Samsung can't claim to have produced the first multi-format player -- that award goes to LG for its Super Multi Blue player -- but it can claim to have the first one that is certified by both the Blu-ray Disc Association and the DVD Forum. The BD-UP5000 offers playback of both formats, but it also offers full HD DVD HDi functionality, which provides the ability to interact with the format, for example in games and with animated menus. The LG machine doesn't support this functionality on HD DVD.
The BD-UP5000 includes all the features of the Samsung BD-P1000, meaning lucky punters will get full 1080p support, including the ability to upscale DVDs to 1080p. There is also 24p movie playback, which is the buzz-word of the year.
You'll also find full support for the major audio formats: Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD and Dolby Digital Plus. This means you'll be able to get the best out of the HDMI 1.3 interface, which allows true, uncompressed digital sound.
Connectivity is impressive, with HDMI, component, S-Video and even composite video outputs, although we're struggling to understand why anyone would pay for a premium player like this and use composite out.
Early indications are that the player will cost around £600 in the UK and -- which should mean about AU$1500 here -- and it will be on sale in most parts of the world by Christmas. Local availability from Samsung is still unknown, but we believe it's unlikely till the new year. If you want to step up to HD, we have to say, this is the way to do it. Full support for both formats at a realistic price is a dream come true for us.