Sony, Panasonic ready 3D Blu-ray players

3D televisions could cost you a kidney, but 3D Blu-ray players won’t be so pricey, as shown with Sony’s first product.

Sony and Panasonic both announced their first 3D-ready Blu-ray players today. While Panasonic didn’t reveal pricing, Sony said its BDP-S470 will cost $200. That’s only $20 more than a comparable Sony Blu-ray player without 3D playback. In addition, the player features BD Live, Bravia Internet video, 1080p DVD upscaling and TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. It has 1 GB of memory built-in and includes a USB jack for external media.

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The player won’t ship with Blu-ray enabled, but it’ll get the capability this summer through a firmware upgrade.  Sony’s previously announced models, the BDP-S570 Blu-ray player and the BDV-E770W and BDV-E570 home theaters, will also get the free 3D firmware, as will the Playstation 3. All the new models are shipping now and will be sold at retail next month.

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Panasonic, meanwhile, plans to ship four Blu-ray players that are 3D-capable in April, but only in Japan for now. One of these models includes an SDXC jack  (just in case anyone’s shooting amateur 3D video?) and another is a Blu-ray recorder.

And so the march to 3D continues. Last week, Panasonic opened a 3D Blu-ray authoring facility, allowing the creation of content discs with 3D playback. In the United States, DirecTV and other companies plan to launch 3D channels. Televisions from LG and Sony are planned for later this year, though you can already get a 3D LCD monitor.

In theaters, 3D movies such as Avatar have piqued consumers’ interest, but the home technology isn’t quite ready yet. Sony seems to be planning ahead with inexpensive 3D Blu-ray players, so when the cost of a 3D television becomes reasonable, consumers will already have one piece of the puzzle.

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