US NEWS: Sony unveils 'Profile 2.0' Blu-ray Disc players, a 1080p-upscaling receiver – and the $40,000+ rack system!

Sony has just launched a stack of new AV products in Las Vegas – no, it's not two months late for the annual CES show, but is holding its Open House trade show in Sin City.

And the US-market newcomers include the company's first 'Profile 2.0' full-specification Blu-ray Disc players, four new AV receivers with 1080p upscaling via HDMI, and an amazing whole-house entertainment system designed for the custom installation market, with prices starting from around $40,000.

The two new players are the $400 BDP-S350, available this Summer, and the $500 BDP-S550 (above), due in the Autumn. They support trick Blu-ray Disc features such as Bonus View (Picture in Picture) and BD-Live interactive content, and have an Ethernet port to access this content.

The BDP-S350 is 'BD-Live ready', requiring a firmware update to access the interactive services, but the BDP-S550 will be BD-Live capable out of the box.

In addition, the new players have a USB port for the addition of extra memory for this content, the BDP-S550 coming complete with a 1GB USB storage device.

Both models offer 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus decoding and bitstream output, as well as dts-HD High Resolution Audio and Master Audio bitstream output. The BDP-S550 adds dts-HD High Resolution Audio and dts-HD Master Audio decoding as well as a 7.1-channel analog audio output.

They also have 24fps 1080p output with x.v.Colour, and can also upscale DVDs to 1080p.

1080p upscaling is featured in Sony's new STR-DG AV receivers, also being launched in the US. The range-topping STR-DG920 (above) has upscaling, 1080p/24fps/x.v.Colour and Deep Colour pass-through, while the STR-DG820 loses the upscaling and Deep Colour capability.

Both models have 7x110W output, four HDMI inputs and decoding for Dolby Digital Plus/TrueHD and dts High Resolution Audio/HD Master Audio. They also have Sony's Digital Media Port for the connection of personal devices, wi-fi or Bluetooth, and the company Digital Cinema Auto-Calibration system.

The STR-DG920 will sell for about $600 when it goes into US stores in June, with the STR-DG820 selling for $400 and arriving in May. The range also includes two simpler models, the $200 STR-DG520 and $300 STR-DG720: these lack the HD audio decoding, but can still handle multichannel LPCM.

Finally, Sony unleashed a massive rack system allowing whole-house entertainment and control. The NHS-130C is aimed firmly at the US custom installation market, and provides 7,1-channel entertainment in the main room, plus high-def video and multiroom music into up to 12 more zones.

It can also control the entire home's lighting, heating, air-conditioning and security systems via its own display or remote keypads and touch panels, and even comes with an in-wall iPod dock to allow portable music to be streamed around the house.

Part of the specification includes a Sony ES receiver, Blu-ray player and 160GB music server, and the idea is that by pre-racking and factory-configuring the system, it makes custom installations both quicker and easier.

The company says typical installations will run from about $40,000 to $85,000 - you can start drooling at the Sony custom installation website.

Technorati Tags: 1080p, 24fps, 7.1, AV receiver, Blu-ray, custom installation, Dolby Digital Plus Digital Plus, Dolby TruHD, DTS HD, DTS Master Audio, HDMI, iPod dock, multiroom, music server, Sony

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.