Would it really be so bad if there was never an end to the hi-def format war? Would it matter to consumers if players ultimately became able to play both formats? Obviously some early adopters would be miffed, having spent their hard-earned on a player that can only manage one format, but everyone else would win. Right? That's what LG is hoping with the BH-200, its follow-up to the -- aka the Super Multi Blue -- HD DVD and Blu-ray player.
Of course, none of us really believes that Sony or Toshiba will ever start producing players for both formats -- to do so would be to admit defeat and that's something they just won't be prepared to do. Look how long it took Sony to admit Betamax wasn't going to beat VHS.
Anyway, the BH-200 should make all these problems disappear, or at least shrink slightly. It's a fully featured Blu-ray and HD DVD player with full support for all of the advanced features of both formats. On the Blu-ray side, it's a, so you'll be able to make use of all the Blu-ray discs that take advantage of those extra features -- not many currently, but plenty are on the way. On the HD DVD side, the BH-200 scores over the BH-100 by offering full HDi interactivity, so you'll get all the menus and interactivity you would on any other player.
You also get full 1080p output, HDMI 1.3 and QDEO upscaling, to make the most of your existing DVD collection. Like the BH-100, the 200 won't play CDs, which is sure to annoy some people, but as any good audiophile will tell you, you won't get good CD playback from something designed to play video anyway, so it's probably no great loss.
Of course, all of the BH-200's functionality comes at a price: $1,049 (around £500), although it's available online for $999 (£490) -- no word on a UK price yet. And this is our problem with the player: that's really too much. For that kind of cash you can easily buy both an HD DVD and a Blu-ray player and still have enough money left over for a really nice burger.
We applaud LG's efforts, we really do -- the BH-200 is a great idea, but it needs to cost about half the amount it does now before it's an attractive proposition. -Ian Morris