Just a month ago, home theater enthusiasts were clamoring Samsung's soon-to-be released BD-UP5000 HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player, which promised high-end features like HQV processing and the ability to decode DTS-HD Master Audio (after a future firmware update). But the BD-UP5000 was delayed, and now it's likely to face less demand considering
The same goes for Samsung's newly announced combo unit, the BD-UP5500. It appears that the main step-down from the BD-UP5000 is that it lacks HQV video processing, which will disappoint videophiles, but should make it available at a lower price point. Soundtrack support is solid, with onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus the ability output high resolution audio in bitstream format. Samsung specifically mentions full support for HDi and , so it should have no problem with special "picture-in-picture commentary" features available on some HD DVD and (future) Blu-ray discs. Rounding out the feature set is an Ethernet connection for firmware upgrades and some HD DVD interactive features.
Just a few weeks ago, a step-down combo player might have been attractive to those looking to into high-def discs without worrying about the format war. But withat CES presumably due to , the general feeling in the industry is that HD DVD days are numbered--which makes a combo player seem like a waste of money. The BD-UP5500 will be available in May 2008--and we'll certainly know more about the format by then--but don't be surprised if it already feels like an anachronism by then.