We can't help but be a little skeptical, but according to a Samsung representative, the new Samsung BD-UP5000 Blu-ray/HD DVD combo player will have onboard decoding for all high-resolution audio formats following a firmware update, including DTS-HD Master Audio. This is great news for high-def disc fans, as the BD-UP5000 would be the first player we're aware of that has onboard decoding for DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS's losslessly compressed soundtrack format. The same representative also confirmed that both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks can be output over the analog 7.1 outputs, which will be useful for audiophiles with older receivers.
The BD-UP5000 will also be capable of sending these high-resolution soundtracks in bit-stream format to compatible AV receivers, although Advanced Content flags on certain discs could limit the usefulness of this feature (if you're interested, HDTV magazine has a good summary of the issue). We'll do hands-on testing of this issue as soon as we get our hands on a new bit-stream enabled player. Of course, with onboard decoding, you'll be able to output high-resolution audio in PCM format over HDMI, avoiding the Advanced Content flags issue.
With HQV video processing, 1080p output at 24 frames per second, full support for all high-resolution soundtrack formats (eventually) and the ability to play both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, the BD-UP5000 looks to deliver all of the major features that enthusiasts have been asking for. It's definitely a little annoying that the BD-UP5000 has a firmware update scheduled before it's released, and we've been burned enough times on promised firmware updates to be a little skeptical. Still, at $1,000 the BD-UP5000 is looking like a very solid choice for high-def movie enthusiasts, and could foreshadow a way out of the format war.