Update: This post has been updated to reflect that LG has confirmed that the BH200 can output DTS-HD Master Audio in bitstream format, that it fully supports Blu-ray profile 1.1 and has only stereo analog outputs.
LG was the first company to come out with an HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player--the LG BH100--which made a big splash at CES 2007 and won CNET's "Best in Show" award. At CEDIA today, LG announced its second combo player, the BH200, which looks to improve on many of the shortcomings of the BH100. The most significant failing of the BH100 was its limited support for the interactive features available on HD DVD discs, also known as HDi. According to the press release, the BH200 will support HDi functionality, along with network-enhanced HD DVD features, available on some discs such as Blood Diamond. On the Blu-ray side, it should also support BD-Java functionality (as seen on the newer Pirates of Caribbean discs), as well as picture-in-picture functionality. (While picture-in-picture functionality is standard on all HD DVD players, it is not required on Blu-ray players until October 31.)
LG BH200's key features
- Full HDi support on HD DVD discs
- Picture-in-picture support for both HD DVD and Blu-ray (fully Blu-ray profile 1.1 compliant)
- 1080p output at 24 frames per second
- Onboard decoding for Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD
- Bitstream output for DTS-HD Master Audio
- HDMI 1.3 output, with Deep Color support
- Ethernet port
- $1,000 list price, mid-October release date
Of course, with a $1,000 list price, you can buy both the PlayStation 3 and Toshiba HD-A2 for less than the BH200, but you won't get the convenience of a single player. The price is definitely too high for the average consumer, but the BH200 could be popular in the enthusiast community, depending on the specifics of its functionality. For example, the press release doesn't mention support for Dolby TrueHD--either via onboard decoding or bitstream output--but we have to imagine there will at least be two-channel Dolby TrueHD support, since that is required in the HD DVD specification and the BH200 features the official HD DVD logo.
The BH200 will also have to compete with Samsung's combo player, the BD-UP5000 ($1,000), which has a very impressive feature set including HQV upconversion (which can improve both DVD and high-definition disc playback performance), 1080p/24 output, and what looks to be support for all of the high resolution audio formats, including DTS-HD Master audio--although it will take a firmware update before DTS-HD Master Audio is enabled.