Better Late....

As LG prepared its second-generation combination Blu-ray/HD DVD player for market, we held out hope that Sharp's oft-delayed foray into next-gen DVD was the result of rethinking its commitment to a standalone Blu-ray player. Our hopes were dashed when Sharp took the wraps off a $549 Blu-ray-only player at the Custom Installation Design and Installation Association trade show this week in Denver.

The BD-HP20U player will carry the AQUOS brand name when it ships to stores later this month. The player packs a Sharp-made laser pickup and drive unit.

Features include 1080p/24 frame output, an HDMI 1.3 output, and AQUOS LINK, Sharp's version of CEC which enables compatibility with HDMI CEC-enabled devices from other manufacturers. The BD-HP20U also supports Dolby TrueHD lossless audio and Dolby Digital Plus via a 7.1-channel output.

Sharp says its Quick Start feature takes you from drawer to menu in under 10 seconds.--Rebecca Day