Thursday, March 27, 2008
Murray Hill , The StarPhoenix, Published: Monday, March 17, 2008
The King of the Hill in terms of MP3 players is Apple's iPod line; however, not everyone wants an iPod or a Zune, for that matter.
Samsung's new YP-P2 is designed to compete with an interface similar to the Touch, but at a lower price and a much more svelte look.
At first glance, the YP-P2 looks a lot like a smaller version of the Touch -- its entire front panel is a flat glass screen with a single LED below it. It looks clean, and the smaller size is quite appealing (52mm L x 10mm W x 86mm H). It weighs 86g, and fits very comfortably in your hand.
It's a flash based device, which means no onboard hard drive to skip or break down. Supported audio formats include ASF, MPEG4, MP3, WAV, WMA, and supported video formats include AVI, ASF, MPEG-4, WMV, and JPEGs are the picture file of choice.
Unlike iPods, this MP3 player will play a wide variety of different audio and video formats, saving users the pain of converting their files to something appropriate for an iPod.
The Lithium-ion battery with a full charge offers up to 30 hours of music play and five hours of movie play.
One of the unfortunate things about the YP-P2 is that it only works with a PC -- Windows XP and Vista. I think all devices like this should work with both Macs and PCs, so this, to me, is a serious limitation.
The three-inch widescreen is in the 16:9 format and at 480 x 272 resolution displays movies at 30 frames per second quite easily.
A big plus to the YP-P2 is that it has Bluetooth 2.0 compatibility. This enables users to take advantage of some of the excellent Bluetooth wireless headphones on the market and free themselves from cumbersome headphone wires that always seem to catch on something.
It's very easy to get your music onto the YP-P2 -- it's simple as drag and drop on your PC.
I had trouble with the touch interface -- it's not as intuitive as I'm used to with my Touch and my hands are just too big to operate it properly. I had trouble getting the device to do what I wanted because my touch wasn't accurate enough and I kept trying to repeat gestures I've taken for granted on my Touch.
You can save up to 30 presets for the FM radio on the YP-P2, and video, and text can be loaded; however, you need to use the Media Studio software that comes with the device to load and convert these files.
Is the Samsung YP-P2 a replacement for the iPod Touch? No; it is an inexpensive alternative. It is widely available, and the 8GB version sells for $270 at Futureshop.ca.
PROS: Small, but with a nice sized widescreen, plays MP3s -- so you aren't slaved to iTunes for your music. Bluetooth 2.0 and an FM radio make this more multifunctional than an iPod.
CONS: Only works on a PC. The touch commands are difficult to use and you can only charge the P2 when it's connected to a computer. Video is not very easy to load, and the largest capacity you can get is only 16GB.
E-mail Hill at: email@example.com, and find past columns on the web at: http://www.canada.com/topics/technology/columnists/hill.html
The good: 7.1-channel all-in-one home theater system with built-in Blu-ray player; built-in support for latest Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio surround processing; elegant styling, with four tallboy speakers; full-size subwoofer; upscales DVDs to 1080p.
The bad: Very expensive; only Blu-ray Profile 1.0 compliant, so it will not play some bonus features on some new discs in 2008; few jacks for connecting external sources; slow disc loading; no auto speaker calibration.
The bottom line: The Samsung HT-BD2T delivers the sort of top-notch video quality you'd expect from the world's first home theater system with built-in Blu-ray--but its high price, average audio quality, and lack of extras make it tough to recommend.
Specs: Product type: Home theater system; Components: Speaker system,; DVD player / AV receiver; DVD type: Blu-Ray disc and HD DVD player See full specs >> See all products in the Samsung Blu-ray player series (2007)
Reviewed by: Steve GuttenbergEdited by: John P. FalconeReviewed on 3/21/08 Release date: 12/15/07
Now that Blu-ray has officially triumphed over its HD DVD rival, it's only natural to begin seeing the high-definition disc format begin to become a bit more, well, standardized. Take the Samsung HT-BD2T: It's the first home-theater-in-a-box system in the world to feature a built-in Blu-ray player. It's exactly the sort of gorgeously styled system--curvy disc player, matching 7.1 channel speaker/subwoofer system--that's dominated the top-end of Samsung's home theater line-up for the past few years, except that this one plays Blu-ray Discs in addition to DVDs and CDs. The skinny speakers don't make much bass, but the hefty powered subwoofer supplies ample low-end thunder. The Blu-ray player, meanwhile, is essentially identical to that of the Samsung BD-P1400: it offers all of the current Blu-ray niceties, including 1080p video with 24 frames per second playback over its HDMI 1.3 output, upscaling of standard DVDs to 1080p resolution, and the capability to decode the lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio found on the latest Blu-ray movies. Of course, the BD2T's emphasis on style means that those skinny speakers don't quite have the oomph to let you discernibly hear the improvements of those soundtracks versus their lower bandwidth DVD equivalents. Likewise, the Blu-ray player performed well, but the dearth of upgradeability to newer Profile 1.1 and 2.0 Blu-ray specs means that it's already outdated. Also, the HT-BD2T's scant connectivity--just two digital and one analog audio input--means that your TV will need to handle the video switching duties for your system. None of those are necessarily a deal breaker, but to us, that sounds like an unnecessarily long list of caveats on a $1,500 system.
The Samsung HT-BD2T is a 7.1-channel Blu-ray home theater in a box. That translates to a 9-part system: seven speakers, a subwoofer, and a curvaceous head unit that houses all of the electronics, including the disc player and amplifier.
