Samsung has announced cancellation of its plans to build its new dual format HD DVD/Blu-ray player, the BD-UP5500 that was announced at CES 2008. Apparently, the company will continue to sell the BD-UP5000 hybrid player that was supposed to be replaced by the new model. The older set is available on Amazon for under $500 (plus shipping) as I write this, but this still is more than separate Blu-ray and HD DVD units.
The dual format concept may have been a logical idea in the face of the trench warfare between the competing standards, but it never stood a chance. A multi-format drive that handles all computer optical disc formats — all the CD and DVD variants — costs little more than a drive that only supports a subset of the choices. But with the high definition movie players, the technology was sufficiently different that it cost more to combine them in one box than it did to build separate boxes. So I can’t say that I’m surprised that the hybrids never took off.
Now that Blu-ray has the market to itself, we’ll find out whether Sony will be able to take advantage of the win and turn this into a profitable market segment. I’m guessing that profits will be a long time coming, as consumers were not that smitten by high definition movies when standard DVDs look so great on HDTVs. Now that the U.S. economy is tanking, they’re going be even less inclined to shell out $300 or more for a Blu-Ray player.