Despite the player's HD DVD format limitations, those discs also looked great on the BH100. After viewing a few benchmark picture-quality discs such as Happy Gilmore and Four Brothers, I had no hesitation giving the LG an HD DVD thumbs-up for its image. While it's kind of absurd that you don't get to view these discs' menus, hitting the Menu or Pop Up button on the player's remote calls up a generic navigation bar (see below) that lets you select from a numbered sequence of titles or scenes. And the same display can also be used to select between soundtrack formats and subtitles as you would from an HD DVD's own menu. Of course, while this nav bar does allow you to get around the disc, the lack of images or detail prevents you from knowing what part of the film or extras section you're navigating to. That's a very different - and disappointing - experience after you've cruised through the elegant HD DVD pop-up menus that other players provide access to.
Sound is a big - and, to judge from the various Blu-ray Disc players I've tested, unpredictable - part of the high-def disc experience. Though I wasn't able to experience 5.1 Dolby TrueHD from the handful of HD DVDs I have that feature the format (or DTS-HD Master Audio on Blu-ray Disc, for that matter), regular Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks with both high-def disc formats came across as rich and dynamic on the BH100. Watching a scene from Kingdom of Heaven where an army of crusaders on horseback swarms in for battle, the swell of hoofbeats as the animals charged had a dense, realistic presentation, and the soundtrack's active surround channels delivered a vivid sense of battlefield ambience.
BOTTOM LINE Ultimately, deciding whether to own the LG BH100 Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD player is likely to depend on whether you're a glass-half-empty or half-full type of person. If you're the former, then this player's limited video and audio output options, HDMI incompatibilities, and inability to play audio CDs or perform basic interactive functions with HD DVDs make it a hard sell. But if you're the latter, you'll be rewarded by the BH100's fine picture with Blu-ray Discs, HD DVDs, and regular DVDs. Not to mention the advantage of using a single machine to watch all three. That convenience alone is a small slice of heaven.
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