LG’s New BH100 Super Multi Blue Player for HD-DVD and Blu-ray

(This article first appeared in the January 8, 2007 issue of Jon Peddie’s TechWatch)

This morning, here in Las Vegas at the start of the Consumer Electronics Show, LG Electronics announced that they will be shipping the first multi-format DVD player during the first week of February 2007 via retail channels including Best Buy and Circuit City.

LG's BH100 multi-format HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc player
LG’s BH100 multi-format HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc player

The new LG BD100 player, which goes by the decidedly cryptic name of “Super Multi Blue Player,” will retail for $1,199 and offer playback for HD-DVD, Blu-ray, and standard DVD media using a single tray. Full 1080p output, HDMI-out, and support for a variety of codecs (VL-1/H.264, DDH, DTS HD, and True HD) are also included.

The new player uses a sophisticated beam mirror system to direct the different color laser beams required by the various formats.

LG’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. H. G. Lee, said that it has been widely perceived that there has been much slower adoption of high-definition DVD players, and that LG believes unification between the competing HD-DVD and Blu-ray standards is possible. LG believes their new BH100 player is a first step toward that unification, and should help consumers overcome the hesitation in committing to high-definition DVD playback, because now they don’t have to choose (although they will need to pay a small premium, of course).

LG's multi-format HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc player technology
LG’s multi-format HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc player technology

LG also announced the GGW-H10N Super Multi Blue Drive, an external drive for use with PCs which features support for reading and writing Blu-ray media, DVD, and CD, and can also play HD-DVD. This unit will be available for $1,199 as well, sometime later in Q1 2007.

While the price of the BH100 is not insignificant, it is still cheaper than buying two separate stand-alone players (and about the same price as buying both a PS3, which features Blu-ray, and an Xbox 360 with HD-DVD drive separately), and no doubt the price will come down as volumes increase and as other vendors release multi-format players.

I only wish LG had chosen a better and more descriptive name, like “Universal High Definition Disc Player.”

There were already a number of hints last week that LG would be announcing a multi-format player at CES. Companies and people who had opted to support one of the two HD formats exclusively had guarded comments, but in some cases expressed concern that LG’s product would further delay the eventual success of their chosen standard, and the demise of the competing standard. The same concerns rang even louder when Warner Bros. last week also announced a dual-media disk – the Total High-Definition Disc (or THD), which will play in both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players.