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Another Samsung Blu-ray/HD DVD combo player

Samsung announces a new Blu-ray/HD DVD combo player, but it's not that attractive given recent developments in the format war.

Is Samsung's new combo player still relevant? Samsung

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 Warner's decision to go Blu.

Watch the Samsung BD-UP5500 Duo HD Player video on CNET TV.

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 BD Profile 1.1, 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 with HD DVD canceling its press conference at CES presumably due to Warner's announcement, 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.