The high-gloss black top of the head unit slopes down to meet a protruding silver control panel that houses a row of basic controls--Volume Up/Down, Play, Stop, Previous/Next, and Function buttons. On the left side there's a disc-loading slot; on the right, a not so easy to see display that indicates track times and surround processing information. The unit is 3.5 inches tall by 17 inches wide by 16 inches deep and weighs 9.3 pounds--in other words, it's larger than a standard DVD or Blu-ray player, but not extraordinarily so.
The long, slender remote control is nothing fancy. Considering the HT-BD2's flagship pricing, we expected the remote to be at least backlit, but no such luck. The Volume Up/Down and cursor controls are well placed, but the rest of the buttons are crowded together and too small. It can also be programmed to control basic functions on most brands of TVs (naturally, it works out of the box with Samsung models).
The speaker package includes four tallboy speakers--two main-front and two side-surround-- that require some assembly if you intend to use them as floorstanding speakers. Your alternative is to wall-mount the speakers with their keyhole slots. We listened to them assembled, and the 51-inch tall towers were reasonably stable. The 21.6-inch wide center speaker has a table stand or can be wall-mounted, that's also true for the 10.6-inch tall rear surround satellites. The gloss and matte black speakers are all-plastic designs with perforated metal grilles. They're attractive in a home theater in a box way; build quality is merely average for HTIBs, and well below average when compared with even sub-$1,000 speaker/subwoofer packages. You are, in effect, paying a premium for the convenience of buying a packaged system. A well-chosen separate Blu-ray player, AV receiver, and speaker package will offer superior audio performance for about the same money as the $1,500 HT-BD2T.
The HT-BD2T's matching medium-density fiberboard subwoofer looks and feels a lot more substantial than the speakers do. It's 19.7x11.4x17.2 inches, and weighs 35.3 pounds. It also requires its own power cord.
While assembling the speaker stands can be time consuming, setup is straightforward: each speaker plugs into the main unit with a color-coded plug, so there's little chance of error.
We were a bit surprised to note the HT-BD2T's feature set doesn't include auto speaker calibration; but the sound was reasonably well balanced without any fussing on our part. Still, chances are you'll have to navigate the onscreen setup menus to get the video squared away, so while you're there you can fine-tune the volume levels of all the speakers (the subwoofer has its own rear-mounted volume control).
FeaturesThe main unit of the HT-BD2T is probably best described as the guts of a Samsung BD-P1400 Blu-ray player paired with a built-in amplifier. The unit plays Blu-ray and DVD movies and audio CDs, as well as burned DVDs and CDs, including those with JPEG photos and MP3 audio.
The amplifier delivers 135 watts to each speaker channel and 150 watts to the subwoofer. Its surround processing modes are comprehensive: Dolby Digital and DTS for DVDs; Dolby Pro Logic IIx for generating a faux surround effect (using all seven speakers) from stereo sources; and--for Blu-ray Discs--support for Dolby Digital Plus, uncompressed linear PCM, and lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. Those last items--sometimes missing from Blu-ray players and AV receivers--mean that the Samsung HT-BD2T should play any Blu-ray movie with its optimal soundtrack.
Like all Blu-ray players, the HT-BD2T can output video at 720p, 1080i, or full 1080p via HDMI. It can also upscale standard DVDs to those resolutions as well, and it supports 24-frame playback at 1080p, which may offer smoother playback on some compatible TVs. The system is upgradeable via an Ethernet connection, but only for minor fixes such as disc compatibility issues. The Blu-ray player doesn't support Profile 1.1 (picture in picture) or 2.0 (BD-Live) Blu-ray features, nor can it be upgraded to do so. It's not a total loss--it will still play the movies and other extras found on 1.1 and 2.0 discs--but given the premium you're paying for the HT-BD2T, we'd prefer state of the art.
The HT-BD2T connectivity offerings are slim. Aside from HDMI, video output choices are limited to component and--for non-HD televisions--composite. There are no audio outputs (which makes sense, since you're buying this package to use the surround speakers). Inputs are limited to just two optical digital ports and one set of stereo analog connectors. Combined with the dearth of video inputs, that means you'll need your TV to handle video switching duties for other AV components, such as game consoles and cable/satellite boxes. It also means that you're limited to plugging in three audio sources--two surround and one stereo--to take advantage of the HT-BD2T's speakers. In addition to the disc player and the ability to toggle among three external audio sources, the only other built-in functionality of the HT-DB2T is an FM radio.
Aside from the built-in Blu-ray player, the feature list of the Samsung HT-BD2T is actually pretty thin. That's par for the course for "lifestyle" home theater systems, but at this price, we would expect to see plenty mores--Sirius or XM satellite radio support, HDMI passthrough, video switching, or a more current Blu-ray compatibility (Profile 1.1 or 2.0 built-in, or the ability to upgrade). Also missing in action are bass and treble or any sort of tone controls. There's also no headphone jack.
PerformanceFor the most part, the Blu-ray player of the Samsung HT-BD2T performs pretty much in line with most other Blu-ray players we've tested--which is to say, it's pretty slow. Disc loading times varied--some Blu-ray discs were up and running in 35 seconds, but the Sunshine Blu-ray needed a full two minutes to come to life (DVDs rolled in 15 seconds). The HT-BD2 needed five seconds to change CD tracks. Gee, we thought new technology was supposed to be not only better, but also faster. More gripes: the rear-mounted cooling fan is noisy enough to be heard during quiet movie scenes. On the bright side, the player had no trouble playing the 3:10 to Yuma Blu-ray, a disc that's proved to glitch on other Samsung players. Otherwise, we found the Blu-ray playback on the BD2T to be essentially in line with the Samsung BD-P1400, the standalone player upon which this model is based.
