The first Blu-ray high-definition DVD player was launched in the U.S. last night, with an event at the Samsung Experience showcase store in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Actually, first shipments to dealers won’t be made until June 25th. The drive will support 1080p output through the digital HDMI connector, but only through 720p and 1080i through analog component connections.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also announced the release of seven titles in Blu-ray format, shipping June 20th. The list is reported to include “50 First Dates”, “Hitch”, and “The Terminator”.
The bottom line here is that the Samsung drive is going to cost $1,000. And the list of Blu-ray titles is going to be limited, even though Sony appears to plan on releasing new titles every couple of weeks. Restricting 1080p to HDMI connections is just plain obnoxious, but the 1080i over component should look just about as good on a 1080p set provided that it does “weave” processing and not “bob”. All the same, I remain unconvinced that Blu-ray is worth 10 times the price of an upconvert red-laser DVD. I expect that on June 25th, Samsung will find that sales will be limited to enthusiasts and afficianados. It will take a long time to get the mass market to warm up to this new format.