Three technology breakthroughs make the player possible, said LG's president and chief technology officer, H.G. Lee. Most critical was development of a dual-lens/dual-diode disc drive with both red and blue lasers; blue is used for all HD disc formats, whereas red is for standard-definition DVD. (The BH100 will not play CDs.) One of the lenses, on the other hand, is used for HD DVD and standard DVD, which store data at similar depths on the disc, and the other for Blu-ray, which stores data close to the disc surface and therefore requires a different focal point.
Besides the new dual drive, LG worked with technology partner Broadcom to develop an integrated chip set to handle both HD formats and spent considerable effort developing the machine's firmware operating software to support both disc types.
Along with the new player, LG will also release sometime in the first quarter a standalone combo drive that plugs into PCs to allow similar multi-disc playback. The GGW-H10N adds the ability to record on blank Blu-ray discs but only reads HD-DVD. It has CD read/write capability as well.
At the press conference, LG demonstrated the same BH100 first playing a clip from Batman Begins on HD DVD, then an excerpt from Superman Returns on Blu-ray Disc. The images were equally sharp and up to current expectations for hi-def discs. Lee said that the BH100 takes "a fraction of a second" to recognize which format has been loaded (including standard red-laser DVD) before initiating the appropriate start-up sequence.
Lee said that by building a combo player LG is attempting to address consumer reluctance to embrace HD disc technology until the format war is resolved. After beginning development last year of a standalone Blu-ray Disc player, "we recognized that the two formats are here to stay and there will be no reconciliation anytime soon. Our solution was to create a product that could solve at least part of this problem."
In other news, LG announced an expansion of its flat-panel HDTV lines, including three new 1080p plasma models and nine new 1080p LCD TVs. Its new flagship 71-inch LCD panel is priced at $14,999.
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