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If like us you're sick and tired of the whole HD DVD/Blu-ray disc format war madness currently paralysing what should be a buoyant next-gen video market, LG's BH100 could quite possibly be the answer to your HD prayers. Why? Simply because it's the first deck in the UK able to play both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. No industry politics. No pathetic ‘but technically it's very hard to make a combi deck' excuses. No ‘let's wait and see which format wins before we do anything' procrastination. Here's a deck that just plays both disc types without charging a huge premium for the privelege, and in doing so finally gives us punters what we've been crying out for. Um, except that, depressingly, it turns out that it doesn't.
The early signs, however, are rather promising. For the BH100 is really quite exquisitely designed in its matt black fascia, metallic top panel and gorgeously minimalistic buttonry. Also, of course, we can't deny feeling a little tingle of childish joy at the ‘Super Multi Blue Player' logo stuck on the deck's disc tray, reminding us of the tray's ability to devour discs of both Blu-ray and HD DVD flavours.
Connectivity initially looks good too, with the key bases of HDMI output, component video output and digital audio outputs being accompanied by 5.1-channel audio line outputs and what at first glance appears to be a port through which you could access the sort of internet-based features now found on some (especially HD DVD) discs. However, closer investigation reveals that the HDMI is only a 1.2 version rather than the 1.3 specification necessary to enjoy such features as Deep Colour, automatic lip-synching and digital carriage of HD audio formats. And the Ethernet port turns out to be for ‘service' use only, rather than allowing you internet access. Boo.
A trawl for further features uncovers a decidedly mixed bag. On the upside, for instance, the deck can output the 1080p/24Hz video format used by most films when they're encoded onto disc, potentially making for a cleaner appearance of those films when they're passed into suitably capable HD TVs.