With regards to Blu-ray and HD-DVD: remember how we keep saying that first-generation technology has its share of bugs and that we expect things to improve in later generations? Well, it may happen sooner rather than later. The Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player--which, although it delivered a pretty good picture, still exhibitedor anybody else expected--reportedly shipped with a faulty chip. The company's engineers blame the player's Genesis scaler chip, which apparently shipped with a noise-reduction feature turned on, which had the effect of softening the image.
The Perfect Vision reports that the flaw was first discovered by a Sony executive, who noticed that the Samsung player didn't measure up to the quality he'd seen on the master recordings. Samsung rep Jim Sandusky, as quoted in TPV, backed up the story: "Samsung is currently working to revise the default settings on the noise-reduction circuit in the Genesis scaler chip to sharpen the picture. All future Samsung BD-P1000 production will have this revision, and we are working to develop a firmware update for existing product." I have a call in to Samsung for an official comment and will update this entry if necessary.
Of course, Sony and other backers of Blu-ray obviously have every reason to curb the growing perception that their format has inferior image quality to HD-DVD. With that in mind, I take this news with another healthy grain of salt and eagerly await the next Blu-ray players from Sony itself--as well as Pioneer and Panasonic--to see if they're indeed better performers than the BD-P1000. Early reports from UltimateAV and The Digital Bits indicate that the Pioneer, at least, produces a sharper picture than the Samsung. I still have doubts that Blu-ray will match the image quality of HD-DVD, at least with Sony titles, mainly because Sony is still using MPEG-2 encoding, which is inferior to the VC-1 encoding used by HD-DVD. Video expert Joe Kane has already voiced his concerns over Sony's choice of encoding formats.
We expect to receive Samsung's firmware update when and if it becomes available and will test it ourselves here at CNET, then update our BD-P1000 review accordingly. Speaking of updates, Toshiba has already issued a firmware update for its HD-A1 HD-DVD player, and we're in the process of updating our review of that unit, too. Isn't first-gen technology fun?
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