Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)

Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)

I just had some hands-on time with Samsung's BD-UP5000 Duo HD, their first hybrid Blu-ray and HD DVD disc player. It's so good, it might as well be called BD-UP-Yours-Format-War. (Get it? Yeah, sorry, that wasn't too funny.) It's not the industry's first hybrid disc player—the LG BH100 has that honor. But it is the first to actually be fully compatible with both, and therefore the one that could end the HD Disc bitch fight.

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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)
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Illustration for article titled Hands-On Samsung's BD-UP5000 Hybrid HD DVD and Blu-ray player (Verdict: So Far, the Best)

Unlike the LG, the BD-UP5000 is fully HD DVD compliant, able to play back all the interactive menus and features that are the hallmark of the format. I tested it with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and things came out flawless. Even though this was a prototype drive. Also, the drive has local storage and Ethernet, which are part of the HD DVD spec.

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The UP5000 also features an HQV Reon processor, the same video scaler and deinterlacer that made the current gen Toshiba HD DVD player's images so good.

Blu-ray discs played fine, and I wish I'd brought along the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest to see if the Blu-ray Java problems persisted. But I doubt that is an issue, given the fact that the bug is well known and was patched across the board last month.

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DISCUSSION

MSRP of $1,049, anxious to see what the street prices turns out at . . . low $900's, high $800's? Probably not a buy at that price, but it is great to see a dual format product out there that works (hopefully there'll be some price competition in this market space when LG intros their Gen2 DF player) with both specs.

The fact that Sammy is going DF should be a least a little bit of a sign to the rest of us that maybe, just maybe, not all is kosher inside the BD camp. I mean think about it, if Sammy REALLY thought BD was going to win, why would they risk pissing Sony off for what can only be described as a niche (right now) product? Also of note: Sammy is, I believe, a founding member of the BD association.

I'm not saying that this DF player means BD is going to fail, merely that things aren't nearly as rosey as the Sony / BDA press releases would have you believe. I look for both formats to co-exist for quite some time. Eventually, perhaps, titles that require BD's extra storag and extra bandwidth will be released on BD (with the requisite higher authoring and replication costs) and those titles that require neither will get published on HD DVD. Hard to tell really, as the industry likes to have a single format.