly different pic (all pictures copyright Sony):
Below are the official Sony summary specs. Those interested in further info can view the detailed technical specifications for the Sony BDP-S1E here (with thanks to Immediate Future) - there are 3 versions: French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish; English; and Russian.
- 1920 x 1080p (progressive) High Definition video for Blu-ray Disc titles
- A 1080p video upscaling facility, which takes your old movies out of the DVD-Video domain and into near full HD resolution
- 24p True Cinema, meaning viewers can watch films at the authentic speed and pitch as the director intended for the first time
- Up to 8 channels of uncompressed linear PCM digital audio output via HDMI as well as Dolby Digital Plus
- Highest audio performance is assured through separate audio circuitary, the use of finely tuned high-performance audio components, a rigid beam chassis construction, drive brackets and off-centre insulator feet
- The adoption of x.v.Colour (Sony's implementation of the xvYCC video signal standard) giving viewers twice the colour or sRGB when playing back discs recorded with AVC-HD camcorders
- Slimline aluminium and genuine specially coated glass finished exterior
- No confusing multiple menu navigation as synchronisation of the BDP-S1E player alongside Sony BRAVIA TVs, HiFi systems and receivers is as simple as pressing one button
- The player boasts compatibility with a diverse number of high quality video codecs including MPEG2, MPEG4-AVC and VC1
- HDMI interfaces for broadcast level of device interoperability and an analogue component output for 1080i
- Supports BD-ROM, AVC-HD, CD and DVD playback, as well as MP3 files and JPEG images.
I haven't tested the new video player yet, but I hope to be able to do so and a full review of this gadget will follow as soon as possible. I watch a lot of television with the aid of my trusty Topfield 5800 PVR, but not much via DVD. Who knows if the advent of Blu-ray and HD-DVD change this; I may even invest in a new TV.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD format wars. Like many other technology fans, I wish that the two opposing camps had managed to reach agreement on a common format. At the moment the jury's still out, but I hope for the sake of the industry and consumers that it won't take too long for one or other to win out definitively.
There's been a lot of publicity about LG's Super Multi Blue BH100 Player, launched in January 2007, which is compatible with Blu-ray Disc, DVD, CD read/write and HD DVD-ROM (read) (and similarly their GGW-H10N drive for computers will support both Blu ray and HD DVD). I suspect that until a single format for high definition video and data storage is settled, it's the canny manufacturers of dual format hybrid players like LG who will be the real winners.