To assess the HT-BD2T's sonics we started with Dolby's The Sound of High-Definition Blu-ray demo disc. Switching between lossless TrueHD and standard Dolby Digital revealed little difference on the well-recorded San Francisco Symphony tracks; the Dave Matthews' Live at Radio City tracks didn't benefit from TrueHD's technically superior sonics. The HT-BD2 sounded smooth and bass was full. Detail was only average for upscale HTIBs.
With our old HTIB torture test standby now on Blu-ray, House of Flying Daggers, the HT-BD2T was unfazed by the circle of drums scene. The huge drums sounded powerful and the "thwack" sound as Ziyi Zhang kicked the massive drumheads was fairly well defined. Still, the swordplay's metallic clang sounded muted and lacked detail. We were more impressed with the HT-BD2T's capability to create a seamless, wraparound soundfield, even when we only used five speakers. Moving up to full 7.1 channel surround provided only slight improvement in the surround experience. The HT-BD2T can play loud enough to fill even moderately large rooms with sound.
We next used a Blu-ray Disc, Sunshine, to see if we could hear a difference between the regular and lossless DTS Master Audio tracks. The sci-fi flick has a great, deeply layered soundtrack, but we could not detect a sonic advantage for the lossless format. Also of note: we couldn't use the picture-in-picture commentary feature on the disc, as that only works on newer Profile 1.1 Blu-ray players.
CD sound was a step down from movie sound; we felt that the HT-BD2T blurred Radiohead's atmospheric sound mixes on their In Rainbows CD. "Walk of Life" from Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms CD felt dynamically flat. Like most home theater systems, the HT-BD2T was more satisfying with movies.
Editors' Note: The Samsung HT-BD2T is available exclusively at retailer Fry's.
PCWorld.com posted an article of YP-P2. Please check:
Equipped with Bluetooth and a 3-inch touch screen, the YP-P2 shines at video and delivers top-notch, tweakable sound.
Samsung's YP-P2 multimedia player is the Whopper Jr. to the Apple iPod Touch's Whopper. The YP-P2 looks like a slightly smaller and skinnier version of Apple's flagship MP3 player; and like the Touch, it provides a touch screen for navigation.
Available in 4GB ($200) and 8GB ($250) flavors, the YP-P2 features a crisp and colorful 3-inch wide-screen (480-by-272-pixel) display, which makes video viewing a pseudo-cinematic experience. Its abundant EQ settings and audio presets are ideal for people who love tweaking audio settings.
Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity lets you pair the YP-P2 with a set of Bluetooth headsets or speakers. Unfortunately, the player's FM radio doesn't support Bluetooth 2.0, so you can use Bluetooth only for digital audio and video playback.
We tested the YP-P2's wireless performance with Samsung's own portable BS300 Bluetooth speakers, and the device demonstrated good wireless range. Given a clear line of sight to the speakers, audio streamed without interruption from about 85 feet away. Through a closed door, audio streamed uninterrupted from about 30 feet away.
Though menu navigation is clean and intuitive, it took me a little while to get used to the YP-P2's touch-screen control. When you turn it on, the main screen displays three options: videos, music, and pictures. But more menu options lurk below those; to see them, you must swipe your finger downward on the screen. Doing so brings up the Bluetooth menu, settings options, a file browser, an FM radio with 30 presets, and podcasts (which Samsung calls "datacasts").
File support is a bit limited. The YP-P2 works with WMV and MPEG-4 video, MP3 and WMA music files, and JPEG images. Digital video download/rental service support is restricted to CinemaNow and Vongo.
You can drag and drop files directly onto the player or use the bundled Samsung Media Studio software to put music, movies, photos, and datacasts on the device via the bundled USB cable.
To supplement its touch screen, the YP-P2 has volume buttons (on the right side), a power button (on the left side), and a hold switch You'll definitely want to engage the hold switch while wiping off the screen because, otherwise, accidentally wiping the player with your sleeve can trigger the player's customizable "horizontal swipe" function, resulting in skipped tracks.
I found the touch screen responsive and even a bit better than the one on my Apple iPhone. The screen does smudge more easily, however, and a few navigation shortcomings make the iPhone or iPod Touch's interface slightly more user-friendly.
For one thing, the YP-P2 screen lacks the pinching and multitouch gesturing features of Apple's touch screens. And to select menu items on the YP-P2, you must double-tap them. Though this makes for fewer missteps when you're navigating menus and selecting songs, it adds a frustratingly redundant step for accurate touch-screen touchers.
The YP-P2 is packed with adjustment options, including ten equalizer presets, full manual control (if you want it) over the EQ settings, four manual bass settings, and a "3D sound" control that generally improved audio richness. The bundled earbuds are adequate, but they favor treble while offering a merely serviceable low end.
You can choose any of six on-screen visual options to look at while the music's playing: album art, an animated equalizer graph, artist info, and three trippy animations.
The YP-P2's wide aspect ratio and superb screen support great viewing, while excellent audio quality and an abundance of equalizer options are major draws for serious sound buffs. It's a somewhat pricey option for anyone seeking a better overall experience than the iPod Touch provides, along with integrated Bluetooth connectivity. The navigation, design, and touch-screen experience fall short of Apple's latest, though.
