Samsung Ships Blu-ray Players

Samsung Electronics America's first Blu-ray disc players have been shipped to U.S. retailers for availability starting this Sunday, June 25. Samsung's player (model BD-P1000) for the next-gen disc format means that both high-def DVD formats will start to go head-to-head in the marketplace by next week.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and LionsGate Pictures plan to release some Blu-ray movie titles starting this week, with most of the eight major studios to follow in the weeks ahead. However, even by year's end, there apparently will only be a few hundred Blu-ray titles from which to choose--as Hollywood, media critics, and consumers take a bit of a wait-and-see attitude in a DVD war that features two incompatible formats. (The same lack of mass production of titles also goes for HD DVD.)

The BD-P1000 unit will play Blu-ray titles via a native 1080p HDMI output for films digitally mastered in 1920 x 1080p. Samsung said the unit also will upconvert conventional DVD discs to 1080p (through a HDMI digital interface), which should noticeably enhance the video quality of standard discs. The BD-P1000 is backward-compatible (like competing HD DVD units) and supports DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW and DVD+R.

Samsung is also including a 10-in-2 multimemory card interface that supports Compact Flash, Secure Digital, XD Picture Card, Memory Stick and other formats. Connectivity includes HDMI, Component, S-Video and Composite outputs. Compatible audio formats include Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, MP3 and 192 KHz LPCM.

Industry observers will be watching the BD-P1000 and subsequent Blu-ray unit sales closely in coming months (especially during the late-fall holiday selling season) as it competes with HD DVD units--especially since Blu-ray players will be priced noticeably higher than the competition, at just under $1,000.