Reviews are starting to trickle in from those early adopters lucky (?) enough to get their grubby mitts on the first Blu-ray player, the Samsung BD-P1000, ahead of its official launch on June 25. The question on everyone’s mind is: now that I’ve just dropped US$1,000 on a movie player, have I at last scaled the heights of cinematic bliss? The answer is a conclusive “maybe.”
The Digital Bits has posted some first thoughts after spending time with the new player. While image quality appears to be good, 1080i HDMI output looks a little flaky (though component output is fine).
First, when I switch to 1080i, I’m noticing some very obvious scaling issues that I don’t see when the player is set to 720p. … Second, I’m noticing a very slight “studdering” problem. About once a second, or maybe once every few seconds, the video seems to hesitate for just a instant – a tiny fraction of a second.
And although the player starts up and loads discs more quickly than Toshiba’s HD DVD device, it’s no speed demon. Most discs still require at least 30 seconds before being ready for playback. And then, of course, there’s the price tag. For this kind of cash, the device should simply be more polished, which leaves the reviewer to conclude that “the Blu-ray camp has dropped a dud with their big launch, too.” That said, once the HDMI problem was fixed by switching to component video, the picture quality improved noticeably, and a more complete judgment will have to wait for a full review.
A shorter preview from Digit Magazine compliments Samsung on the appearance of the new player and the 10-in-2 integrated card reader. After testing a variety of discs with the unit, the magazine found its load time to vary between 31 and 44 seconds. Once the movie starts playing, though, controls generally seemed more responsive than on the Toshiba HD DVD unit.
The Samsung player isn’t the only Blu-ray device on the market, though; Pioneer also has a new Blu-ray burner out for use in PCs, and the folks over at ExtremeTech put it through its paces. And if you thought the Samsung reviews sounded underwhelming…
Though the drive can burn both Blu-ray disks and DVDs, it can neither read nor write standard CDs. Neither can it handle dual-layer Blu-ray disks. It also can’t be used for watching Blu-ray movies since it includes no playback software, and none is currently on the market. The bottom line is that this is a US$1,000 device for authoring Blu-ray discs and nothing more. Though good for backing up large sets of data or for experimenting with HD video, the Pioneer drive has all the hallmarks of a first-generation product.
The consensus seems to be: unless you need it now, you’re better off waiting a year. Prices will be down, quality will be up, and features will be multiplied. You’ll also have a lot more content to watch on your shiny new device.