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.

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