LG BH100 Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD Player
Maybe it's me, but lately it seems like there's been a glut of World War II-related movies hitting the screen. Clint Eastwood alone cranked out two in the past year, and he's 77! A key theme in many of these flicks is that war closely resembles hell. If that's the case, then the same must apply (on a less crucial scale, of course) to video format wars. Having to buy two separate, expensive machines just to take advantage of the full range of high-definition disc releases - if that situation isn't hell, then it's certainly hellish.
But before you nod out in a blissful blue haze over the prospect of having to buy only one high-def disc player, there's something else you should know about the BH100: It hasn't been sanctioned as a full-fledged HD DVD player by the DVD Forum. To earn that status, a player needs to provide HDi interactivity - features like picture-in-picture for onscreen video commentaries, as well as the ability to download additional content over the Internet. LG's Super BH100 not only lacks those features, it won't even display the menu screens from HD DVDs! (No such limitations apply to its handling of Blu-ray Discs, however.)
A few other BH100 peculiarities need to be addressed up front. Although the player can extract 1080p-format signals from both HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, it delivers them in that resolution only at 24- and 30-Hz frame rates. Basically, this means that if your HDTV can't accept a 1080p signal with a 24- or 30-Hz refresh rate over an HDMI connection (many can't), then the 1080p option won't be accessible in the BH100's setup menu and you'll be limited to 1080i or 720p high-def output. And though the player's HDMI connection worked fine with an Anthem AVM 50 preamp that I used for testing, LG has confirmed that the initial run of BH100s had problems passing signals via HDMI to Denon and Pioneer A/V receivers (an issue that's reportedly been fixed for the current production run; LG is also planning a firmware upgrade for units already in the field).