New Sony Blu-ray players: Better than PS3?

Sony has announced it will release two new standalone Blu-ray players, the BDP-S350 and the BDP-S550, which offer some compelling features such as Blu-ray Profile 2.0 compliance and DTS-HD Master Audio support.

Is the BDP-S550 the first standalone Blu-ray player better than the PS3?
Is the BDP-S550 the first standalone Blu-ray player better than the PS3? Sony

Sony has announced two new Blu-ray players scheduled to be released in the second half of the year: the entry-level BDP-S350 and the step-up BDP-S550. We haven't been the biggest fans of Sony's recent standalone Blu-ray players (the BDP-S300 was really slow and the same price as the PlayStation 3). Fresh off its victory over HD DVD, however, the company has announced two new Blu-ray players for 2008, both of which sport considerably more attractive feature sets and prices. Here are the details:

Key features of the Sony BDP-S350:

  • Supports BonusView, which means it is Profile 1.1 compliant
  • BD-Live ready, which means it can gain BD-Live capability with a firmware update
  • Ethernet port for firmware upgrades
  • Supports 1080p output at both 24 and 60 frames per second
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD
  • Bitstream output for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • About $400 list price, scheduled to come out this summer

Step-up features on the BDP-S550

  • Onboard decoding for DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • 7.1 analog outputs
  • 1GB local storage, which should make it Profile 2.0 compliant
  • About $500 list price, scheduled to come out in the fall

While the BDP-S350 is interesting for its relatively low price point, it's still going to be hampered by the fact that it costs the same as the PlayStation 3--which offers almost all the same functionality (except bitstream audio output for high-resolution soundtracks), plus you get a high-definition game console and a media streamer. On the other hand, we could see the BDP-S550 being a hit with home theater enthusiasts because it offers a couple of key step-ups that make is a particularly solid standalone player--DTS-HD Master Audio Decoding and 7.1 analog outputs. We're betting that the PS3 eventually gets onboard DTS-HD Master Audio decoding--which will make BDP-S550 less attractive--but for right now it looks like a solid option for audiophiles, especially those who plan to use the 7.1 analog outputs. Of course, the BDP-S550 will also have to compete with other step-up standalone players coming out this year and we're betting the Panasonic DMP-BD50 will give it a run for its money.

Featured Video

Your phone's screen is ruining your sleep

Staring at your Phone's screen might be hazardous for your sleep, unless you change the color temperature. Sharon Profis explains on "You're Doing It All Wrong."

by Sharon Profis