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Yesterday, I posted this article about Sony's new Blu-ray player, the BDP-S300, that was being released for shipping to retailers. In the article, I pointed out some missing data points that the press release didn't cover, and I've come across some additional information about the player.
Thanks to this post by a member of the High-Def Digest Forums, a link to the player's manual has been found on Sony's web site at:
On page 5, we have the answer about whether the player will support the new Blu-ray Profile (1.1) that will be required of all Blu-ray players sold after October 31, 2007. That answer would be no; the player supports Profile 1 only.
On page 48, we have some answers about audio support. The chart there shows that Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD will be output via the player's 5.1 channel analog audio outputs and via the HDMI output with the proper setting. That's good news, because the press release didn't specifically mention Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD and many enthusiasts want to have high definition audio to go with their high definition video.
There is a detail that sharp-eyed readers will notice, in that the player supports the high-resolution DTS-HD format, but not the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) audio format. Confused yet? It's a fine detail that will probably make most people shake their heads as to why some people care, but with some studios producing Blu-ray movies with DTS-HD MA audio tracks, it would be nice to be able to have a player that could decode them in their full glory (DTS-HD MA tracks will be decoded as DTS-HD, so that's nothing to sneeze at, but still).
For more information about the sound formats on Blu-ray and HD DVD, please see our Help Document: "Dolby Digital Sound on HD DVD and Blu-ray Explained"
The manual also provides us with some additional good news. On page 6, it shows that the BDP-S300 will play AVCHD formatted DVDs. Basically, this means that if you have high definition video in the AVC format, you can save it to a standard definition DVD and play it in high definition on this player. I did some looking around, and I did find that the Sony Vegas+DVD 7 video editing software ($525, $413 at Amazon) currently has the ability to create video in AVCHD, and the less-expensive Sony Vegas Studio+DVD Platinum Edition ($120, $70 after rebate at Amazon) will have this feature added in July. I use the standard version of the Sony Vegas Studio+DVD software, and I like it a lot. If you are at all interested in editing and creating video, I recommend checking out the free trials they offer. If you have a high definition camcorder, and/or if you like to create/collect high definition videos, you will be able to do so and play them on this Blu-ray player.
You will be limited to the 8.5GB space limitation of standard definition DVDs however, so the natural progression would be to look at Blu-ray disc burners. They are expensive at around $500, but they have come down in price since their introduction, and the media will probably also follow suit (currently around $25 per 25GB disc). Don't run out and spend your paycheck just yet, though, because you won't be able to play those homemade BD-Rs and BD-REs on the new Sony BDP-S300. Right next to the good news on page 6 is the bad news that this player will not read those two disc formats. Either the teams at Sony aren't talking to each other, or it's just a sign that the Blu-ray format just isn't mature yet.
So there you have it. A rather long essay on a topic that shouldn't require so much thought! I may have a detail here or there wrong, but this is the best analysis of the little bit of information that is available so far on this player. (If anyone from Sony is reading this, please feel free to send me an evaluation unit, and I would be happy to do more in-depth research!)
Can you plug in this Blu-ray player and enjoy a movie with high quality video and really good audio? Yes. Does it take advantage of all the potential that the Blu-ray format has to offer? No.
Each new player that is released gets a little closer to that goal, but none have achieved it thus far. Considering that the Sony BDP-S300 doesn't meet the requirements of a deadline less than five months away, the excitement that this player generates as a result of its primary features and its lower list price is somewhat diminished.
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