Fences Are Not Made for Long-Term Seating

Yay! We Both Found a Home!The New York Times ran another state-of-the-format-war on Monday, declaring that in the battle of Red versus Blue, nobody’s winning and nobody’s losing.

Well, except those of us who’ve decided to stop waiting for a winner, and buy into both formats.

Yup, I abandoned my dream of a hybrid high-def player — not too difficult, really, once I spent a couple of days with the LG BH200 before Christmas. Lovely unit in theory, not so lovely in practice.

I mean, I can’t imagine every one of them refuses to read either HD DVD or Blu-ray discs after the latest firmware update, but that was certainly my experience. Kinda frustrating, really.

Anyway, all this was ameliorated somewhat by the discovery that, while I’ve had my eye on the combo players, Sony’s PlayStation 3 has quietly developed into one of the most adaptable players on the market, for any DVD format. Its latest firmware brings it fully in line with Blu-ray’s spanking-new Profile 1.1, allowing it to access the shiny picture-in-picture extras available on such discs as Sony’s “Resident Evil: Extinction” and Fox’ “Sunshine”, and the PS3 can even be used as a media storage device, what with the 40GB hard drive and the AVI playback and the wireless media server capabilities.

Oh, and did I mention it plays everything it says it can play? Because that’s important too. And with a sale price of $379.99, I can still buy a separate HD DVD player and end up spending less than the $799 the BH200 would have run me at Future Shop.

Yeah, they’ve since dropped it to $699, but that’s post-fiasco. And I’m just so damn tired of waiting.

Of course, now I have to start looking at 1080p projectors that can output a 24-frame signal. Don’t tell Kate, okay?

5 thoughts on “Fences Are Not Made for Long-Term Seating”

  1. Hmm…how can I convince my wife that buying a new Playstation 3 is strictly for reviewing HD films? 🙂

    The Toshiba HD DVD player prices are coming down to earth now, too, with one model around $250 at Future Shop.

  2. Hey Norm,

    I bought a BH200 at Future Shop before Warner decided to flip towards Blu-ray today.

    Could you be a little more specific about the “issues” which compelled you to return the player. I’m still in my 30 day window to return it.

    And yes I love your work, website, etc… I’ve been reading your reviews since the Starweek Laserdisc days in the early 90’s.



  3. @ Mike: Yup, Divx playback arrived with the 2.10 firmware; plug in a USB drive and it’s good to go.

    @ Richard K: First off, thanks for your loyalty over the years — I hope I stay interesting as I move into my third professional decade, though I expect I’m likely to get crankier with time.

    As to the LG, the problem was really as simple as the player not being able to read either HD or BD discs after the 1.19 firmware update. It could see them just fine, and even identify which type of disc was in the drive; it just couldn’t spin them up without freezing and displaying a “DISC ERROR” message. Standard DVDs continued to play without a problem, though.

    I can’t imagine this will happen with all players across the board, but that kind of catastrophic failure less than 24 hours into ownership — combined with the PS3’s new Profile 1.1 status — made it awfully easy to give up on the whole combo player thing and save a few bucks by buying separate units.

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