The other half of the home cinema experience is sound quality. While HDMI is designed to carry both the audio and video signal in the one cable, there are seperate coaxial and optical digital outputs, as well as 5.1-channel and stereo analog connections. The BD-P1000 supports new mutichannel surround sound formats Dolby Digital Plus and lossless DTS HD, which offer improved fidelity.
A handy feature implemented on the BD-P1000 -- and most likely all Blu-ray players we'll see -- is the interactive pop-up menu accessible via the remote, which uses Java to superimpose the special features, scene selections and language options onscreen during playback of a movie, allowing you to change subtitles on-the-fly and skip ahead to certain points in the title with the assistance of thumbnail images.
As the Blu-ray Disc format is in its infancy, there isn't very much content available at the moment. Samsung bundled two discs with our review unit: action flick S.W.A.T and a music video clip compilation Legends of Jazz: Showcase. While we had some issues with the black levels during dark scenes in S.W.A.T, we think it was more of an issue with the Samsung LCD we tested the BD-P1000 with rather than the player itself. Picture sharpness, however, lives up to its reputation as being far superior to DVD. During playback of a Blu-ray instore demo disc we managed to get our hands on, we were blown away with the clarity and sharpness that the format provides. In particular, the animated feature Chicken Little looked nothing short of spectacular, with vibrant colours and detail appearing in places that simply looked grainy and blurred on DVD in comparison.
We were also impressed with the BD-P1000's ability to upscale our existing DVD collection -- while the quality wasn't nearly as good as the Blu-ray discs we tested, DVD content appeared less blocky and jagged on the 1080p Samsung TV. There also seemed to be finer detail to elements such as water reflections, hair texture and detail on people's faces, but again, these types of images on Blu-ray content was far more stiking.
Photos stored on memory cards look magnificent output through the BD-1000 to high-definition TV, with incredible detail shown when set to 1080p. It's a good thing that they look so good, as you need to be mesmerized to withstand the load time between shots -- we found it took around 20 seconds to skip between 10-megapixel photos and about 10 seconds to display 5-megapixel images, even with the slideshow speed set to its fastest mode.
Although those passionate about high-definition probably won't be deterred by a format war or a lack of Blu-ray titles, we'd recommend waiting until it becomes a little more clear which format is going to be widely adopted so you're not stuck with an expensive player that could be obsolete in a couple of years. An additional cost to factor in is the price of an HD television with HDMI if you want to get the most out of this $1,599 player. Mass production of Blu-ray players is expected next year, which should see the asking price drop significantly. Stay tuned to CNET.com.au as we'll soon be comparing Toshiba's rival HD DVD players, the HD-EX and HD-EX1, to see how they stack up against the Samsung BD-P1000.