Stopped by there early this afternoon. The player they were using was the prototype from Japan that's been seen at most of the trade shows. The BDPS1 apparent isn't ready yet. It was hooked up via DVI outputting 1080i to a Sony display, I forget which model it was exactly but I'm sure someone will figure it out from the pictures. As with the HD-DVD demos, they didn't have any official product yet to show off - they were running a specially made demo disc. The disc contained the trailers for Spiderman 2, Stealth, Big Fish, Into the Blue and Hitch, as well as a scene from Spiderman 2 and a splitscreen comparison between DVD and Blu-ray using Lawrence of Arabia. The DVD/Blu-ray comparison showed Blu-ray being a lot sharper than dvd, but honestly I don't think I've ever seen dvd look as bad as they made it in their demo. Overall the Blu-ray images looked pretty good, but there were a lot more compression artifacts than I expected to see. For having all this extra disc space it didn't look like they were taking much advantage of it, and the encoding didn't look much better than standard dvd. But who knows how long ago this demo disc was made, hopefully the real discs will be encoded better. The image was sharp and the colors held well. It looked at lot better than what I've seen from satellite or cable HDTV. For some reason everything but the Arabia demo was cropped 16x9, not OAR. Hopefully that was done just for the demo and the real discs won't be that way, but the rep didn't know.
They didn't have any official specs for the BDPS1 player, but the rep did confirm it would output 1080p/24 over HDMI. He wasn't sure about 1080p/60. Like the Pioneer Elite player, the Sony won't have any internal decoders for the new audio formats, so you'll have to wait for new receivers that handle the formats to be able to take advantage of them. Also, the Sony Blu-ray player does not support SACD.
The rep said right now the rumor is that the list price for the Sony player will be around $1200, but since the Samsung is coming out first at a lower price Sony will probably drop it to $999.99 to compete. The Sony player will be out in July of this year. The Sony rep said Blu-ray Recorders will probably hit the US around April or May of next year, and that the delay is because they're still working out all the copy protection issues. He also said the current rumor is that the PS3 will launch in the US in August. I asked him about Sony's somewhat poor choice of launch titles (IMHO anyway) and he said the titles they picked were originally geared towards gamers because they had planned for the PS3 to be the first player BD released. Since it got delayed that kind of messed things up. But he repeated the line that they'd have 100 titles out by the end of the year.
When all was said and done, I was impressed enough that I went ahead and pre-ordered a player. So I guess I'm all the way in now as an early adopter for both formats.
They were handing out a blu-ray flier that I scanned in to a pdf. There's really not any info in it we don't already know, but here it is anyway:Sony Blu-ray PDF
Here are some pictures, though it's hard to really pick up the details from photos. The difference between the DVD and BD sides of the Arabia demo were a lot more distinct than what the camera picked up. Also, their demo area wasn't the best as there were a lot of lights reflecting not only from the room, but from the other displays around it.http://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray01.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray02.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray03.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray04.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray05.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray06.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray07.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray08.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray09.jpghttp://www.mikedunn.com/pictures/bluray10.jpg