Samsung announces “Duo HD” Blu-ray/HD DVD player

And then there were two: Samsung will join its archrival LG in releasing a combo HD disc player later this year. According to a brief press release, the Korean consumer electronics giant will bow the BD-UP5000 “Duo HD” player before the end of 2007. The release also specified that the player will “fully support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats and their interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java.” No pricing or additional feature details on the Samsung BD-UP5000 were made available

The official announcement of the BD-UP5000 confirms rumors that have been percolating for months. Most recently, Home Theater Blog posted this tasty bit, which correctly pegged the model number. The Samsung player would join the LG BH100 as the only current video machine that can play both HD disc formats. However, the BH100 lacks HDi support, so it can’t fully display the interactive menus and features available on the most advanced HD DVD discs–something Samsung is promising to deliver. We’re hoping that Samsung also offers better support for next-gen audio soundtracks, which was the other big drawback of the BH100.  It could be months before we get a fuller picture of the BD-UP5000–including a complete feature list, a specific release date, and a price. In the meantime, the announcement alone is likely to depress the already anemic sales of Blu-ray and HD DVD movies and players. After all, with the promise of a full-service universal player in the near future, why rush to pay $330-$1,300 for a device that only plays one format? Samsung itself might want to answer that question: the company’s Blu-ray-only BD-P1200 (pictured) is just hitting stores now–for $800.

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