Samsung universal HD DVD/Blu-ray player still a possibility

Their BD-P1000 isn't even -- officially -- on shelves yet, and already Samsung is talking about their next Blu-ray player. Well, not their next Blu-ray player, their next Blu-ray and HD DVD player. Samsung announced the possibility of a dual-format player last year, but later drew back from such plans, saying licensing agreements made such a player "impossible". According to Digital World Tokyo the unit may still see daylight, "if HD DVD proves as successful as Blu-ray disc".

While we didn't think the battle would be decided so early, this could be a crucial period for Toshiba and their supporters to gain traction and force compromise from members of the Blu-ray camp. With shaky early reviews, Blu-ray may not be coming from the position of strength we previously expected.

LG has already shelved their scheduled Blu-ray player in favor of a multi-format box, but many questions remain. How much will such a device cost, potentially requiring two blue laser read heads, an additional read head for existing DVDs and CDs, plus two sets of licensing fees? Even though it would guarantee compatibility, they could price themselves right out of reach of mainstream consumers for a very long time. On the other hand, without some agreement, high definition DVD formats risk going the way of SACD and DVD-Audio no matter the price.

Samsung and Toshiba already have a partnership that would give both access to the others technology, as well as a similar cooperative between NEC and Sony. Other manufacturers on the Blu-ray side belong to the DVD Forum and would have access to HD DVD that way, so there is always a possibility. Unfortunately, it's hard to say what this would mean for early adopting HDTV owners who purchase on either side prior to a compromise, but that's the risk we take. The Playstation 3's Blu-ray player and Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on could also be affected, if they end up only playing some high definition movies while standalone players can read both. Consumers and content providers have continued to show a preference for a universal player or format, maybe the hardware guys are getting the message.

[Via digg]