Sony announces mass market Blu-ray player by Christmas

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony Australia today launched its first Blu-ray player, the BDP-SE1 (RRP $1,399) and announced it will follow up with a cheaper player targeting mass market consumers before the end of the year.

The high-end Sony BDP-SE1 (RRP $1,399) will be available at the end of this month, but the company has also signaled a desire to attract mainstream consumers to the technology with the BDP-S300, which is scheduled for launch in September.

Specifications and pricing for the BDP-S300 have not yet been confirmed, but Sony today guaranteed it will be released for a mass market price “before Christmas”.

Sony’s first player to be offered locally, the BDP-SE1, will feature 1080p video output in 24 frames per second with a new display mode called 24p True Cinema, which matches the original frame rate of Hollywood film cameras for smoother motion on screen.

Other features include rigid chassis construction, x.v.Colour video for a wider colour gamut, HDMI output, a suite of high resolution audio codecs including Dolby Digital Plus and the Bravia Theatre Sync HDMI function for integrated remote control functions with Bravia TVs.

At the launch in Sydney this morning, the company acknowledged that it is late to market with the technology, lagging behind competitors such as Panasonic, Samsung and Pioneer who have already released Blu-ray players. But Sony claimed it has not been disadvantaged.

“Being first to market is no guarantee of success these days – the market needs to be receptive,” said Sony Australia managing director, Carl Rose, who pointed to the launch of the highly successful Bravia LCD range well behind its competitors in the LCD TV category.

“We also had the small matter of the PS3 rollout earlier this year and that was the priority,” he said.

Sony claims that the growing penetration of HD televisions and wider availability of HD software titles makes now a good time to be launching its first home Blu-ray player.

“We have closely monitored comparable markets around the world to determine when the time would be right to bring our Blu-ray players to market and we felt that Australians are ready. The increase in HD broadcast content available, the take-up of PlayStation 3 and the release of new Blu-ray titles demonstrate Australia’s readiness to adopt this emerging format,” said Rose.

Over 100 Blu-ray titles have been launched in Australia since February, when the Blu-ray Working Group officially launched the format in Australia. Sony has also claimed that early indicators from the Australian market are signaling a landslide for Blu-ray in the format war with Toshiba’s HD-DVD.

According to GfK data released today by Sony, of the 5,590 high definition software titles sold in Australia during the first quarter, around 90 per cent have been Blu-ray, causing Sony Australia representatives to question the existence of the so-called ‘format war’ which has been compared to the Beta and VHS battle of the 1980’s.

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