updated 10:30 pm EST, Sun January 6, 2008
Sony Blu-ray TP and Drive
Sony has continued its succession of releases with its first major update to the VAIO TP as well as a new Blu-ray drive for computers. The updated TP home theater PC now includes a Blu-ray reader that can play HD movies at a full 1080p when attached to an HDMI-equipped HDTV or computer display; it also becomes the first home theater PC to switch to Intel's 45nm Core 2 Duo and runs a 2.1GHz processor instead of the old 1.83GHz chip. On a premium model, a dual-CableCARD tuner allows it to watch and record cable HD at the same time.
The TP is similarly better integrated into a home theater with support for HDMI's CEC spec that allows the PC to control TVs, receivers, and other devices automatically from the VAIO's remote. Both the basic and premium TPs ship with a dedicated graphics chip and a 500GB hard drive; they ship towards the end of January for $1,600 (in white) and $3,000 (in black).
Sony also touts what it says is the least expensive Blu-ray drive for desktop computers. Rather than try to offer full recording, the company's BDU-X10S is meant as a companion for an existing DVD burner. While it can only read Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, it pushes the cost down to $200, less than half the price of combo or full BD-R burners. It initially ships with Windows PCs in mind and comes with a Blu-ray version of PowerDVD. Shipments start this month for the Serial ATA drive, which needs HDMI or an HDCP-protected DVI connection for full 1080p playback of some copy-protected movies.