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New Sony Blu-ray players, but still expensive

Sony announces two new Blu-ray players at CEDIA, the BDP-S2000ES and BDP-S500, both offering similar feature sets with prices of $1,300 and $700, respectively.

Sony BDP-S2000ES
The Sony BDP-S2000ES.

Editors' note: Neither the BDP-S2000ES nor the BDP-S500 offer DTS-HD Master Audio compatibility, either via bitstream or onboard decoding. We originally speculated that it should be able to output DTS-HD Master Audio using its bitstream output, but have received confirmation from Sony that neither player can.

Over the summer, Sony introduced the cheapest standalone Blu-ray player yet, the BDP-S300; now it's filling out its product line with two higher-end models: the BDP-S500 ($700) and the BDP-S2000ES ($1,300), both coming this fall. According to the company press release, the two models are largely the same, sharing the following features:

BDP-S500 and BDP-S2000ES key features:

  • 1080p at 24-frames per second output;
  • Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus;
  • Bit-stream output for DTS-HD High Resolution, but not DTS-HD Master Audio;
  • HDMI 1.3 port;
  • Support for AVCHD discs encoded with x.v.Color.
Sony BDP-S500
The Sony BDP-S500. Sony

The step-up features for the BDP-S2000ES are mostly related to build quality, with Sony touting "dual-shield construction," to prevent dust from getting inside the player, and "a rigid-drive bracket" which supposedly minimizes vibrations. There is also greater separation between video and audio boards, which Sony claims can deliver better quality. With many people getting both their video and audio from the digital HDMI output, we're a little skeptical that there will be any real-world audio and video performance improvements.

While the BDP-S500 looks to have a solid combination of features, Toshiba's HD-A35 will be released in October with the same key features and a list price of $500. The high price of hardware has been a problem for the Blu-ray camp, and these new players don't help.