Sony announces first 3D Blu-ray Disc players

They will bring 3D movies to LCD and plasma TV screens

Sony took a lead in pushing 3D movies to homes, announcing on Wednesday a new Blu-ray Disc player and upgrades to existing players so that they will be able to show high-definition 3D movies too.

The company introduced the BDP-S470 Blu-ray Disc model and upgraded existing home theater systems, which will be able to play Blu-ray movies when related firmware for the devices is released later this year, Sony said in a statement. Movies based on the Blu-ray 3D specification, which was finalized by the Blu-ray Association in December, can be shown on the players.

The Blu-ray 3D specification supports devices including Blu-ray Disc players, gaming consoles like PlayStation 3 and high-definition TV models, including LCD and plasma screens. Blu-ray 3D DVD players will project 1080p high-definition images with additional depth, and special glasses will be required to view movies. The specification also will enable 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles.

The launch of 3D players by Sony is a step forward in the growing adoption of 3D. The 3D movie "Avatar" recently beat "Titanic" as the all-time highest-grossing movie worldwide, bringing in more than US$2 billion globally as of early February and close to $629 million in the U.S. as of last week.

Sony has been putting its resources into 3D, last year announcing it would broadcast the 2010 FIFA World Cup of soccer from South Africa to worldwide audiences in 3D. Other companies including LG, Panasonic and Samsung have also put their weight behind 3D.

Beyond playing 3D content, the new DVD player will also be able to play streaming movies from Internet video services like Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand and YouTube.

The model will also allow the iPhone or iPod Touch to function as a remote control through a free application called BD Remote that can be downloaded from Apple's App Store. The iPhone application will provide users the ability to look up movie details including actors, as well as production information, or to search for video clips online.

The BDP-S470 player will also include Wi-Fi capabilities and allow multimedia playback via USB port. The device will be available in February for around US$200.

Sony also announced it has added 3D capabilities to existing BDP-S370 and BDP-S570 Blu-ray Disc models, which will be available this month for $180 and $250, respectively. The company also announced upgrades to the BDV-E770W and BDV-E570 Blu-ray Disc home theater systems, which will be available later this year for $650 and $550, respectively.

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