Sony Launches SMP-N100 Bravia Media Player in US and UK Flavors

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by Jacqueline Emigh

With an announcement of its Internet TV widely expected in mid-October, Sony is now getting ready to ship a UK version of the SMP-N100 Network Media Player which has already been selling in a US edition for the past month.

Both editions of the WiFi-enabled media player stream Sony’s Bravia Internet services along with other content. The UK version – unveiled this week and slated for October delivery to stores– adds some UK-specific content.

SMP-N100 Network Media Player The UK version is also much costlier, at about 120 British pounds, than the $129 US edition, available on this side of the Atlantic through Web-based sales since its introduction during the last week of August. (At today’s exchange rates, $129 in US dollars translates into 81.68 British pounds, or about two-thirds as much as the planned UK price tag of 120 British pounds.)

Otherwise, the two standalone media streamers look to be the same. Essentially, the SMP-N100 lacks the Blu-ray drive player (BDP) present in Sony’s BDP-5570, currently priced at between $139 and $159 on Amazon.com, for instance.

However, the N100 adds support for more multimedia formats, such as DivX and MKV. Unless you need a new way to play Blu-ray disks, the N100 might turn out to a better deal, especially after initial pricing starts to fall.

The N100 is also enabled with 802.11n WiFi; 1080p full HD video; DLNA connectivity; USB and HDMI ports; and remote control through downloadable iPhone and Android applications. The media player doesn’t include a built-in hard disk drive (HDD), either, but external storage devices can be hooked up through USB.

Initially available content varies for US and UK
With the N100, users who don’t own more Bravia-enabled Sony HDTVs or BDPs are now able to access Bravia services.

SMP-N100 Network Media Player Through Sony’s Bravia, you can get Netflix video rentals; YouTube; the Panda music service; Amazon VoD; Sony’s Qriocity VoD; exclusive channels like Michael Jackson, the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Dr. Oz; and popular online channels such as Crackle, Slacker, National Public Radio (NPR), and Epicurious.com.

You don’t get access to Hulu or Boxee, but Sony will probably remedy this situation later this year with its anticipated release of Hulu Plus on Bravia.

Out of the box, the UK version will add access to content that includes BBC iPlayer; LOVEFILM movie rentals; Demand Five, and FIFA football highlights.

Reportedly, sales are also planned through retail stores elsewhere in Europe, but other country-specific content has yet to be announced.

Is Google TV support on the way?
It’s unclear why the UK version of the N100 will be that much pricier than the US edition. Yet in the US, at least, Sony stands to run up against the rumored $90 Apple TV, as well as existing retail competition in the $100 bracket from standalone streamers put out by vendors like Western Digital (WD) and Roku.

For the moment, at least, there’s no support in the N100 for the Internet search-oriented Google TV, even though Sony announced plans earlier this year to enable its consumer electronics (CE) products for Google’s initiative.

It’s quite possible, however, that Google TV support could be on the way to Sony’s media player, along with the Internet TV that Sony is expected to announce in the US in mid-October.

Right now, the US edition of the SMP-N100 is being advertised for sale on Sony Style’s USA site, as well as through online product purveyors such as NewEgg.

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