Samsung announced final official details on two expensive Blu-ray players today, including the HD DVD-playin' BD-UP5000 we wrote about before, and a new home theater-in-a-box (HTiB) that incorporates a Blu-ray player, the HT-BD2. We're now told the BD-UP5000 will retail for $1,049, and the HT-BD2 will sell for $1,499. Both will ship sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, and will round out the company's five-model series of 2007 Blu-ray players.
After the LG BH-100, the Samsung BD-UP5000 will be the second player to handle both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. It's the first to support the interactive layer of HD DVD, known as HDi, which enables full interactive-menu use. It also features, like all 2007 Samsung Blu-ray players, Ethernet ports, HDMI 1.3 ports and the ability to output 1080p/24 video from Blu-ray (but not HD DVD) discs, although in our tests of the Samsung BD-P1200 and other BD players, 1080p/24 was a letdown on the displays we tested. We did appreciate the BD-P1200's HQV video processing, however, which is also present on the BD-UP5000 and the Blu-ray-only BD-P2400. Like Denon's DVD-3800BDCI, the BD-UP5000 will also enable interactive features like picture-in-picture commentaries (for what they're worth). For all of you keeping track, we haven't confirmed yet whether the Samsung will actually comply with the BD-ROM Profile 1 Version 1.1 spec.
While we lauded the $1200 LG for the groundbreaking combo ability, we can't help but be disappointed in the price of combination players. As many have pointed out before, you can purchase a standalone Blu-ray player and a standalone HD DVD player separately for less money than the price of one of the combo players. One of these combo players also costs around the same price as an Xbox 360 Elite with the HD DVD driveand a PlayStation3, a combination that brings both next-gen disc playback and next-gen gaming.
The HT-BD2, meanwhile, is the first HTiB we've seen announced with a built-in Blu-ray player. That player has the same feature set as the BD-P1400 standalone player (in other words, no HQV processing), yet it stands as part of a 7.1-channel speaker system--that's five tower speakers, two satellite rear speakers and a powered sub--driven by 1,100 watts. Although those specs are impressive for an HTiB, we're skeptical about the HT-BD2's reception from the generally separates-oriented Blu-ray/HD DVD buyer.