Yesterday, Sony Computer Entertainment finally gave home theatre fanatics what they had been clamouring for since late 2006, when the PlayStation 3 console launched. With the delivery of the latest console firmware, version 2.30, owners whom have an amplifier capable of outputting PCM sound will benefit from improved sound with Blu-ray movies encoded in DTS HD Master Audio.
Before the update, the console could only access the 'core' of the audio track, resulting in a lossy output from inside the lossless container. We'll talk more on this later.
For reviewing Blu-ray movies here on TweakTown, I use a combination of two Blu-ray players; the Sony BDP-S500, which is Sony's flagship stand alone Blu-ray player (which at the time of release in November 2007, retailed for $1299), and the PlayStation 3. The idea behind obtaining a stand alone player was so I could access the higher functions that Blu-ray could perform, which would be delivered via firmware upgrades, which was the expectation upon release. I say expectation, because Sony never formally announced upcoming features, but Sony staff littered forums with hints and users calls to technical support indicated to 'expect them soon'. So it wasn't merely a pie in the sky wish.
However, whilst the BDP-S500 has received numerous firmware upgrades, they have all been bug fixes. The unit does not have an Ethernet connection, does not feature BD Profile 1.1 or 2.0, does not have any persistent storage, and does not decode DTS HD MA - all features of the PlayStation 3. Clearly, the PlayStation 3 is still the preferred entry for anyone wanting to obtain Blu-ray. And for the going rate of the console (the best I have seen is $678 AU from Sony Central), it represents immense value for what you are getting, and I have no hesitation in calling it the best consumer electronics device the industry has ever seen.