T3: Sure, you know it produces better pictures than DVD, but what about the rest of Blu-Ray’s advantages? We took a trip to see Sony today, for a proper look under the bonnet of all those lovely Blu-Ray players we’ll be buying this Christmas, and to see what the future holds for Sony’s Hi-Def platform.
For a start, the capabilities of current Blu-Ray discs are just the tip of the Hi-Def iceberg – they’ll hold around 50-gig of data at the moment, but Sony says its intricate layering system means up to 200-gig discs are possible.
It’s that space that allows the next impressive advantage – uncompressed audio in full 5.1 surround. That means Blu-Ray boasts better quality sound than you’ll get at your local multiplex, at least until digital cinema really takes off in Britain.
Even the menus gracing Blu-Ray titles have been given an overhaul, with Sony saying new animations, sounds and fast page changes will make watching a film at home much more pleasurable.
Blu-Ray even supports downloadable subtitles, so if a film isn’t immediately subtitled to your native language, a quick trip online can rectify the problem.
That network connectivity, coupled with local storage, either inside the player or through flash cards, will also let you download new content. Sony says studios will offer new trailers whenever you insert one of their discs – something that could keep films feeling fresh, even after you’ve owned them for a while.
Extra content won’t just come in the form of videos and trailers though. Sony’s BD-J system lets Java programs run from the discs, opening up the possibility of real games being bundled with films. Think mobile phone games, but bigger and better. (…)
Blu-Ray also lets you enjoy picture-in-picture goodies, like video commentaries from directors. (…)
All this content can be tagged to specific points in the film too, and live audio mixing means it all sounds crisp, clean and well balanced.
And now for the bad news. Sony’s PlayStation 3 is the only device anywhere near the horizon capable of exploiting all these whizzy new features.