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Sharp intros two new sub-$300 Blu-ray players

Sharp is serving up two new Blu-ray players, the BD-HP16U and the BD-HP22U, in the first half of 2009. Only the BD-HP22U supports the BD-ROM Profile 2.0, also known as BD-Live.

We're still waiting for a picture of Sharp's new Blu-ray players--but they are both slimmer than this model. Sharp

In case you didn't know, Sharp makes Aquos Blu-ray players, and it's got two new models lined up for the first half of 2009, the BD-HP22U and BD-HP16U. The major difference between the two is that the BD-HP22U ($299.99)--due to hit stores in May--supports Profile 2.0, also known as BD-Live, and delivers Blu-ray's interactive features through an Ethernet-enabled Internet connection. Meanwhile, the marginally less expensive BD-HP16U ($279.99)--due out in March--does not.

Both models have a new slim, compact design and piano-black finish to match Sharp's Aquos TVs. In terms of specifications, both players offer Full HD 1080p output, HDMI 1.3 digital output with x.v. color, and 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution video at 24 frames per second output to reduce artifacts when watching film-based material.

On the audio front, the lossless surround-sound formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio are on board and Sharp is touting its Aquos Pure Mode that, according to Sharp, automatically produces an optimal picture when you pair one of these sets with a Sharp Aquos TV. According to a news release, "Sharp engineers designed this mode so that the BD player recognizes the connection to the Aquos TV, in turn producing the best picture possible. When the BD player is connected the Aquos* automatically switches to 'dot-by-dot' mode, allowing the consumer to view every pixel of 1080i and 1080p content with no overscan, proving a picture can be viewed in its true form with every detail displayed."

Both BD players include Sharp's proprietary Quick Start feature for quick-disc loading and low-power consumption in both Power On mode and in Standby mode. The BD-HP22U includes 2GB of USB memory (for BD-Live content).

While the price of the BD-HP16U is listed at $279.99, we wouldn't be surprised if its actual price is less than $200 when it's released in March. And by May, when the BD-HP22U hits stores, it, too, should be closer to $200--if not less.