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Sony Introduces Wi-Fi BD Player

22 Apr, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold

sony new blu-ray player

Hoping to overcome the biggest obstacle to BD Live’s mainstream acceptance, Sony Electronics April 22 announced the first Blu-ray Disc player from Sony that can be connected to the Internet via a wireless home network.

The Sony S560 will be available at retail in July at a suggested list price of $349. It also will feature a “quick start” function that promises to play any Blu-ray Disc in six seconds, thus mitigating a common consumer complaint about slow load times.

But the big news is the player’s Wi-Fi capability, which Sony Electronics marketing VP Chris Fawcett said is in response to research that indicates 83% of the nation’s more than 70 million broadband homes now have wireless home networks.

Although 80% of BD households now have BD Live capability, he said, actual implementation has been hampered by the need for a wired Internet connection. The new player eliminates this requirement and can easily be connected to the Internet through existing wireless home networks, allowing consumers to download and stream BD Live content including additional scenes, short subjects, fresh trailers, interactive games and more — as well as firmware updates.

“This allows you to conveniently enjoy BD Live, no matter where your broadband connection is located in the home,” Fawcett said.

Several other consumer electronics manufacturers have announced plans to make standalone Wi-Fi Blu-ray Disc players, but Sony’s is expected to be the first to come to market.

The new player took center stage at a Blu-ray Disc press event hosted on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, Calif., by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

David Bishop, the division’s worldwide president, noted that despite the down economy, Blu-ray Disc adoption continues to rise, with 37 million discs sold last year, a 300% increase from 2007.

He put a lot of faith in BD Live, expressing his belief that interactivity will play an increasingly important role in home entertainment’s future and that if the studios were to simply focus on Blu-ray’s superior sound and picture, “our industry [would] risk alienating a new generation of consumers who passionately believe that their entertainment should be a compelling, always-connected experience.”

Lexine Wong, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s senior EVP of worldwide marketing, noted that Sony has delivered more BD Live-enabled content than any other studio. Since last June, BD Live has been available on every Sony Pictures Blu-ray Disc release, Wong said — a total of more than 80 titles.

Wong also noted that Sony was the first studio to launch BD Live internationally.

“We now offer interactive content that’s been localized for 10 different major global markets,” she said. “There’s also a dedicated portal to support other territories. This makes BD Live content available to millions of consumers around the world.”

Even though a Wi-Fi Blu-ray Disc player won’t be out for another three months, Wong said, nearly 3.5 million consumers have already accessed at least one Sony Pictures BD Live screen. On average Sony’s BD Live screens attract 100,000 unique visitors each week.

(L-R): Sony executives Fritz Friedman, Chris Fawcett, Lexine Wong and David Bishop.

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