Pioneer got the jump on its rivals in announcing the first Blu-ray player to hit the market today at CES, even if it was only thanks to press conference timing. However, when it launches in June the BDP-HD1 won't come cheap. This 1080p compatible player will cost $1,800, and it doesn't even record to the format.
The player is geared at the high-end early adopter, which could give Toshiba the upper hand with its $500 budget HD DVD player. Pioneer's BDP-HD1 supports HDMI connectivity, for full digital video and audio down one cable, and it will connect to a Windows PC so that you can stream media across a network. The audio formats used on Blu-ray include new high-definition versions of existing standards, including DTS HD and Dolby Digital. It will also upscale existing DVD movies up to 1080p resolution, which is another high-level feature unseen aside from high-end DVD players from people like Marantz.
Pioneer is also set to release a PC Blu-ray player in the first quarter of the year, although the price for the BDR-101A is still high at $1,000. The drive will read from Blu-ray discs and write to existing DVD formats. We expect that similar Blu-ray machines from manufacturers such as Philips and Panasonic will release much cheaper models. Keep an eye on Crave for more news as it happens. -GC