By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Against a trend of decreasing Blu-ray prices, Sharp today announced a new Blu-ray player with functions that take the focus off price and back onto features. The new BD-HP21X, offers an intriguing picture in a picture function.

Sharp calls it Final Standard Profile for Picture in Picture function, or PinP for short.

A little like Mini-Me from Austin Powers, PinP is a mini screen within the screen that allows audio and video content to be played while still listening to and viewing the main picture.

According to a release from Sharp, “this pop up screen function can be activated while watching any Blu-ray movie disc with additional content, typically an actors’ or director’s interview and/or commentary”.

In addition to the mini screen, the BD-HP21X (RRP $499) offers 7.1 sound reproduction via HDMI as well as a large range of playback formats including BD-ROM/R/RE / DVD video / DVD-R/RW / DVD+R/RW / Audio CD and CD-R/RW.

For the power conscious it uses 0.5 W of power in normal standby mode and in terms of connectivity to other devices it offers HDMI 1.3 out, component video out, video out, audio out L/R and optical digital audio out. Sharp’s own Aquos Link compatibility provides seamless connection with Sharp Aquos LCD TVs using one remote control.

Other features include Sharp’s Quick Start function, jpeg playback and expandable memory via USB stick.