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The LG BH200 dual-format HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc player  (Source: LG)
LG hybrid player to support the latest in Blu-ray Disc features

The Blu-ray Disc Association mandated that all players of the format released after October 31 must adhere to an updated feature set that is currently not standard on today’s hardware. The new “full profile” players will include support for picture-in-picture and greater memory capacity, opening the door for more elaborate special feature and documentary extras with Blu-ray Disc movies.

Last month, LG announced the BH200, its second-generation dual-format HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc player. Like the earlier model, the BH200 will play both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies – but added in the new model is support for interactive features on both formats.

At the time of the announcement, it was also reported that the new player would support both HDi and BD-Java, making it one of the first full profile Blu-ray Disc-capable players to hit the market. Video Business corroborates the information, reporting that LG product development director Tim Alessi saying at the HDTV DisplaySearch Conference that the BH200 will be full profile complete.

The new Blu-ray Disc specification will introduce to the format such features that are already an integral part of many HD DVD titles. Warner Bros. released 300 on both high-definition formats, but the HD DVD version was capable of picture-in-picture features and other web-enabled items.

For fans of 300, an executive producer of the film said at a Comic-Con International panel that there may be a second release of the Blu-ray Disc with new content following the release of new picture-in-picture hardware.

Other hardware manufacturers have yet to announce firm dates on their full profile Blu-ray Disc players. Pioneer said that its first full profile machine will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008. Owners of PlayStation 3 will be relieved to learn that adherence to the new specification may come in the form of a firmware update, though the release of such software is unknown.

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By Master Kenobi on 10/18/2007 8:04:06 AM , Rating: 2
But what does it cost? Right now the average dual format player is more expensive than a dedicated player for each format :(

RE: Cost
By omnicronx on 10/18/2007 8:12:02 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't matter, this is just getting the ball rolling. Once budget manufacturers start making these prices will drop dramatically :)

RE: Cost
By Spivonious on 10/18/2007 8:40:33 AM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of people are still waiting to see which format wins. High-definition discs will not gain popularity until the players are under $100 and future compatibility is guaranteed. Too many people got burned with Betamax.

RE: Cost
By oab on 10/18/2007 9:24:56 AM , Rating: 2
DVD really started to take off when you could get a good player for about $200->250, and a cheap player for around $120->150 (CAD).

I would expect that HD DVD/Blu-ray to be about the same.

The movie price also needs to drop. If there is one way HD DVD can win with the price it's that. It's cheaper to make their movies than it is to make blu-ray ones.

I however am waiting until one format wins, or dual-format players are only slightly expensive than buying a single-format player (ala. DVD+R vs. DVD-R)

RE: Cost
By Screwballl on 10/18/2007 11:51:28 AM , Rating: 2
agreed, I am waiting until things settle down before jumping into one or the other. Somehow I think HD-DVD will win out but we may end up with a dual format market for some years.
Until then I am happy with my DVDs and surround sound system. I see no need for all the extras myself.

RE: Cost
By murphyslabrat on 10/18/2007 12:59:30 PM , Rating: 2
It's cheaper to make their movies than it is to make blu-ray ones.

I am not trying to be an ass at all here, this is an honest question: how is an HD-DVD movie cheaper to make? Don't they use the same filming practices for both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray? And, on that subject, what is the difference in volume media costs?

RE: Cost
By Oregonian2 on 10/18/2007 2:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
The movies themselves still cost a zillion dollars, but the HD disks themselves are cheaper to make (uses similar process as "regular" DVDs). I suspect that is what was meant.

RE: Cost
By omnicronx on 10/18/2007 2:05:05 PM , Rating: 2
There are a few reasons;
For one, the process of converting fabs from DVD to HD-DVD is quite easy, and only requires modifications to the existing ones. BD on the otherhand requires a whole and entirely different process, which is much different that to make a DVD.
The second is that 'apparently' BD media costs more to make than HD-DVD, from what i have heard it has to do with the protective layering on BD movies (leaving more space between the plastic and the media which is apparently harder to produce), among a few other things(This is now be debated as from I have seen media costs for the two formats are now very close, with HD-DVD having a slim advantage)

I think the real problems have yet to come, as when HD-DVD/BD become the standard and it comes time for existing DVD fabs to switch over to their chosen standard. HD-DVD adopters will save millions on conversion costs from DVD to HD-DVD fabs, meanwhile BD adopters will have to spend millions to bring in all new equipment.

RE: Cost
By omnicronx on 10/18/2007 12:52:56 PM , Rating: 2
I am really surprised by the amount of people that really think dual format HD players will bottom out at $100 any time soon if ever. These are not DVD players, they do required a lot of processing power let alone the different laser technology (DVD's used a red laser which was very close to CD's so there was not as big of a jump.) Some people have told me a BD player requires the equivalent of around a 2.4-3ghz processor. DVD players were cheap and pretty easy to make, leaving me to believe the original prices for DVD players were elevated so high because it was a new technology, not because of the cost to produce them. It seems with both the HD formats it is a mix of both being a new technology, and the high price to produce the players.

