SOUND OF SCIENCE If the Samsung's picture was somewhat inconsistent, its sound had us cheering full-time. All of the Sony titles in our test batch contained both a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the aforementioned uncompressed LPCM track. Using the Audio button on the remote, I easily switched between the two to compare them. On a movie like xXx, for example, with its hard-driving techno-music score, the Dolby Digital sounded pretty good: clean, open, dynamic, with a decent amount of deep, tight bass. But when I flipped in the LPCM track, the Krell amps came alive and did the happy dance. After matching volume, the LPCM obviously had more of everything - more openness, more clarity, more high-end extension, better dynamics, and deeper, fuller bass. And that followed for every other title I tried. This is hands down the best sound we've ever heard from a home video format, and I'd guess it will be matched only by a lossless compression scheme like Dolby TrueHD.
THE SMALL STUFF I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the BD-P1000's stunning industrial design. This is really one beautiful player, with a clean, sculpted front panel and a solid feel; build quality is excellent, and the gloss black cover distinctive. You'd be proud to have it sitting out in the open.
Although it wasn't without occassional hiccups, the BD-P1000 also worked well in day-to-day operation - a refreshing change from the slow, glitchy performance of the first HD DVD player. Power-up and disc-boot times were faster by about a third, though still longer than for a standard DVD player. Transport commands executed smoothly, and, unlike with HD DVD, the onscreen indicators for fast-forward and rewind modes were fully functional.
The remote, unfortunately, is a pain. Though pretty to look at, it suffers from tiny and indistinct buttons placed too closely, and is nearly impossible to use in the dark given its lack of a backlight - a real bummer for a $1,000 player.
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