In a reversal of its previously exclusive support of the Blu-ray format, Samsung Electronics announced late last week that it is developing a dual-format Blu-ray/HD DVD player, due in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Samsung currently has two Blu-ray decks on the market. The first-generation BD-P1000 launched the format in June 2006, while a second-gen model is due at the end of this month.
Though a hybrid HD DVD/Blu-ray from the company had long been rumored, Samsung had denied any such plans -- until now.
Only a few preliminary details of the new combo unit, which the company has dubbed the BD-UP5000, have thus far been released. The player will support both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, as well as the competing HDi and BD-Java interactive environments.
Though the BD-UP5000 is not the first dual-hybrid high-def player to be announced -- LG Electronics announced their own hybrid deck, the $1000 Super Multi-Blu HD player, in January of this year -- the Samsung deck is the first to fully support HDi.
No firm street date, nor pricing, is yet available, but the company said it expects to deliver the player sometime in the fourth quarter.
"Consumers are hungry for content but are currently confused about competing formats," Dongsoo Jun, Samsung's executive VP of the Digital AV Division, told Video Business. "Samsung's Duo HD player will allow consumers every [high-def] movie title available regardless of the authoring format. As a member of the DVD Forum and contributor to the DVD industry, we recognize that both HD DVD and BD formats have merits. As such, we have decided to market a dual-format player."
Samsung has also gone further in their newfound support for HD DVD, indicating that they are also open to producing a stand-alone HD DVD player in the future "whenever consumers demand it," said Jun. "Our main concern is not technology but consumer choice."
It is also a move that is already drawing praise from dual-format studios. Warner Home Video, which currently releases titles on both Blu-ray and HD DVD, applauded Samsung’s decision to release the dual-format player.
"We welcome Samsung’s Duo HD players as another solution in the marketplace that will help reduce consumer confusion and buyer hesitancy toward [high-def] media," said Ron Sanders, WHV president. "This is an innovative product that can move us closer to mainstream consumer adoption of [high-def] technologies."
We'll keep you posted as more news on the BD-UP5000 as it comes in. Stay tuned...