|Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Player|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Saturday, 01 July 2006|
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Much of what you are paying for with this $1,000 player is the ability to output the holy grail of HDTV, 1080p. Most people do not have a display that can accept a true input. I don’t consider this a flaw of the machine, but rather a misleading tactic from an industry that so heavily sold consumers on the buzz on 1080p, when they were actually selling sets that can’t accept 1080p signals. Just recently, a good friend of mine was crowing about his new 1080p set and how we’ll be able to watch movies in 1080p when he gets his Blu-ray player. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he would need an even newer and more expensive display for his dream to come true. You’ll want to be armed with this information before buying a new player and TV combination, if getting to true 1080p picture is important to you. If you are getting ready to pop for a new HDTV, you will want to make sure it can take a true HDTV input so that you can get the most from Blu-ray.
At $1,000, it was surprising to me that this player does not feature an RS-232 port which is a long-standing industry standard used by custom installers and system integrators who command the connection reliability that the format provides. The $499 HD-A1 HD DVD player from Toshiba does not feature RS-232 connections. However, its big brother, the $799 HD DVD player from Toshiba, does. No RS-232 connections will require one of those ugly IR repeaters to be stuck on the front of the case and, although the Samsung player is faster than the Toshiba HD DVD players, it is slow enough that I would guess some of the commands sent to the machine in a complex series of macros could easily get missed along the way. Worse yet, getting a Crestron or AMX system (or an impatient client) to calmly wait for unusually long delays in start-up will have installer’s cell phones ringing off the hook. At $1,000 in price, there is simply no excuse for not having an RS-232 control port. Shame on Samsung for this. The likes of Pioneer and Sony should take note: the CEDIA world of custom installers will not take kindly to you missing this needed feature.
The build quality of the Samsung does not rival the cheaper of the two Toshiba units. It’s is a nice-looking player, but has a bit of a flimsy feel to it and the remote is so bad that it is really something I use only when programming the machine or starting up and stopping a disc. I’m pretty patient, but hunting to find the various pause, rewind and skip options on the remote is a bit of a nightmare. This is shame as, like HD DVD, Blu-ray has cool onscreen menus that you can access while watching a movie instead of having to go back to the main menu, but this feature isn’t what makes or breaks this format. The picture does.
The way that the films transfers are done seemingly varies quite a bit. I know it is a very inexact science and there are variables that come into play that I don’t even have time for here in this review, but like me, you will find that range is quite wide. You have poor with “The Terminator,” good with “The Fifth Element” and “50 First Dates,” and then you have unbelievable, call-your-friends-and-invite-them-over-now good with “xXx” and “The House of Flying Daggers.” Watching what this machine can do has me longing for a better line-up of titles. No “Spider-Man 2” yet? What gives?
If you are starved for HDTV and have the money and equipment, I say jump on board and support Blu-ray and HD DVD both. If you are looking at the two formats side by side and want to put your money into one of them, I’d say that your decision should be based on the pending titles from each format. It is an absolute tragedy that we as consumers have to be forced to chose one or the other, unless we want to shell out $1,500 dollars at a minimum for two players, then add at least $300 or more on to get some kind of HDMI video switching or a new TV set that has multiple HDMI inputs, or a new receiver or AV preamp that has two if not three HDMI inputs, assuming your cable or satellite box is HDMI. It would be a shame to not be able to take advantage of the video performance benefits of HDMI with all of your HD sources, but it sure makes you stop and think how you are going to switch all these sources.
They say the cutting edge of technology is a sharp one and it’s also an expensive one. Make no mistake about it. It’s pricey to get into Blu-ray. There will surely be lower-priced options at some point, but the players that are slated for release later in the year are more expensive than this player. The Pioneer that is going to be released later this year is expected to be $1,500, and even if you wait for Sony’s PS3, that is going to most likely be around $600. Good luck finding one before spring of 2007 if you aren’t already lined up in front of your local electronics store now.
The Samsung BD-P1000 is far from perfect, but it works a heck of a lot better than the two Toshiba offerings. You have to pay the price for this performance and you run the risk of betting on the “losing horse,” but if you want to see more than the highly compressed offerings in HD on satellite or cable, you’ve got to get one of the two formats. With Sony’s PS3 being Blu-ray-based and the HDTV discussion groups full of talk about how to get the Toshiba players to work more reliably, you should seriously take a look at Samsung’s first Blu-ray player. Personally, I am betting on the horse named Blu-ray.