Hey folks, Valkor here. It was a blue night for the folks at Samsung this past Thursday evening (Jun the 15th). But believe me there wasn’t a sad eye in the place. Oh quite the contrary, they had everything NOT to be sad about as Samsung, at a special press event held at The Samsung Experience”, was the first to unveil onto the world, their BD-P1000 Blu-ray player. That’s right Sony and Pioneer both pushed back their releases of their respective players until later this year, but Samsung stuck to their guns and on June 25th, for $1000 big ones you can own the first Bluray Hi-definition DVD player. Ultimately the big question is: Would you want to own a Blu-ray player or shift gears, take a right and head on over to HD-DVD country? It doesn’t matter because in the end, we the consumers will benefit with a great new HD format that will truly bring the movie theater experience home to you.
I’ve already seen what Blu-ray can do at CES 2006, but to actually see and feel an actual working model, well I wasn’t about to sit in the cave and miss the opportunity. The BD-P1000 can output true hi-def in 1080p (using HDMI outputs) plus upscale your DVD’s to near HI-DEF quality. Ok that’s more their words than mine, but I will say this: I was impressed with the showing of what’s to come with the video format. Some clips left me shocked and awed, the T2 demo especially. The scene that was chosen was the part where the T2 is chasing John Conner with Arnie close behind. The hi-def is so good you can make out when it’s Arnie and when it’s his stunt double (You all know the scene). Underworld 2 was another demo that simply blew me away because you can make out the veins in the vampire’s skin and see how liquid blue Selene’s eyes are. Of course there were some so-so demos like Hitch. Sure the film looked sharp, but it’s “Hitch” (Ok yeah it was funny, I liked it, nuff said).
The units themselves were definitely 1st generation. Much like the first DVD’s, the BD-P1000 is a space hog, but not THAT big as compared to 1st generation DVD players. Plus it’s a beautiful hog with a sleek black finish top and that awesome glowing blue Blu-ray insignia on the loading tray door. On the front you have the standard controls and on the back you have all the ports you will need to hook this baby up to your current sound system.
But my honest opinion on the new DVD format as a whole is: the level of detail and sound really doesn’t differ between either format. I’ve seen both and ultimately it will fall on who’s authoring the digital content, what type of television your playing it on, and what kind of sound system you have. If you were to look at a well authored HD-DVD video next to a Blu-ray video, the level of detail, the sharpness of colors, etc would appear the same: awesome! Unless you have an extreme discerning eye for detail, (Which I lack), then neither one will prove different over the other. The only REAL difference between the two is a) Storage and b) Cost. Blu-ray’s got the storage; their discs have more room to breathe than HD-DVD, which means you can get more content onto one disc rather than spanning two or three. However HD-DVD has the cost; their format is much cheaper and right out the box you can get a brand new HD-DVD player for $499 as opposed to a new Blu-ray player which will run you upwards about $1000 and up.
So much like the Beta/VHS war we had so many years ago, we are back once again to see which of the two; Blu-ray or HD-DVD will reign supreme. Honestly, I think the Bluray camp will walk away with the title because. I said it before in my pre-ces preview show report and I will say it again: Blu-ray will come out on top as THE format above all. Now here is the twist, it can be the new format if and only if Sony can succeed with the Playstation 3. If the machine comes out this holiday season with enough software to get it through at least 6 months after its release, then you can consider Blu-ray the winner. I say this because I’m won over by Sony. When the first Playstation came out, it defined gaming to a level where now gaming no longer catered to just geek gamers, people who never cared for gaming were jumping on the Sony bandwagon. Hell the release of Final Fantasy 7 all but solidified the system as being the machine to get overall (It helps that FF7 rocked). And on top of that it helped usher in the CD format which past systems like 3DO and the Sega CD failed to do. When the PS2 was released, Sony did the one thing that Sega and Nintendo never did with their system: They kept the gamer in mind and made the PS2 backwards compatible so that they can play their ps1 games with no problems (but things were buggy as not all games wanted to work with the new hardware.) Not only that, but the PS2 helped boost DVD sales much like what the PS1 did for CD’s. So what does this have to do with the PS3? Everything! The PS3 will come out Blu-ray ready, which means if you have a widescreen LCD, DLP, or Plasma TV then you can take advantage of the PS3 and its Blu-ray functionality to not only game but watch hi-def movies as well. Sure HD-DVD has Xbox 360, and Microsoft has announced an add-on HD-DVD player for it, but that’s an add-on and for the price of what folks paid for a 360 plus an additional player, you can get a PS3 for the same price and it’s ready to go right out the box. So if the Playstation 3 is released on time and sells well going into 2007 then consider Blu-ray the HD the format winner. I’ve said it and I stand by my statement.
Samsung threw a great party and really went all out showing off their Blu-ray player, sadly I can’t really comment further. Aesthetically the player looks great, it sounds great, and the picture quality is just damn good. However this is just the first step, in a long road ahead for the Bluray format. If Blu-ray was the only format out there I would say “Hazaah!!” However since there is more than one format, we have to wait until the fog settles before there is a clear winner. However Samsung is on the right track and the BD-P1000 is an excellent inclusion to the new hi-def DVD format. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for a second generation player. (How about the inclusion of DIVX?)