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Blu-Ray Demo impressions

Ben Drawbaugh

A few weeks ago I had a chance to check out a demo of the HD-DVD player at Sound Advice and tonight I had a chance to see a Blu-Ray player in action. Warren called me last week to ask me if I was going to go to the demo and I didn't even know about it because I threw away the invitation with the rest of the junk mail. Warren was sick and he didn't make it, so you are stuck with only my impressions.

The demo was a part of a larger event which consisted of multiple demos and food. There was even some swag, which I accepted; it was a DVD and a CD, and neither was from Sony. They had a JDM Blu-Ray player on display, not a US model, at first I was surprised to see the coax and 1394 inputs, I doubt they will be on the US version. The biggest disappointed was the same as HD-DVD, which was the inability to demo the interactive layer. That is where the disappointment stopped. They had a demo of Lawrence of Arabia and half the screen was DVD and the other half was HD. It was obviously a better picture quality and it was a more accurate demo than the HD-DVD demo which looked more like SD analog cable vs HD. The only other clip was the "Spider Man 2" preview. The clarity was awesome and I sat through the demo about 10 times and still wished I could take it home.

The most impressive thing about the demo was its presentation. The small boutique shop "Audio Visions South" had a dedicated home theater room setup for the demo. There was a sales person there as well as a Sony representative to answer any questions. The player was connected to a Sony SXRD front projector (WPL-VW100) via DVI and playing at 1080i, I could go on and on on how great the picture and sound were. I liked this demo because it showed how good it could look. I just had to keep in mind the fact that I won't be buying a 10k projector anytime soon and that 110" picture dwarfed my 55" at home. This in contrast to the HD-DVD demo which was in the back of a store on a much less expensive TV in less than ideal lighting conditions. There is no doubt that Sony knows how to put on a demo. The demo was more like being at a show and less like going to Best Buy.

The sales sales rep did say the player was due in August, not July, and that the local store was taking pre-orders with a $500 deposit. Although I was tempted, I didn't order one -- mostly because I would rather have a Samsung in May than a Sony in August

This is really starting to get interesting and I can't wait to watch it all come together.

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