The last time I used or even owned a camcorder was back in the mid-90s. They were always too big and transferring video was only something a pro did unless you were just copying to a VHS tape. It wasn’t worth the time or the effort. My, have times changed. As with most technology, things get smaller and easier to use. Such is the case of the Samsung SC-HMX10C 720p camcorder. I’ve used it extensively over the last few months to bring all of you videos from CES, Macworld, CeBIT and any other video I’ve posted on CG.
The HMX10C is capable of recording video in HD (720p) or SD and has 8GB of built-in storage. The flip out 2.7-inch touchscreen LCD makes navigating through the menus a breeze. The zoom, menu and record buttons are also placed on the side of the LCD for added convenience. On the body of the camcorder where the LCD usually rests you’ll find an HDMI port as well as Component/AV/S and USB port. You’ll also find an LCD brightness switch and display off/on button.
External controls are easily manipulated unless you’re sans thumbs, which would cause a problem. The power button, record, mode, easy, zoom and photo switches are well placed. The one feature that I really, really like is the swiveling handle. It makes recording easier and causes less fatigue.
There are five scene modes: Auto, Sports, Portrait, Spotlight and Beach/Snow. I typically used the Auto mode and achieved desirable results in all situations. Other features that can be manipulated include: WB, Exposure, Anti-Shake, Digital Effects (sepia, negative, etc.), Focus, Shutter, Tele, Macro, varying degrees of Quality (Super Fine HD, Fine HD, Normal HD, SD and Economy SD), Wind Cut, Back Light, Fader, and Digital Zoom. There are also a ton of variables for the 1.56-megapixel camera, but they’re nothing special or out of the ordinary.
When reviewing recorded videos, you can take screen shots in case you want to incriminate someone or you just like the pretty flowers. Transferring video to my MBP was simple and headache free. Drag and drop via USB and you’re good to go depending on your choice of video editing tools. Battery life was fairly good at a little over an hour for HD recording and closer to 1.5 to 2 hours for SD video.
Flash memory on the camcorder is its biggest asset. The addition of an SD slot that supports SDHC cards is also an added plus. I don’t think I ever came close to filling up the 8GB of internal memory, but having an SD card just made me feel more comfortable. However, what I didn’t like was that I couldn’t transfer files from the internal memory to the external card. I can do that on my Helio Ocean — just don’t understand why I can’t do it on the camcorder. But that’s just about the only downfall the HMX10C has as far as I can tell.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the HMX10C and it’s made our time at shows far more enjoyable and much easier to cover. Photos are fine for most things, but having video is 10x better, right? The MSRP is around $750, but you can find it for much cheaper than that by doing a quick search on the Net.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Samsung’s stone-cold shuffle-killer sighted
Into rock music? You’ll love Samsung’s new music player. It’s a tiny MP3 pumper that’s shaped just like a stone. We caught sight of it for the first time yesterday, although it’s not due to go on sale until May.
It’s obviously Samsung’s attempt to topple the iPod shuffle, and with a choice of metallic or marble-effect casings, it’s definitely just as attractive.
Around the back are the same simple controls as the shuffle, but inside there’s less memory, and no added extras.
Unlike the Creative Zen Stone Plus, you won’t find a screen, FM radio or voice recorder here.
Check out our video below, and let us know what you think.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The Samsung YP-T10 is a gorgeous MP3 player hands down. However, audiophiles that demand a plethora of file support should probably look elsewhere. For the rest of us that only listen to MP3s and no other obscure audio files…give the YP-10 a look.
The player comes in black, red, white, green, and purple in either 2 or 4GB. $129.99 via
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Here is the link:
Planet X64, a hardware and software review site, anouced Samsung's YP-P2.
Here is the link for the info:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
A nice looking player with great build quality. 5.1 channel discrete outputs, good looking scrub bar and UI, TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstream output. Internal decoding of TrueHD and DTS-HD HR.
Tags: BD-P1400, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA, Dts-hdHr, Dts-hdMa, TrueHD
This cutie has so many fantastic qualities it’s difficult to know where to begin gushing. How about the obvious? The P2’s 3-inch, 16:9 widescreen display (480 x 272 top resolution) not only shows movies, photos, and video clips smoothly with sharp, accurate colors, it also doubles as a touchscreen. Finger taps and swipes let you skip through video clips at various intervals, scroll photos, and tunnel through a slick Cosmos user interface. Cosmos displays menu icons (Music, Video, Pictures, Settings, etc.) in a 3D style that rotates the icons at various depths of field as you slide a finger across the screen. The P2 also offers a Matrix menu that lays the icons in a grid. There is a third My Skin option that overlays menu icons on a photo you choose. If all this weren’t enough, the P2 also has three font choices. (Told you she was multifaceted.)
The P2’s touchscreen is a little oversensitive at times and prone to fingerprints and smudges, but I don’t think you’ll mind. Of the scores of digital music players I’ve used, none has won me over as quickly as the P2 did while zooming on individual photos, tuning in FM radio stations, turning ebook pages, and incessantly flying through the four visualization options you have for song playback. Touchscreens definitely aren’t for everyone, but I haven’t minded the P2’s shortage of tactile buttons once. (There are Hold, Play/Pause, and two volume buttons.)
