With the format war still raging strong, what better way than to try and beat the battle than to opt for a hybrid player that offers both formats in the same box?
LG's BH100 or Super Multi Blue Player does just that, offering playback of both Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD DVD discs from the same machine. But can the marriage work? We get watching movies to find out.
Coming a small but still fatter standardised Hi-Fi box, the LG BH100 is void of all buttons on the front opting instead for five led lit buttons on the top of the player. The buttons, which are more touch sensors than buttons (think Chocolate) offer basic functions like power on/off, play and pause with the main crux of controls being offered on the rather uninspiring remote control and information displayed on a screen on the front.
Round the back and outputs such as HDMI, component/composite video outputs and optical/coaxial/discrete 5.1 channel audio outputs, among others are all present.
Rather than having two separate drive bays as you might expect, the BH100 has just one, that behind the scenes switches out the relevant laser and system to play the disc you've inserted. It does all this automatically rather than you having to tell it what you want to play, however it does mean that you have to wait for it to decide rather than an instant answer. You will, and trust us when we say this, get fed up with the polite, "Please Wait" slogan.
Playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs was very good performance- and quality-wise, however a lack of options on the discs over playing the discs in a standard dedicated player was limited; we couldn't for example access the Blu-ray scene selection mode for Superman Returns.
Aside from playback of both of the next generation formats, the unit also acts as an upscaling DVD player improving your current DVD collection to 1080i playback as well as supporting a number of audio options such as Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, DTS and DTS-HD audio.
As an offering to circumnavigate the format war LG has created a device that means you can get the best of both formats without the worry that you've backed another LaserDisc.
While other manufacturers like Philips say that the BH100 will only confuse customers in the short-term this offering is certainly appealing, until you mention the price.
At £1300 or thereabouts, it would be cheaper to buy a PS3 and top of the range Toshiba HD DVD player (the EX-1) and still have plenty of change making this either a space saving exercise or merely one to show off to your mates.
Bring that price down to something more competitive and until the industry decides which format is going to win out, this will allow you to enjoy the world of high-def video today without the worry of backing the wrong horse.
Great idea, shame about the price.
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