As for who wins, it really doesnt matter if you have a dual format player does it?

RE: Cost
By murphyslabrat on 10/18/2007 1:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
...a BD player requires the equivalent of around a 2.4-3ghz processor

Yep, and it does so because of encryption. Because of mandatory encryption on the content, it requires more than just the decoding engine, it also needs a dedicated device to handle the encryption.

However, through dedicated hardware, you need nothing like a full-featured, 2.4 GHz CPU, even if you're talking about Pentium 4's. It is much better to make a dedicated processor to just handle the media decoding and decryption, like both AMD and NVidia have on their mainstream cards. Furthermore, since HD media focuses on less compressed data, you do not need as beefy of a decoding engine as you did with MPEG-based DVD's. While there is additional overhead due to the higher video resolution and audio sampling-rates, I doubt it would be a significant hit for something that does little to no rendering.

For programs to be run on the player you do need some general purpose hardware, but it can easily be handled by low-power, low-cost solutions. After all, cell-phones can run Java.

RE: Cost
By omnicronx on 10/18/2007 1:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
BD-JAVA is very intense, and requires more power than you would think and can not be compared directly to java that is used on cell phones. I agree with everything you have to say, but much more processing power, regardless of how it is done (chip per use basis) is needed for the new generation of players, and this must at least somewhat effect the prices.
I stand by my opinion that players (even 1 format) will not reach the 100$ barrier for some time, and will take much longer than it did for DVD.

RE: Cost
By omnicronx on 10/18/2007 1:51:29 PM , Rating: 2
And to make things worse, the BD1.1 spec actually adds 2 decoders.
The 1.1 spec is a hardware profile that adds a secondary video decoder (typically used for picture in picture), secondary audio (typically used for interactive audio and commentary) and capability of supporting a minimum of 256 MB of local storage (for storing audio/video and title updates)
More proof prices will not be going down anytime soon. A DVD player has what 1 chip for decoding video, 1 chip for decoding audio. That could potentially be twice the cost right there.

RE: Cost
By wordsworm on 10/18/2007 11:28:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of people are still waiting to see which format wins. High-definition discs will not gain popularity until the players are under $100 and future compatibility is guaranteed. Too many people got burned with Betamax.

Comparing VHS to Beta isn't nearly the same as comparing BR to HDD. To get two formats in one machine for VHS and Beta would always require two separate trays for tapes. The whole mechanics of the formats was different. For BR and HDD, you're just spinning discs. You don't need a whole additional drive.

What is going to happen is simple: the two formats will survive. The two companies will put BR and HDD in every machine. In 5 years each box will cost about $100. High end movies will be made using BR, and the cheaper variants will use HDD. It seems pretty clear to me.

RE: Cost
By AlexWade on 10/18/2007 8:40:59 AM , Rating: 2
I saw Crutchfield advertise the Samsung dual player at $800. I would expect it to be full featured too. Expect something in that range.

The real question is, does it supported the accursed BD+? That gave early Blu adopters headaches when Fox movies came out with it. (BD+ is the reason why Fox loves Blu-Ray. I personally believe that without BD+, Blu-Ray studio support would be very low.)

RE: Cost
By Carl B on 10/18/2007 9:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
Every BD player supports BD+; those that didn't at the launch of the titles have now received the appropriate firmware updates.

RE: Cost
By ChristopherO on 10/18/2007 1:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't quite a fair comparison. Dual format players are made for AV enthusiasts. As a result, they feature high-end features (HQV, analog 7.1 out, etc). Sure you can buy two-entry level players for less, but realistically a combo player is a fantastic savings if you had intended to buy two high-end devices.

The Toshiba XA2 is $799, comparable Blu players start at a similar price and go up from there.

Come next Christmas, I'm sure there will be dual format players designed for the mass-market, and thus dumping a lot of the costly extras the current players contain.

RE: Cost
By Chernobyl68 on 10/18/2007 5:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
its the nature of the competitive market to lower prices to entice a wider customer base. Eventually, the prices will come down. Its a matter of when, not if, the prices will lower.

greater capacity
By Silver2k7 on 10/18/2007 9:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
what does "greater memory capacity" mean.. is that dual, tripple, quad layer discs or something ?

Is dual layer discs standard yet ?

RE: greater capacity
By Fallen Kell on 10/18/2007 10:43:35 AM , Rating: 2
"what does "greater memory capacity" mean.. is that dual, tripple, quad layer discs or something ?"

It means more memory, i.e. more RAM.

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