And then there were two.
Samsung will join its archrival LG in releasing a combo HD disc player later this year. According to a brief press release, the Korean consumer electronics giant will introduce the BD-UP5000 "Duo HD" player this year. The release also specified that the player will "fully support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats and their interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java." No pricing or additional feature details on the Samsung BD-UP5000 were made available.
The official announcement of the BD-UP5000 confirms rumors that have been percolating for months. Most recently, Home Theater Blog posted this tasty bit, which correctly pegged the model number. The Samsung player would join the LG BH100 as the only current video machines that can play both HD disc formats. The BH100 lacks HDi support, however, so the interactive menus and features available on the most advanced HD DVD discs can't be fully displayed--something Samsung is promising to deliver. We're hoping that Samsung also offers better next-gen audio soundtracks support, which was the other big drawback of the BH100.
It could be months before we get a fuller picture of the BD-UP5000--including a complete feature list, a specific release date, and a price. In the meantime, the announcement alone is likely to depress the already anemic sales of Blu-ray and HD DVD movies and players. After all, with the promise of a full-service universal player arriving in the near future, why rush to pay $330 to $1,300 for a device that plays only one format? Samsung itself might want to answer that question: the company's Blu-ray-only BD-P1200 (pictured) is just hitting stores now--for $800.