Panasonic BMP-BD10

As the first home entertainment based Blu-Ray player to hit the market, Samsung's BD-P1000 has some big expectations to live up to. Offering video output at resolutions all the way up to 1080p, HDMI and a variety of basic functions, this device is an innovative product that is perfect for early adopters. Like most new technology however, don't expect it to come cheaply.

As players like these and Toshiba's HD-DVD devices begin to enter the market, they really begin to usher in the new age of High Definition into the Australian market place. These technologies promise superior picture quality, higher storage capacity and improved features. The BD-P1000 succeeds in all these areas, although its menu system could use a little work.

While your average consumer will question exactly how evident the differences in image quality are, it only takes a split second of viewing to understand how truly impressive high definition video is. Samsung provide two Blu-Ray discs with the BD-P1000; S.W.A.T and Legends of Jazz, and their quality was nothing short of exceptional. When compared with DVDs, there are almost no visible background artifacts and edges are extremely sharp and smooth across the whole picture. Colours are well balanced and every element of the image is rendered with detail and precision. There really isn't much to complain about because this player produced some of the best quality video we've ever seen, comparable to that produced by Toshiba's HD-DVD discs.

We watched the discs running at a resolution of 1366 x 768 (720p) but the player can also output to 1080i and 1080p if you're lucky enough to have a display that supports the latter. This can be configured from the internal menu, which is reasonably intuitive and easy to navigate, but a little slow for our liking.

The BD-P1000 offers the usual array of connectivity options, including component and HDMI, as well as stereo and optical audio outputs, which is more than enough to cater to any user's needs. Do note however that while component works for 720p and 1080i, if you want to run 1080p you need to use HDMI due to future HDCP copyright protection.

The unit itself is reasonably well designed, and has a similar aesthetic to many other Samsung home entertainment devices. With a gloss black and silver colour scheme and neon blue lights, it fits in very well with a modern home entertainment setup. We felt the construction was a little weak in some parts, but short of moving it from the box to your shelves the device should pretty much remain stationary, so this isn't a huge concern.

All the functions are accessed via the remote, which is well laid out, although some of its buttons are a little small. In addition to basic Blu-Ray playback, the BD-P1000 offers JPEG and MP3 support from either a flash memory card or a data disc. All the major types of cards are supported, including Compact Flash, Memory Stick and SD card. While both of these functions work, the menu slowdown we experienced earlier returned with a vengeance here. Skipping between photos took in excess of ten seconds, and even changing songs had a notable pause. We'd really like to see the interface sped up a little to improve the overall user experience.

Slow down aside, these features were quite easy to use. The menu is broken down into clearly marked directories which are easy to follow, and even novices users will have no issues. The BD-P1000 also allows you to create playlists up to 30 songs long using your music files, which is a nice touch.

Overall the BD-P1000 is a mixed bag. While there is no doubt it will appeal to early adopters and innovators, and offers some of the best video quality you can currently find, the price tag is exceedingly high. HD-DVD offerings from other companies will cost around half the BD-P1000's asking price when they're released in the coming month. Furthermore, there are a lot more HD-DVD titles available than there are Blu-Ray titles, and this isn't going to change in the next few months. If having the best is important to you though, then the BD-P1000 is probably right up your alley.

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Andrew Kliem

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