capsule review

LG Super Blu BH200 Dual-Format HD Player

At a Glance
  • LG Electronics LG BH200 Blu-ray/HD-DVD Player

    TechHive Rating

    The BH200 offers two formats in one player, but its price is too high.

LG Electronics made a splash earlier this year with the first set-top high-def video player that could play both Blu-ray and HD DVD movies; however, critical missing features kept that model from being a home run. The new $999 Super Blu BH200 rights its predecessor's wrongs by fully implementing the HD DVD spec, so you can properly view the fancy menus and extra content to be found on an HD DVD disc. It also adds support for audio CD playback and for upscaling standard-definition DVDs to 1080p.

The more I used the BH200, the more I liked its design. It's sleek and stylish, with a black finish and soft-touch buttons on the front (moved from their former, confounding placement on top). A clean, easy-to-follow on-screen interface makes using the player a breeze.

The player's specs are solid. It fully supports the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD specifications, and the recently implemented Blu-ray Bonus View picture-in-picture functionality. This allows you to watch the talking head of a director superimposed over the movie, for example. It can also handle decoding Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio in-unit, or pass those audio signals to an audio receiver in bit-stream format. We have not yet formally lab-tested the player's image quality; check our Web site for the results and a full PCW Rating when that information becomes available.

My one noteworthy complaint: The player is pokey with some discs--at startup, when identifying whether you've inserted a Blu-ray or an HD DVD disc, when changing chapters, or when navigating disc menus. Some discs have more pauses during navigation than others--and some have no issues at all. Load times for Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of the same movie appeared comparable on the handful of titles I timed: for example, 2001: A Space Odyssey required 44 seconds to be identified as a Blu-ray Disc, and another 19 seconds to get to the FBI warning; the HD DVD version required the same amount of time to be identified as an HD DVD, and another 21 seconds to reach the FBI warning.

Blu-ray Discs that were heavy with BD-Java (such as Cars and Ratatouille) seemed to suffer slight pauses more often than less complicated Blu-ray titles. And all HD DVDs I loaded had a sluggish response when accessing their advanced menus. This problem might be due to the player's HD DVD implementation: Although the BH200 does qualify for the HD DVD logo by fully supporting that spec, it does so by using its own, LG-written software for handling the advanced menus. By contrast, the Toshiba HD DVD players are using HDi, Microsoft's implementation of HD DVD's advanced menus.

Although the BH200 certainly breaks down the barriers between Blu-ray and HD DVD, LG is charging a high premium for the convenience of having both formats in one box. Personally, I think the premium is just too high, especially considering that you can buy a Blu-ray Disc player and an HD DVD player together for significantly less.

--Melissa J. Perenson

This story, "LG Super Blu BH200 Dual-Format HD Player" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The BH200 offers two formats in one player, but its price is too high.

    Pros

    • Can play back both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs

    Cons

    • More expensive than buying two players
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