After spending the entire first day either at the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) booth or the various press conferences, I was eager to get out on the show floor and see what Blu-ray companies were showing at their booths, as well as how much attention their Blu-ray products were receiving. Not surprisingly, the excitement I witnessed at the BDA booth could be seen across the entire show floor.
The first booth I stopped at was Philips. You may recall that Philips introduced the BDP 9000, a Samsung clone Blu-ray player, in the early days of Blu-ray. Since then, Philips has been relatively quiet, which some might equate with their dissatisfaction with the player's sale performance. They would be wrong. The BDP9000 has completely sold through all stock and was seen as very successful by the company.
The Philips BDP7200 Blu-ray player with remote.
Philips is now coming out of the dark in order to introduce the world to the BDP7200, a BonusView player which is expected on store shelves within the next few months. With a MSRP of only $349, it will be an attractive option for those looking for a entry-level player. The player can pass Dolby TrueHD to a capable receiver, and the company is strongly looking at adding DTS HD-MA pass-through support as well. Analog 5.1 output is available for those with older receivers without HDMI support.
They are very excited about the potential this player has in the market, and are currently working on a follow-up BD-Live model which may be ready by the end of the year.
The next booth I visited was Sharp, who were showing their newly announced BD-HP50 BonusView Blu-ray player. Riding the success of the BD-HP20, which has been selling very well, Sharp wanted to introduce a BonusView player which utilized many of their player innovations. This player will utilize Sharp's Quick Start feature to rapidly load discs and also decoding for Dolby TrueHD. There is currently no plans to support DTS-HD MA.
Sharp Blu-ray booth; Sharp BD-HP20; Sharp BD-HP50
Other features include an RS-232C connector and x.c.Color support. The player, which is due to be released in May, carries a price tag of $599 and is considered a step-up from the current HP20, not a replacement. After the first quarter, the HP20 will be replaced with either another entry-level option or possibly a high-end option to compete in that market. The representative did mention that a new promotion for the HP20 was coming soon.
And for those of you drooling for a BD recorder, Sharp was showing their recorders (which are available in Japan) in the back conference rooms to gauge consumer interest.
After Sharp, it was over to LG to see what they had in store for Blu-ray. As with all dual-format companies I visited, I inquired about if their plans had changed with the recent Warner announced. The representative I spoke with at LG stated that they were still content allowing consumers to choose. For the show, they brought along the BH-290, a revised version of their BH-200 which was upgraded to support BD-Live. The player was for the this show only.
LG Blu-ray booth; GGC-H20L; GGW-H20L; LG BH-290;
They were also showing off their latest dual format PC drives in both slim and standard size. The drives, like the player, use a two pick-up system, though the drives are not currently used in the player.
I also stopped by the HP booth, but they weren't featuring any new laptops or PCs for this show. Again, I asked them if the Warner announcement had forced them to change their stance on the format war, but HP is content to remain neutral at this point.
One of the better presentations at the show was the D-BOX booth. I know many fans of Blu-ray films are skeptical about this technology, but the high-end equipment they had in their VIP trailer provided for a really unique experience. While viewing clips from 'Polar Express', 'Stealth', and even 'Happy Feet', the motion of the seats helped draw the viewer into the film, instead of just watching the film. To quote Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."
Overall, the conference was a huge success for Blu-ray. I revisited the BDA booth on the second day of the show, to see if the excitement of the first day carried over to the second. To no one's surprise, the booth was packed just as much on the second day as it had been on the first. Even while sitting down for a late dinner after the show, I heard discussion of Blu-ray and Warner's recent decision to back it exclusively. There was a huge buzz at the show, which is surely going to carry over to consumers.
Josh, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world.. its definately up there with being a fighter pilot.. youre so lucky!! I bet you get a free ps3 and free blu rays every month!! well you deserve it, youre really good at your job