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Sony Preps 'Net Access Features For Blu-Ray

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.

The musical spoof "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi thriller "The 6th 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 (NYSE: SNE) 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 doomed HD DVD rival format offered from day one.

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 available only via the BD-Live download.

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.