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Sony intros next-gen Blu-ray players

Latest BD interactivity features added

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Sony last night introduced its latest standalone Blu-ray Disc players, both incorporating the latest Blu-ray interactivity features.

Sony BDP-S350

Sony's BDP-S350: BD Live coming via firmware update

The BDP-S350 and BDP-S550 both support what Blu-ray calls Bonus View, but is perhaps better known as picture-in-picture. It'll allow disc makers to add visual commentary tracks to movies in place of the old commentary voice-overs of the DVD era.

The S550 will also feature BD Live, the format's online content linkage technology, out of the box. The S350 won't but that's only because the firmware won't be ready when the machine goes on sale in the States this coming summer.

Sony said the S350 will get BD Live through an internet-delivered update in the autumn, round about the time the S500 goes on sale.

Sony BDP-S550

Sony's BDP-S550: Bonus View friendly

To complement BD Live, both machines have a USB port to allow owners to add USB Flash storage devices to hold downloaded files. The S550 will come with a 1GB stick in the box.

Both players feature 1080/60p and 24p cinema-rate output, Sony said, and will upscale DVDs to 1080p too. They have HDMI output and support for 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD and Digital Plus sound, as well as dts-HD and Master Audio bitstream output. The BDP-S550 adds dts-HD and dts-HD Master Audio decoding, and 7.1-channel analog audio output.

The BDP-S350 will retail for around $400 (£204/€270), BDP-S550 (£254/€337) for about $500. There's no word yet on European availability, but given the US release schedule, we'll undoubtedly get clarification of that by next September's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

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