LG threw journalists a launch party this week to announce the UK availability of the world's first combo Blu-ray/HD DVD player. So what's the what?
Well, in most senses, the BH100 (which Riyad first spied at CES) delivers: as LG promised there is support for both rival formats and – in a surprise statement – custom software to recreate the menus missing from its lack of support for HDi.
The player is also capable of outputting both Blu-ray and HD DVD content at 1080p while the design certainly saves space and cuts down wires compared to buying two dedicated players. Yet there is a catch...
...and the catch is price. The BH100 will arrive in UK stores this May for a corking £1,000. This is enough for a person to buy both dedicated HD DVD and Blu-ray players (Sammy's BD-P1000 can now be found for under £500 online) AND have enough change for a number of discs. Alternatively, you could buy a Sony PlayStation 3 for Blu-ray and gaming, plus a dedicated HD DVD player AND a number of games/movies.
I'll concede that both these alternative options take up more space than a BH100 given they will provide full Blu-ray and HD DVD Interactive functionality AND cost less you're paying one heck of a price for those extra few feet of space.
Another challenge just over the hill also awaits the BH100 in the form of Samsung's recently announced multiformat player, the BD-UP5000. This, the Samsung claims, will have full Blu-ray and HD DVD functionality (incl. Interactivity), a 'summer' arrival date and – what's more – it isn't hard to see it at least matching the BH100's premium price.
So dual format players are almost here and LG claims to have solved the format war with an admittedly ground breaking and noble pioneering attempt. That said, is lumping everything inside a single box while losing some of the functionality really a solution when it costs more than buying two dedicated players (plus a bundle of discs for each) separately?