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Sony launches low-cost Blu-ray player with Spidey sweetener

Sony is trying to prove it isn't threatened by the recent switch of Paramount to HD DVD, by launching a new budget player with a free Spider-Man trilogy Blu-ray giveaway

So, the curtain has lifted on IFA, Berlin's finest technology trade show, and Sony is one of the first companies to take centre stage. It didn't waste an opportunity to try and stick one to rivals in the HD DVD camp, as it announced that it will finally be launching its low-cost Blu-ray player, the BDP-S300.

The Japanese giant further sweetened the deal by offering free Blu-ray discs, namely the Spider-Man trilogy, which punters can get their grubby hands on by registering their player and completing a survey online. No doubt these free discs will contribute to Sony's healthy Blu-ray sales figures too, which won't hurt.

Early indications are that the BDP-S300 will retail for around £400, which does make it the most affordable Blu-ray player to hit the market so far (apart from the PS3). It still has a way to go before it can undercut Toshiba's HD-E1, which is available online  now for around £180.

The Sony does have some neat features -- it offers 1080p output and decoding of Dolby TrueHD, although it can't pass those over HDMI. The player can also offer Sony's x.v.Colour, which provides more on-screen colour depth, as long as your TV supports it. Another TV-dependent feature is 24p, which is rapidly becoming the buzzword of the year, and should be of interest to movie fans who want to see their films as they were designed to be seen.

The BDP-S300 also offers DVD upscaling to 1080p, 5.1 analogue audio outputs and a cunning ability to play CDs, something we're sure will come as a relief to people running short of things to play their music collection on. –Ian Morris