Wait, there’s more. The P2’s audio quality is maybe the best I’ve heard from any digital music player. Volume levels are strong without distortion, and midtones are fuller even at default settings than what I’ve heard with the vast majority of players. Samsung builds in Street Mode and Clarity sound effects, as well as nearly a dozen DNSe (Digital Natural Sound Engine) options (Normal, Rock, Classical, etc.) designed to output audio that’s more accurate and natural. Configuring the P2’s seven-band equalizer gave me the best audio performance.
Can you handle more gushing? The File Browser simplifies navigation through data on the P2, including text you can read with a built-in text reader. The reader is on a submenu that has a World Clock, Calendar, and Alarm Clock with multiple-alarm ability. Elsewhere, a Datacasts menu holds RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds you can transfer from Samsung’s Media Studio, a decent media player and file converter.
Arguably, the P2’s best feature (at least potential-wise) is its built-in Bluetooth 2.0 functionality, which lets you pair the P2 with wireless headsets or Bluetooth speakers for stereo-quality audio playback. You can also pair the player with an enabled cell phone to take calls from P2 and speak through the player’s microphone. Further, Samsung recently released details of a Blue Wave program that will entail periodic releases of consumer-centric functions taking advantage of the P2’s Bluetooth ability, including extended phone-calling chores and wireless file sharing. Adding such abilities means you’ll have to perform some firmware upgrades, but if Samsung follows through, you’ll also have a player that will grow older gracefully. The P2 is drawing comparisons to Apple’s iPhone and touch iPod, which both have touchscreens and Wi-Fi for Web surfing (something the P2 can’t do).
The P2’s audio and video file support could be better (MP3, WMA [Windows Media Audio], and AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] through firmware and MPEG-4 [Moving Picture Experts Group-4], SVI, and WMV9 [Windows Media Video 9] for video). Compatibility with Rhapsody (http://www.rhapsody.com/), Vongo (http://www.vongo.com/), and other subscription services, plus CinemaNow (http://www.cinemanow.com/) gives you decent content-download choices.
Despite her flaws, the P2 is without question a knockout.
by Blaine Flamig,
Article from: http://www.smartcomputing.com/editorial/article.asp?article=articles/2008/s1904/03bs04/03bs04.asp&articleid=46497&guid=31A830356459411D898DC16C2A0A394
Unlike current DVDs, Blu-ray can store a full-length, high- definition movie on a single disc. When viewed on an HD television, a Blu-ray movie should look amazingly sharp and rich in color. The selection of movies should improve, too, as Hollywood focuses on one standard.
I tested Blu-ray players from four companies: Sony, Panasonic, which is owned by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Tokyo-based Pioneer Corp., and Samsung Electronics Co., based in Suwon, South Korea. I also played Blu-ray movies on my Sony PlayStation 3 game console to see how it stacks up against the standalone players.
The image quality on all five devices was impressive, ranging from very good to excellent. I connected each player, one at a time, to my plasma TV and watched the Blu-ray versions of ``Planet Earth'' and ``Spider-Man 3,'' as well as the standard DVD versions of ``Lord of the Rings'' and the animated film ``Tarzan.''
Samsung's BD-P1400 and Sony's BDP-S500 showed a slight edge over the other devices. Images looked extra sharp on my plasma and colors were truly vivid. Even standard DVDs looked better because the Blu-ray devices I evaluated can perform a technique called upconversion which takes standard definition content and converts it to high definition by adding pixels on the screen. Both of my DVD flicks looked great on the HDTV, although movies on Blu-ray discs appeared even richer.
Startup speed -- the time between pressing the power button on the remote and the player showing the movie on screen -- was where I noticed a difference. The PlayStation 3 and Panasonic's DMP-BD30 were the fastest at 31 and 32 seconds, respectively. The Samsung came in next at 55 seconds, followed by Sony's BDP- S500, clocking in at 1 minute and 1 second. The Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD was the slowest at 1 minute and 11 seconds.
In general, Blu-ray players cost between $400 and about $1,000. Based on my tests and online research, the higher priced models don't provide noticeably better performance or features than their lower priced counterparts. For most users, I don't see a significant advantage to buying a more expensive player. The $999 Pioneer BDP-95FD was slower than the others and has features almost identical to Samsung's $400 BD-P1400.
The key difference is the additional infrared port on the Pioneer, which allows you to connect an external infrared box for a specialized remote control designed to access the Blu-ray player even through cabinet walls. This would be useful for someone who wants to hide their equipment. Pioneer said you can also access movies and photos from your computer with the BDP- 95FD player using an Ethernet cable.
The four Blu-ray players can be plugged in to high-end, surround-sound speakers and they all support high-definition audio. They all play music CDs, although to play MP3s on the $600 Sony BDP-S500, you must have the content saved on a DVD.
The BD30 from Osaka-based Panasonic is the only player I looked at that's designed with a SecureDigital memory card slot, which can let you view videos from a camcorder or photos from a digital camera. Convenient, but you can also just plug your camera or camcorder directly to a TV with a standard audio/video cable.
The Samsung and Pioneer Blu-ray players, as well as the Sony PlayStation PS3 game console, have an Internet connection, allowing software upgrades. They all come with remote controls, though only Samsung's and Pioneer's are designed with handy, glow-in-the-dark buttons.
Sony's BDP-S500 is the most aesthetically pleasing for my taste, thanks in part to the glossy blue, auto-sliding front cover. Pioneer's 95FD looks classy and would fit right in with an audiophile's home theater setup. The $500 Panasonic BD30 is the lightest and smallest -- ideal for tight spaces.
