BOTTOM LINE From our perspective, the big Blu-ray mystery continues. Even without the noise-reduction fix, some Blu-ray Discs look great - the smoothness and saturated comic-book colors of the highly-stylized, computer-generated world in Sony's UltraViolet were stunning, for example, and the movie exhibited little of that bothersome noise. Yet, this and other titles never quite matched the quality or impact of HD DVD, which consistently delivers a picture with superb clarity, minus the objectionable grain, and a wider range of contrast that makes highlights pop in a lifelike way that Blu-ray on the Samsung BD-P1000 does not.
None of us can say right now why these two formats look so different. Some pundits are citing the different compression technologies or the space limitations on single-layer Blu-ray Discs (a dual-layer option is still in development). Others are questioning the quality of the film originals that are being transferred, which seem to vary in the first batch of Blu-ray titles. Still others are doubting Samsung's execution of the first Blu-ray player.
As far as we're concerned, the jury's still out. We'll be anxious to test players from Sony, Pioneer, and other manufacturers, as well as future Blu-ray titles, to see if images from the two formats don't converge or, at least, become equally impressive in their own rights. In the meantime, though, it would appear that Round One goes to HD DVD.