-- The only two informative threads on these players is --
Panasonic BD-50: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=970806
Sony S550: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1000180
Oops, I forgot this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=996843
Until the Owner's manuals become available online, we won't really know more than what is in those 2 threads (and a lot of that is speculation). Right now, neither manufacturer is even saying much on their web sites.
From what's been published, there doesn't seem to be much, if any, difference. It looks like the main differences will be in the BD-Live features, which aren't important to me. Also, the BD-50 is "supposed" to have only 5.1 channel analog outputs, vs S550's 7.1 channel - advantage Sony (see the chart on the first page of http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=980672
). Also, the BD-50 is supposed to have slightly better picture quality, but that's pure speculation right now.Adrian7724
-- If you are just plugging the player into the HDMI port on your TV set, it doesn't make any difference (provided the TV set can decode PCM, LPCM/MPCM). For just video, you are right. However, to most of us, the Audio Processing capabilities makes a very big
difference and that also depends on what the capabilities of our AVRs are. Most of us (like me) don't want to spend another $500 to $1500 for a new AVR to give us the lossless audio signals that are on the BD DVDs (audio is 50% of the HT experience).Billbo1970
-- Yes! The PS3 only outputs 2-channel stereo out of it's digital optical output (and it has no analog audio outputs), and we would need an AVR with HDMI 1.3 inputs with PCM decoding capability. Lacking that, the PS3 has no advantages for those of us with, good to excellent, legacy (5.1/7.1 channel) audio gear in our Home Theaters.
For me, that means spending $1000 to $1500+ for a PS3 plus
a new, quality, AVR. That's 2 to 3 times the cost of a BD-50 or a S550. Slower load times is a small trade-off.