Ever since we first learned about the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, we’ve been waiting for a player like this: something blessed with a hefty dose of what some AV industry insiders like to call ‘good sense'.
Daft name, great concept
LG’s BH100 Super Multi Blue might have a slightly daft name, but it’s a seriously sensible idea: it means you no longer have to fret about which disc format to invest in for the long term, or about not being able to watch a particular movie studio’s discs on your shiny new player.
At a stroke, it also makes rival single-format players in the same class, such as Samsung’s BD-P1000, look like techno turkeys of the first order.
What happened to HDi?
Of course, we’re not saying the BH100 is perfect: it’s not without its issues. First and foremost is that while it will play HD DVD movies superbly, it won’t access any of the interactive features also stored on these discs (the so-called HDi content).
You can’t view special features, and you don’t even get access to the same fully animated menu screens as you would with a conventional HD DVD deck, although some might count that as an improvement.
It’s essentially because the LG is a Blu-ray deck with added HD-DVD replay capability, rather than any particular anti-HD-DVD agenda, but still – it’s worth knowing. Us? We’re happy just playing the movies…
A few other features missing, too
While we're on the subject of moans, we're also astounded that the BH100 can't replay CDs. It'll quite happily cope with the two hottest disc formats around, it also spins 'legacy' DVDs, but plain old CD? Nope. Not a sausage. It's just not right.
Also not right is the LG's old school, out-of-date HDMI socket: it's specced with version 1.2, not the latest, higher-performance version 1.3 out. That means it can't output the best quality audio streams found on either of the high-def disc formats: no Dolby TrueHD action for you, for example.
True, you can decode such soundtracks internally inside the player, and send them out via six analogue phono sockets – but it's all so low-tech, and it's also limited to just 5.1, not 7.1, which it ought to have.
Now for the good stuff
But that's the limit of our griping. The rest of the BH100 is damnably appealing, especially if you've got access to a new-generation flatscreen or a good projector that can support 24 frames per second video.
The LG's the first player we've tested to offer this output option (it's the native speed of film, since you're asking), and as a result, it produces beautifully smooth, natural motion, with none of the slight juddering found on all its rivals.
Couple this sensational stability with all the other virtues of high-def – detail, black depth, colour vitality and plain, eye-watering wowness, and it's clear the BH100 is something pretty special.