So what will the new HD DVD and Blu-ray players look like? How will they be different from each other?
Perhaps we should start with how they will be the same. All the players planned for launch in the near future can play standard DVDs in addition to either HD DVDs or Blu-ray Discs. Some can also play other disc formats but might not play CDs, so check for that. All players should play soundtracks in Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround. Some players may play two-channel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, but if you want multichannel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, check back next year. The same is true for recording capability. And all will have HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) audio/video connections. Most of the current crop do not include Internet connections, which will be necessary for enjoying interactive web-based features in the future.
In addition, all players support the Image Constraint Token (ICT), which can restrict the high-definition signals from being sent to those HDTV sets without digital video connections.
Most new players will upconvert standard-definition DVD signals via HDMI to near HD picture quality, so those DVDs will look better. And don’t worry if you’re confused. There’s a lot of that going on.
Below you’ll find a rundown on nine high-definition DVD players.
Pioneer Elite’s BDP-HD1 Blu-ray Disc player will be available in the summer. It adds HD Home Networking with IP network capabilities via HDMI and was designed with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) guidelines so that content stored on a DLNA-compliant server or Windows XP PC can be easily accessed. msrp: $1,800more info: www.pioneerelectronics.com
Sony’s BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc player is due out in July. It will play BD, BD-R, BD-RE (rewritable), DVD, DVD+/-R and +/-RW, but not CDs. It will output 1080p video signals via HDMI 1.1 and feature DVD upscaling to 1080i, also via HDMI. It will include component video output from 480i to 1080i. msrp: $1,000more info: www.sony.com
Panasonic’s DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Disc player, available in September, will be able to play back CDs. An EZ-Sync HDAVI control function will make it simple to connect and operate multiple Panasonic products. The DMP-BD10 will also include HDMI version 1.2a. msrp: Under $1,500more info: www.panasonic.com
Samsung’s BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player is capable of playing content at 720p, 1080i and 1080p and can play standard DVDs and CDs. It features a memory card reader that supports virtually all media cards and has component video outputs in addition to HDMI.msrp: $999more info: www.samsung.com
Philips’ BDP9000 Blu-ray Disc player, which arrives in September, will play movie titles at 1080p and will play standard CDs and MP3 files. It is housed in a sleek silver cabinet and has a Faroudja scaler for picture quality. msrp: Pricing TBDmore info: www.philips.com
Toshiba’s HD-XA1 does the same as the HD-A1 but with a double-chassis construction for added stability and strength. It also has stabilizing feet, a motorized door that conceals the disc drawer, function buttons and two front USB ports. And the XA-1 includes three different user-selectable interfaces for enhanced customization and a motion-activated backlit remote. msrp: $799more info: www.tacp.com
RCA’s HDV5000 HD DVD player, due out in early summer, will have an Ethernet port to connect to a home network and enable upgrades. The RCA HDV5000 also supports new audio formats such as Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (2-channel) and DTS HD (2-channel) and includes decoders for each. msrp: $499more info: www.rca.com
Toshiba’s HD-AI HD DVD player plays in either 720p or 1080i but not 1080p. It can also play back standard DVDs and CDs, and audio signals can be passed via S/PDIF or HDMI. Standard-definition DVDs can be upconverted for display at 720p or 1080i (through the HDMI output). msrp: $499more info: www.tacp.com
LG will introduce by late summer or early fall a dual-format combination model that plays back both Blu-ray Discs and HD-DVD discs. msrp: No further details or pricing were available, but stay tuned.more info: www.lge.com
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