All companies plan upgrades this summer or fall. Sony said this week that it will introduce two models, the $400 BDP-S350 and the $500 BDP-S550. Enhancements will include an Internet connection for software updates and the ability to access interactive content, a feature that the industry calls BD-Live.
Sony's new players will also have a feature called Bonus View or Picture-in-Picture. Typically, this is used for extra material on a movie disc, such as a director's commentary while the movie is playing. Panasonic,
Pioneer and Samsung also promise to add Bonus View to new Blu-ray models. None of the Blu-ray players I reviewed have Bonus View and BD-Live. The PlayStation 3, though, can be upgraded for those features through its online connection.
Samsung's BD-P1400 and the Sony PlayStation 3 have the most bang for the buck, although I read several reports on Amazon.com from people complaining that the Samsung machine wouldn't play new releases in Blu-ray format. Samsung said it will provide software updates that users can download via the Internet. To possibly avoid such hassles, consider the pricier Sony DBP-S500 or Panasonic BD30.
One advantage of the PlayStation 3: You can also play video games on it.
Blu-ray Players Scorecard
Panasonic DMP-BD30 $500 7/10 http://www.panasonic.com/
Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD $999 6/10 http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/
Samsung BD-P1400 $400 7.5/10 http://www.samsung.com/
Sony BDP-S500 $600 7.5/10 http://www.sonystyle.com/
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
By Henning Molbaek
FIRST ONLINE Mar 3, 2008
Sony will do what they can to keep the momentum going from the recent win over rival HD DVD.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop said that the studio plans to release more than 100 Blu-ray titles in 2008. 54% more than what they did in 2007. Sony has released 93 Blu-ray titles since the formats launch.
2008 Blu-ray higligths include "The Other Boleyn Girl" with Natalie Portman, "Hancock" with Will Smith and "Don't Mess With the Zohan" with Adam Sandler.
Source: Video Business.
Blu-ray players are made by a number of different manufacturers and range in price from $500 - $1,000. Their main advantage is the ability to play movies in "1080p" resolution, which although considered the highest level of High Definition, it's worth noting that many people have a hard time seeing the difference between it and "1080i". Since the experience requires also having a 1080p television, and that you buy your favorite movies again on Blu-ray discs for $25 - $33 each, it is an expensive investment.
The movies do come with a number of cool interactive features such as on-screen menus and behind-the-scenes commentaries and documentaries, and right now on the market, it offers the best video quality and the experience of watching a movie on the format is undeniably spectacular.
However, this is the Age of the Internet, where a digital revolution has replaced compact discs with MP3 files and iPods. It’s difficult to think that that a disc format like Blu-ray isn’t going to be seriously impacted by the rapidly changing online world.
Will Blu-ray have a long lifespan? Can it last as long as DVDs or even VHS tapes did? Can it last a decade or will it be replaced in 2 – 3 years by something new?
$250 - $350
Pro - $340 Elite - $450
The main advantage here is that you do not have to replace your current movie library. After you pay the $120, you never have to spend another dime.
Right now it’s best to still wait, wait for either the prices of Blu-ray players to drop again or wait for Apple’s iPod-based movie service to make them obsolete. Either way, the best solution to enjoy your big screen, HDTV is an upconverting DVD player. It’s a small investment with impressive results.
If you are interested in the review, please check it out.
Here is the font part of the review:
Product Number: YP-S5JABPrice: Click Here To Compare Prices Warranty: 1 yearColors Available: BlackManufacturer's Product Page: YP-S5JAB MP3 players - MP3 players SAMSUNGWith technology changing in the blink of an eye on an almost daily basis, companies are forced to find innovative ways to stay at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Being that as it may, Samsung has always been ahead of the technology curve and is considered one of the primary innovators in the consumer electronics world. This Korea-based high tech juggernaut was founded over 70 years ago and currently employs over a quarter million people in its various factories and offices around the world. Their products touch on nearly every part of the electronics world and in this review we will be looking at one of their smaller yet by no means insignificant products: a multimedia player. Samsung has been producing MP3 players since their inception and this unit we will be testing today represents the next logical step in the evolution of the MP3 player into a fully-fledged multimedia player.Here at Hardware Canucks we show you the best (and sometimes worst) of what the computer component world has to offer but it sometimes feels good to take a short detour and show you what the rest of the high tech world is doing. So, when Samsung Canada approached us with an offer to review their new YP-S5 multimedia player, we gladly pulled our heads out of the pile of power supplies, graphics cards and whatnot to see what Samsung had to offer. With the advent of players like Microsoft’s Zune and Creative’s Zen players not to mention the ever-present Apple iPod, MP3 players are quickly evolving into a one-stop-shop for everything multimedia related. While the S5 is not targeting the same market as some of the larger-screened devices, it is still the kind of player which wants to offer something for everyone. It is able to play MPEG and WMV video formats and WMA, OGG, ASF music formats in addition to AAC files so all you iTunes lovers will have something to listen to. It also boasts Bluetooth connectivity to headphones or your cell phone (yes, we said cell phone but more about that later), the ability to view JPEG images and even has built in speakers. This all comes in a sleek package which is reminiscent of the award-winning Samsung YP-K3 and is available in only one capacity: 4GB. Unfortunately, the S5 is not expandable via SD cards so the consumer will have to make due with its somewhat limited storage size.The Samsung YP-S5 is quite widely available at Canadian retailers and etailers even though it was launched a few short months ago. Prices seem to range from $160 all the way up to around $200CAD which is quite a bit for this product if you are using it JUST as a music player. However, the S5 is capable of so much more than mere music playback so its asking price is somewhat less extreme when you consider the versatility it seems to offer. Is the Samsung YP-S5 a jack of all trade but master of none or is it the first and last word in portable multimedia players? Read on to find out…
Monday, March 3, 2008
The retail price for the 42-inch TV is priced (in Korea) for just under $1,900 while the 50-inch model will sell for just under $2,700.
