The Blu-ray camp has long been claiming victory over HD DVD in the next-generation disc format war. Sony has been particularly noisy about how it has trounced the other format. The problem is, Sony hasn't launched a Blu-ray player for us Europeans -- with the exception of the PS3, and we've only just got that. Until now, that is: Sony has finally agreed to let us join the high-definition disc revolution by launching the BDP-S1E -- a Blu-ray disc player for us to enjoy.
The BDP-S1E is well matched to the also newly announced Sony Bravia D3000 range. It supports the 24p True Cinema mode that allows films to be watched as they were intended by the director. Basically, until now we've all been suffering with movies that play back 'faster' than they do in the cinema. When a film is shown on TV or sold on DVD it has to be adjusted to be compatible with the PAL format. This means a speed up of 4 per cent -- the difference is that films are shot at a rate of 24 frames per second, where TV uses 25 frames per second.
This should excite purists who have long bemoaned that pesky 4 per cent. We think this is a pretty smart move by Sony, as most of those prepared to pay a premium for hi-def discs are likely to want to see as faithful a representation of the director's vision as possible.
It goes without saying that the BDP-S1E also supports 1080p video, for the best quality picture. There's also support for Sony's ultra-wide colour gamut, which they call 'x.v.Colour' and should provide stunningly colourful pictures on compatible HDMI 1.3 televisions.
Sony also claims the BDP-S1E has "stunning looks". We'll hold back on agreeing with that -- it has certainly got an awful lot of blue on it, if that's your bag.
Sony says the BDP-S1E will be on the market this summer, and told us it would cost around €1300 -- about £900. The question is, will the new cut-price (and less blue) player it announced recently be available in Europe too?
Update: A full review of the BDP-S1E is now available. -IM