If you’re lucky you may – but only may – be able to access one or two of the extra features available on an HD DVD. But only if they happen to correspond to the fiddly list of chapter and title numbers that the LG coughs up along the bottom of the screen if you press the menu button. And even then you have no idea which chapter or title number refers to which disc feature, so your choice is simple pot luck. You could, say, easily end up with a ‘making of’ documentary when you wanted a photo gallery. Hmm. Suddenly this supposedly cutting-edge machine isn’t looking quite so high-tech, is it?
Surely, you’ll probably be thinking, this HDi problem can be solved by some kind of future firmware update. But no; LG assures us that no such update is in the offing or, indeed, possible.
With the BH100 letting us down on so many fronts already, it’s almost depressingly ironic to find that its video performance is really rather good.
During playback of HD DVD and Blu-ray titles alike, we were consistently struck by the extreme sharpness of pictures, the richness and naturalness of their colour palettes, and the depth of black level on show. All these things show HD off admirably, and immediately conspire to make going back to standard definition DVDs – even ones upscaled reasonably well by the BH100’s processing – really hard to stomach.
Inevitably there are some performance compromises compared with the best of the finest ‘one format only’ HD players out there. For instance, pictures look a touch noisier than we know they can, and fast moving objects seem to lose a little resolution at times. We’ve also heard slightly more precision and dynamism in the presentation of movie soundtracks than the BH100 can deliver.
But there’s definitely nothing about the BH100’s performance that we wouldn’t have been more than happy to live with it – had the deck only delivered on all of its other promises.
We guess it’s possible to see a small ray of hope in the BH100. After all, it certainly proves that a combi player can deliver good quality video playback from both next-gen formats.
However, that ray of hope applies to future products only. For as it stands the BH100 feels like a merely half-finished affair that compromises the full potential of both HD formats to far greater a degree than we’re willing to accept.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7