The 50-inch "PAVV Cannes 450" model is featured with the industry's highest 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (which they are dubbing "Mega Contrast" and can easily revive a deep black color thanks to the cutting-edge cell light control technology, according to the company. The display is not spec'd for 1080p, that being reserved for separate the 50-inch PAVV Cannes 550 model which will release in March at a cost of around $4,200. From what we could round up, the new features of the 3D sets include:
* DNIe Plus (Motion Optimizer, Contrast Enhancer, Detail Enhancer, Color Optimizer)
* Greater cell light control for deeper blacks (actually lowers blacks ratther than increasing whites for more true dynamic range)
* "Ultra Daylight" mode for up to 40% more contrast
* "True" 18-bit internal color processing support
* Intelligent power saving for a 50% greater efficiency
* Down-firing hidden speakers
* 1080p/24Hz input support via HDMI
"Users could see the latest generation of Hollywood 3D movies by wearing a designated eyewear and play 3D games by just connecting 3D-only software to PCs," a Samsung spokesperson said on Thursday.
The product essentially turns 3D television into a familiar 'plug-and-play' approach that works with any compatible PC output. Since there are no difficult interfaces to manage, Samsung seems to have a way to truly deliver on the promise of 3D gaming. With EA on board, this is made even more likely to hit the mainstream sooner than later in the US markets.
The deal comes as EA has been seeking a strategic partnership with a flat screen TV maker as the company needs to secure a new "growth engine" in the online gaming industry. Still, according to the online reports, EA is still in development of much of the required compatible software titles, stating "We are engaged in final talks to introduce 3D contents that fit the televisions."
We hope they hurry up.
· CRAVE – CNET – Samsung EA unveil 3D plasmas in Asia - http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9882978-1.html?part=rss&subj=Crave
· PC World – Good looks ahead: What’s next for HDTV? - http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,142752-page,1/article.html
· GearLive – Samsung unveils 3D TV - http://www.gearlive.com/news/article/q307-samsung-3d-tv/
· Yahoo! Tech – Good Looks Ahead: What’s next for HDTV? - http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/142752
· Dealerscope – Nationwide adds Samsung, dealers await more details - http://www.dealerscope.com/story/story.bsp?sid=92411&var=story&publication=Dealerscope&publicationDate=3/3/08&slug=DSEnews%23_030308_nationwidereport&category=None§ion=Unknown
· Audioholics – Samsung releases new 3D plasmas with EA - http://www.audioholics.com/news/industry-news/ea-samsung-3d-plasmas?date=360620080301
· Engadget – Pioneer Kuro PDP-5080HD tops Home Theater Mag’s HDTV shoot-out - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/03/03/pioneer-kuro-pdp-5080hd-tops-home-theater-mags-hdtv-shoot-out/
· Gearlog – Haiku Review: LG 50PY3D - http://www.gearlog.com/2008/02/haiku_review_lg_50py3d.php
Blu-ray / DVD / Home Theater News:
· Engadget HD – Samsung’s BD-P1500 Blu-ray player release pushed up to April (BD-P1400, BD-P1500) - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/03/03/samsungs-bd-p1500-blu-ray-player-release-pushed-up-to-april/
· AV Guide – Samsung’s BD-P1500 Blu-ray player to be released in April (BD-P1400, BD-P1500) - http://www.avguide.com/news/2008/03/03/samsungs-bd-p1500-blu-ray-player-to-be-released-in-april/
· Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Are you feeling Blu-ray? It’s the winning format (BD-UP5000) - http://www.star-telegram.com/408/story/500751.html
· TG Daily – DVD Forum sets new rules on China HD DVD format - http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/36274/135/
· The Wall Street Journal - Toshiba’s plan for life after HD DVD - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120450428955606405.html
· The San Francisco Chronicle – Readers’ Platform: Blu-ray victorious, but at what price? - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/03/BU7TV90FQ.DTL
· TWICE – Abt amends Blu-ray plans - http://www.twice.com/article/CA6536874.html
· TG Daily – HD DVD tops list of high-def disc sales last week - http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/36287/113/
· PC Magazine – Sony’s Blu-ray line gets bigger, not cheaper - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2271636,00.asp
· Engadget HD – Euro spec Panasonic DMP-BD30: Now with DivX - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/03/03/euro-spec-panasonic-dmp-bd30-now-with-divx/
· WIRED – Blu-ray coming to Apple soon - http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/03/blu-ray-coming.html
· South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Be cost-conscious about buying Blu-ray - http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/sfl-flzdaniel0302sbmar02,0,5266055.story
· Kotaku – Kojima says Blu-ray disc doesn’t have enough space - http://kotaku.com/362807/kojima-says-blu+ray-disc-doesnt-have-enough-space
· DVD Town – Sony to release 100+ Blu-ray titles in 2008 - http://www.dvdtown.com/news/sony-to-release-100-blu-ray-titles-in-2008/5297
· Engadget HD – Chip makers rise and fall with format war conclusion - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/02/29/chip-makers-rise-and-fall-with-format-war-conclusion/
· Engadget HD – Mitsubushi ramps up Blu-ray recordable disc manufacturing - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/03/01/mitsubishi-ramps-up-blu-ray-recordable-disc-manufacturing/
