LG's BH100 Blu-ray/HD DVD Player Oxford MS
LG's BH100 Blu-ray/HD DVD Player
March 19, 2007 By Marshal M. Rosenthal
Everyone wants high-definition, so it seems everyone would want a high-definition DVD player. But most people are sitting on the fence rather than investing in Blu-ray or HD DVD, the two high-def DVD formats launched last year. Maybe it's less about what the player costs or which movie studio supports which format, and more about nobody wanting to be stuck with Beta when everyone has gone VHS. But now you can dismount the fence with confidence, thanks to LG Electronics. The company's BH100 Super Blu Player plays both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
Although you can actually purchase separate HD DVD and Blu-ray players for less than the BH100's price, the convenience of having one unit—and the impossibility of placing your high-def DVDs in the wrong player—will make the BH100 an attractive option for many despite its lack of interactive functionality with HD DVD discs . (Click image to enlarge)
The BH100 is a straightforward movie machine: It plays ordinary DVDs, too, but does not play CD, SACD, or DVD-Audio, and it also lacks extras like USB and memory card slots. Unlike HD DVD players (and some Blu-ray models), there is no Ethernet port for accessing updates or special disc features over the Internet.
Fortunately, the new audio formats which HD DVD takes for granted but some Blu-ray players lack are here too: Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD (two-channel only). Like all of the first-gen HD DVD and Blu-ray players, the BH100 is equipped with version 1.2 of the HDMI digital video/audio output. Version 1.3 (currently available only on Sony's Playstation 3) is necessary to convey these high-resolution audio formats digitally to some future surround-sound receiver or processor equipped to play all these formats. However, you can still enjoy DTS-HD and the new Dolby formats by connecting six cables from the BH100's analog multichannel output to your surround processor's multichannel input.
Video plays at 1080p resolution, but here's the rub: Just about all HDTVs right now accepting an external 1080p input do so at 60 frames per second, or 1080p/60. HD DVD/Blu-ray discs contain 1080p content at 24 frames per second (being film's native speed) or 1080p/24. Right now, most HD players reprocess the signal to 1080p/60 to be compatible with the displays out there. But the LG outputs 1080p/24 as is, causing 1080p/60 displays (such as my Samsung LED HDTV) to refuse the signal. For these displays, the BH100 lowers the resolution to 1080i, which the display can then convert to 1080p. Since there's no mention of this in the manual, I can see it being a source of confusion—it is to me until I get the skinny direct from LG. But few people are likely to notice the difference in picture quality, especially on displays measuring 47 inches or less.
The same week I receive the BH100, I also get a prototype of the new HD DVD version of the Digital Video Essentials test DVD. It's brimming with ways to bring ou...