If you've been put off by Blu-ray's changing Profiles, varying audio decoding compatibilities and prohibitive pricing, Sony's BDP-S550 represents a lot of what is right about the latest crop of Blu-ray players coming out. The BDP-S550 has a strong feature set, including Profile 2.0 support, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and 7.1 analog outputs. Sony also goes the extra mile on this player and includes a tiny 1GB USB drive, so the BDP-S550 works out of the box with BD-Live features, as long as you're connected via Ethernet. We were also impressed … Read more
Sony will be dropping the prices on its standalone (non-PlayStation 3) Blu-ray players by $100 in September, according to an anonymous source cited by CE insider Gary Merson on his HD Guru Web site.
Around the same time, the source claims that budget players manufactured by Funai and sold under the labels Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania, and Insignia could drop as low as $249. Specifically, the Sony BDP-S350 would drop from $400 to $300, and the as-yet-unreleased step-up model, the BDP-S550, would be introduced at $400, instead of the $500 price that was previously announced.
Now, anonymous sources are a dime a dozen on the Internet, but our normal degree of "beware stuff you see on a blog" cynicism is tempered by two points. First: Merson's had a good track record on getting the inside scoop on forthcoming price drops in the past (example). Second, the fact that prices are coming down as we approach the all-important holiday buying season just makes sense--we'd be more surprised if the prices didn't fall. … Read more