UPDATE! New York — Samsung Electronics North America is not yet ready to divulge the retail pricing and feature package for its dual-format, high-definition optical disc player supporting HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but it confirmed it will be available in the United States during the fourth quarter.
Reid Sullivan, marketing VP for Samsung’s Digital A/V division, told TWICE pricing and feature specifics on the deck, called the Duo HD player (BD-UP5000), would be available a few months prior to its U.S. launch.
The Duo HD player, whose existence was revealed in a press release from Korea late last week, will fully support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats and their interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java.
Sullivan did not reveal specific distribution plans but he did note that this type of deck will attract “more early adopters.” While Samsung denied rumors last year that it was working on its own dual-format, high-definition optical disc deck, the decision was made to enter the market because “of market research showing that consumers want more HD content. They are confused and concerned about a format war,” Sullivan said.
He added that while there is more demand for HD content “there isn’t much overlap in titles” between the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps.
Concerning pricing, Sullivan said that to provide the convenience of two formats in one deck “there has to be some premium,” but he did not indicate it would be as large as the premium for LG Electronics’ “Super Multi Blu” hybrid HD deck that debuted during International CES in January with a suggested retail of $1,199.
In Friday’s announcement from Korea Dongsoo Jun, executive VP of the digital A/V division at Samsung Electronics, was quoted as saying, “As a member of the DVD Forum and contributor to the DVD Industry, we recognize that both HD DVD and BD formats have merits. As such, we have decided to market a dual-format player. Samsung is flexible to market a stand-alone HD DVD player whenever consumers demand it. Our main concern is not technology but consumer choice.”
That has led some to believe that Samsung, a member of the Blu-ray camp, will be introducing an HD DVD deck some time in the future. Sullivan noted, “While we have the capability to do that, we do not have plans [for an HD DVD deck] in the U.S. market.”
The Duo HD player will allow consumers can watch additional studio content such as trailers, director’s comments, more elaborate interactive menus and behind-the-scenes footage. The Duo HD joins Samsung’s second-generation Blu-ray player that is available at retail this month, the company said.
In a Samsung statement, Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, said, “We welcome Samsung’s Duo HD player as another solution in the marketplace that will help reduce consumer confusion and buyer hesitancy towards HD media. This is an innovative product that can move us closer to mainstream consumer adoption of HD technologies.”
On the eve of CES in January, Warner Home Video introduced a hybrid high-definition disc that can carry both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc content.
Sanders said in the Samsung statement, “We are very pleased to announce the upcoming release of our Duo HD player. Consumers are hungry for more HD content but are currently confused about competing formats. Samsung’s Duo HD player will allow consumers access to every HD movie title available regardless of the authoring format. Samsung is committed to making life simpler through technology and will market next-generation DVD products which will satisfy the consumer and market requirement. This is a big win for the consumer.”
When asked if the introduction of dual-format HD optical disc players will delay the eventual selection of the winner of this format battle, Sullivan said, “Everyone in the industry agrees that it would have been better to have introduced one, universal player. In the short term there currently is a lot of confusion,” Sullivan said, which Samsung hopes will be alleviated by this type of deck.