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Sony Details Next-gen Blu-ray Players

Culver City (CA) - With its position all but sealed up as the king of high definition home media, Sony has shed some light on its next wave of Blu-ray Disc players, including new features like Internet connectivity.

The Sony BDP-S350 is the first new Blu-ray player announced since Toshiba declared it would stop supporting HD DVD, a competing format that it helped create.

The S350 will have an Ethernet port, allowing users to connect the player online to download trailers, games, and other content right from their couch. Sony calls the service "BD Live", but it won’t be available right away. Users will need to download a firmware update later down the road before any discs start actually taking advantage of this feature.

It will also have the ability to play back picture-in-picture features on Blu-ray movies. For example, instead of an audio director’s commentary track, the film could have a small video box where you actually see the director talking.

At the beginning of the year, Warner Bros announced it would stop supporting HD DVD and in so doing began a tidal wave of bad news for the Toshiba-fronted format. HD DVD offered Web-enabled content and picture-in-picture features practically from the day it launched. Blu-ray is now essentially the only high-def disc medium, but it still faces competition from online video outlets that offer downloadable HD content.

The BDP-S350 will be available this summer for "about $400", according to Sony. Another new player, the BDP-S550, will have the same features and will go on sale in the fall for "about $500."