MP3 Player / PMP / Camcorder / Camera News:
· Engadget – Meizu’s M8 a CeBit no show just like CES – surprised? - http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/03/meizus-m8-a-cebit-no-show-just-like-ces-surprised/
· Engadget HD – Sony’s HDR-HC9 camcorder gets reviewed - http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/02/29/sonys-hdr-hc9-camcorder-gets-reviewed/
· Gizmodo – iPod Nano getting purple paint job? - http://gizmodo.com/362792/ipod-nano-getting-purple-paint-job
· Engadget – iriver gets in touch with inner pink - http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/03/iriver-gets-in-touch-with-its-inner-pink/
· Engadget – DIY iPod video projector boosts utility - http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/03/diy-ipod-video-projector-boosts-utility/
· I4U – Free iPod shuffle with iPod touch 32GB purchase - http://www.i4u.com/article15237.html
Home Appliance News:
· The Seattle Times – Luxury comes to the laundry room (Front-loading VRT washer) - http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/homegarden/2004252056_laundryroom010.html
· Gizmodo – Samsung’s Vivace Shadow and Neo-Forte air conditioners kill germs - http://gizmodo.com/362438/samsungs-vivace-shadow-and-neo+forte-air-conditioners-kill-germs
· DVICE – Samsung germ-killing air conditioner is a thing of beauty - http://dvice.com/archives/2008/02/samsung_germkil.php
General Industry / Trade / Competitor News:
· The New York Daily News – New products should relate to consumers’ needs - http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/2008/03/03/2008-03-03_new_products_should_relate_to_consumers_.html
· The New York Times – Reading Steve Jobs - http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/reading-steve-jobs/index.html?ref=technology
The SC-HMX10 is Samsung’s first attempt at a high definition (HD) camcorder, and it's done a good job. Samsung, for all its strength in other electronics areas, simply has not been able to compete in camcorders with juggernauts like Sony, Canon, and Panasonic. It wisely decided to aim a little lower and create the best “budget HD” camcorder it could. The result is a great little point-and-shoot that will satisfy those looking chiefly for simplicity, portability, and style. More advanced users should strongly consider upgrading to juggernaut-status.
The Samsung SC-HMX10 comes equipped with a single 1/4.5-inch CCD with a gross pixel count of 1,610,000. When shooting in adequate light, the image quality is better than expected. Samsung’s track record has been less than stellar in standard definition, but the HMX10 produces a pleasant balance of color and sharpness that stacks up favorably against competitors like the Sanyo VPC-HD2. One serious gripe, however, is the fall-off of focus around the edge of the frame. This is only slightly less forgivable in standard definition, but HD exaggerates focal errors because it’s so much sharper. In low light, the camcorder performs as well as can be expected – don’t plan on this being a powerhouse performer during nighttime barbeques.
Ease of use is one of the SC-HMX10’s strengths, with one of the simplest menu systems we’ve seen. Most operation is performed via the touch screen LCD. Touch screens are clearly intuitive and great for beginners, but the accumulation of greasy fingerprints will tire even that crowd. Advanced users will feel the sting of the tiny on-screen buttons, which can be hard to press.
The manual controls are simple and straightforward, a blessing for the general masses. Making the image darker or brighter requires no cryptic knowledge. However, simplicity comes at the cost of serious control. Camcorder enthusiasts will bemoan the fact that the SC-HMX10’s shutter speed cannot be adjusted below 1/60, making it all but impossible to correct its remedial low light performance. The manual focus is entirely reliant on the touch screen – yes, the same touch screen that has your fingerprints all over it. Camcorders from Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and other top-tier manufacturers all offer better features in this regard.
The SC-HMX10 records 720p video (1280 x 720 progressive frames at 30 times per second), as opposed to 1080i (1920 x 1080 interlaced fields at 60 times per second), which is the more popular flavor of HD for consumer camcorders. Video clips are outputted in the H.264/MPEG-4 format, standing out from the two more popular formats, HDV and AVCHD. HDV is tied to tape, and is therefore slowly dying, despite offering the highest video quality. AVCHD is widely recognized as the format of choice for non-linear media such as DVD and solid state memory. However, the files from the SC-HMX10 are markedly easier to work with on a PC than AVCHD files. Each movie clip is a self-contained .MP4 file that can be easily imported into most up-to-date editing software.
The general rule of technology shopping is this: buy the best you can afford at the time. The Samsung SC-HMC10 may be the best you can afford, if you have a line in the sand at $799, but we strongly urge you save up a little more cash and upgrade to better offerings. The Sony HDR-CX7 and Panasonic HDC-SD5 are both flash memory camcorders of similar size that offer better video quality in the AVCHD format. The Canon HF10, due out in spring 2008, is a slightly larger take on the same type of camcorder that has an excellent pedigree for performance – its HDV cousin, the Canon HV20, was the best camcorder of 2007. If appearance is the overriding concern, and bone-simple operation is a must, the Samsung SC-HMX10 is an acceptable choice.
2008 The Washington Post Company and Reviewed.com