In announcing the firmware update Wednesday, Sony also introduced a new Blu-ray 3-D-ready player called the BDP-S470. The firmware upgrade will work on the new product, as well as the previously announced BDP-S570 Blu-ray disc player and the BDV-E770W and BDV-E570 home theater systems.
All of the systems are Internet-enabled for accessing online video or movies from sites such as Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. In addition, the products offer access to Sony's entertainment database, which offers details on actors and production information related to movies on a Blu-ray disc.
Sony also offers an application called BD Remote on the Apple App store that makes it possible to use an iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote control.
The new BDP-S470 player is scheduled to be available this month at retailers for about $200. For $50 more, the previously announced BDP-S570 offers built-in Wi-Fi support.
The two home theater systems are scheduled to be available in March. The BDV-E570 will cost about $550 and the BDV-E770W $650. Both products have 1 GB of storage and support Wi-Fi through a USB adapter. The more expensive model has a few additional features, such as noise reduction for Web content.
Sony is one of several major consumer electronics companies betting that 3-D in the home will eventually catch on, driven by its growing popularity in theaters. As an example, the recently released Avatar movie by director James Cameron, with a popular 3-D version, is the biggest box office hit ever.
Along with Blu-ray 3-D players, Sony is scheduled to launch this summer 3-D televisions. The most notable is the LX900 line, which includes built-in Wi-Fi and will range in size from 40 inches to 60 inches. Pricing hasn't been disclosed. Other consumer electronics makers planning to release 3-D sets include Panasonic, LG, and Samsung.
In January, Sony formed a joint venture with Discovery Communications and IMAX to build a 24-hour 3-D television network in the United States. The network will feature content from genres that lend themselves to 3-D imagery, such as natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures, and children's programming.
Meanwhile, Walt Disney's ESPN has also announced plans to launch its own 3-D TV network. Called ESPN 3-D, the network will showcase at least 85 live sporting events during its first year, which will start with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match June 11 between South Africa and Mexico.