Another notable omission, but one the Samsung shares somewhat with the existing HD DVD models, is an inability to fully exploit the advanced 7.1-channel audio formats - Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD - that will also be on future Blu-ray and HD DVD titles. The HDMI 1.3 connector standard, which was just recently finalized, is said to allow transmission of these signals, but we won't likely see it in high-def players till early next year. Meanwhile, the Samsung BD-P1000 is a 5.1-channel affair at most and is said to support only the "core" Dolby Digital or DTS bitstream contained within these soundtracks - not their enhancements.
To put it bluntly, I wasn't crazy about the BD-P1000's remote. Pretty to look at and comfortable in the palm with its narrow girth, it nonetheless suffers from too many tiny and indistinct buttons placed too close together, particularly the ever-important Play, Stop, and Chapter Advance/Back buttons. Samsung also put the volume and channel up/down buttons for a TV right in the middle of the remote, smack between the menu navigation cluster and those critical transport keys. Consequently, you have to slide the remote up or down in your hand or else contort your thumb to gain access to both groupings. Add to all this the lack of a backlight - a real disappointment on a $1,000 cutting-edge player. Consider a universal remote if you plan on living with one of these players long-term.
PLUGGED AND POWERED
High definition disc players, we're learning, are pretty complicated beasts. Setting up Samsung's Blu-ray player for best performance is neither for the weak of heart nor the untechnical of mind, but it proved simpler than for Toshiba's HD-AX1. If you're using an HDMI connection to your TV, the player actually makes it very easy. A handshake protocol built into the HDMI interface called Extended Display Identification Data, or EDID, enables the BD-P1000 to learn the connected TV's maximum resolution, at which point it automatically sets itself to that resolution and activates the HDMI output. This works well in theory, but we did occasionally find that as we switched about on our TV inputs or reset the player outputs in some way it would default to undesirable resolutions, such as 720p on our 1080p TV or even 480p at one point. Yikes! Fortunately, you can see your resolution setting clearly via the front panel display (or on the screen at 480p) and change resolution in the BD-P1000's setup menu as needed.
EDID also complicated use of the player's 1080p output option. We had four 1080p-compliant displays on hand, all of which should have worked nicely with this output. But this signal is available only via HDMI, and the EDID information must be communicated before the BD-P1000 will send any HDTV signal to any display via HDMI. If the Samsung doesn't think your TV can handle a particular HDTV format, it defaults to the next-best and grays out the higher-resolution format on its setup menu, preventing you from selecting it manually.
That's unfortunate for owners of the popular Westinghouse LVM-42w2, a 42-inch 1080p LCD panel that's said to accept 1080p signals. Because of an apparent lack of EDID compliance, the Samsung will send it only 1080i.
No such problem with a pair of HP 1080p DLP rear projectors or a new Sony SXRD rear projector, all of which immediately triggered 1080p output from the BD-P1000 when connected directly to the player. But when we tried connecting these sets through an HDMI-capable A/V receiver - mandatory for pulling the uncompressed LPCM soundtracks off the discs without resorting to the BD-P1000's 5.1-channel analog outputs - the player choked. Though we haven't confirmed it, we suspect our Yamaha RX-V2600 receiver won't pass a 1080p signal. But there was no way to force-feed 1080p into the Yamaha or the Westinghouse to test.
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