Blu-ray, Sony enhance their profile on DVD


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is targeting April 8 as the date it will release its first batch of Blu-ray Disc titles that can be connected to the Internet for more bonus materials and features.

Upcoming Blu-ray Discs "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and "The Sixth Day" will be the studio's first two BD-Live titles. Their release coincides with the launch of a new software update for Sony's PlayStation 3 that makes the game console the first Blu-ray player with Internet connectivity, an ability known as "Profile 2.0."

Ultimately, all Blu-ray players will be Profile 2.0. When the format launched in June 2006, Blu-ray players were of the basic Profile 1.0 kind, meaning they could offer neither picture-in-picture nor Internet connectivity, something the rival HD DVD format offered from Day 1.

In October, Blu-ray supporters took aim at that HD DVD advantage and said it would no longer produce any players that could not at least offer picture-in-picture, known as Profile 1.1.

Now, the big push is for Profile 2.0 players, which are slated to start coming to market in the next few months. Accordingly, studios are scrambling to produce final spec BD-Live software as well, with Lionsgate leading the charge in January with "War" and "Saw IV" — a bold move, considering there weren't yet any players on the market that could tap into the discs' Web-enhanced content.

Sony's two BD-Live titles each include exclusive downloadable theatrical and home video previews along with a FAQ about BD-Live functionality. "Walk Hard" includes three featurettes that star Bill Hader as Derek Stone, a historian and expert "Coxologist." These featurettes are only available via the BD-Live download.

"These releases offer entertainment enthusiasts just a glimpse of some of the remarkable new features that will soon be available on high-definition Blu-ray Disc," said Lexine Wong, senior executive vp worldwide marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

BD-Live titles also have the potential to enable a wide range of Web-based features, including ringtone and wallpaper downloads, peer-to-peer interactions, live virtual events and gaming.