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Blu-ray profile 1.1 player round-up

If you want to get a little more out of Blu-ray, then you've probably been waiting for the Full Standard Profile players, allowing impressive extras and interactivity. The wait is over -- the 1.1 players are here

We're into November now, and that means that all new Blu-ray players must conform to the BD Full Standard Profile -- profile 1.1 -- specification. This doesn't mean that all the players on the market now are compliant -- far from it -- but the new ones should be, aside from the Sony PlayStation 3.

Of course, if you're waiting for Internet connectivity, you'll have to hang on for profile 2.0 -- otherwise known as BD-Live players -- but those are already planned and include the new LG Super Multi Blue BH-200, which is hopefully expected on 1 December.

This list isn't every player that is out, or coming out soon -- it's just some of the more interesting ones. -Ian Morris

Panasonic DMP-BD30
This machine gets the award for being the first player on the market with full profile 1.1 compliance. Indeed, it also has the sort of advanced features you'd expect from a new player, including HDMI 1.3 -- good news for audiophiles who want uncompressed DTS and Dolby TrueHD.

The price looks promising too -- at around $500 (£240), it could be one of the best value Blu-ray players on the market. Of course, there is every chance that when it lands on British shores it will have had an iPhone-esqe random price increase due to the premier cost of flogging stuff to us gullible Brits.

Sony PlayStation 3
Okay, here's the thing. The PS3 isn't actually a profile 1.1 player, but it's capable of being so via a firmware update. There is as yet no clear word as to when the update might take place, although rumours point to the new year.

However you look at it, the PS3 remains an excellent entry to the Blu-ray market, because it's an incredibly powerful console it has more scope to improve over time than other players -- plus, you get to play games on it.

Samsung BD-UP5000
We're rather keen on the BD-UP5000. Firstly, it's a fully profile 1.1 compliant player, but the bonus is that it will also happily play your HD DVDs. That's right -- the dual format player has finally come of age.

As much as intellectual property owners would like a format war every week to keep those patent royalty cheques rolling in, it's hardly good for the consumer. We're pleased to see a fully-featured dual player on its way. We're just hoping it has a sensible price tag.

Denon DVD-3800BD
It might cost a tiny bit more than most of us are prepared to pay -- estimates suggest around £1,500 -- but you can be sure the DVD-3800BD it is going to be one hell of a Blu-ray player when it lands in January 2008.

The Denon will also have excellent support for the multitude of audio formats knocking about on hi-def disc formats. It's HDMI 1.3 also makes it a must if you think you'll want uncompressed audio pumping into your AV receiver.

LG BH-200
As much as we liked the BH-100, we couldn't recommend it heartily because it cost a small fortune and didn't support the interactive features of HD DVD. While it suited people who just wanted to play movies, it really felt like a Blu-ray player that would grudgingly play HD DVDs as a little bonus.

The great news is LG has compensated for the shortcomings of the BH-100 by producing an amazing follow-up machine. The BH-200 isn't just a profile 1.1 player, its a full on profile 2.0 player. That means it has 1GB of persistent storage, an Ethernet socket and support for BD-Live. In addition to that, it also fully supports HD DVD and includes logo certification for both formats to prove it.

If LG can keep the price at a sensible level -- rumours of a US $1,000 (£479) RRP are encouraging -- this is going to be the best choice for HD movie fans.