LG BH200 HD-DVD/Blu-ray player - First Look

LG BH200 HD-DVD/Blu-ray player - First Look

It's a protracted battle between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray consortiums with no foreseeable let-up from both camps. So you have an option to either pick a side or sit out the tussle--which is what most folks are doing anyway. Alternatively, you could also go format neutral by embracing one of the two upcoming universal HD players, the Samsung BD-UP5000 or LG BH200. Here's our take on the latter which has a slight edge over its Korean compatriot with up-to-date format compliancy.


To hasten the adaptation of next-gen DVDs, the consortiums are offering enhanced interactivity such as live commentaries and picture-in-picture features. These are implemented through two competing advanced authoring software, namely BD-J for Blu-ray and HDi for HD-DVD. The BH200 is, at the moment, the only dual-format with out-of-the-box support for both. In fact, it's BD-J 1.1-enabled and compatible with all the interactive features in the latest Blu-ray titles. There is also a network port on its rear for firmware upgrades and in-movie content downloading, too.

While this player is using a lesser-known Qdeo video processor, it's nevertheless 1080p24-ready via a HDMI 1.3 terminal. This is about the closest you can get to the original video captured on camera, bypassing artifact-prone frame rate conversion for what would be smoother and judder-free visuals. Like most current HD players, you will also have 1080p DVD upscaling as standard. This should give you an avenue for recourse in case your TV's video scalar is not living up to expectations. In addition, there's an onboard USB port for direct JPEG playback.

For those with spanking new A/V receivers, the BH200 will readily output high bit-rate bitstream audio. In case you are out of touch with the latest surround sound developments, we are referring to the latest Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. These promise master-quality soundtracks up to 7.1 channels that exceeds CD-grade recordings. The latter is particularly enticing as most HD players lack such internal decoding and are able to extract only the core or lower-quality DTS signals.


Most videophiles will probably care less about the LG's dated boxy design. But on the vendor's part, what amazes us is the apparent lack of interest in elevating the set's aesthetics. After all, the BH200 bears a cunningly close semblance to its predecessor, except for the extra HD-DVD logo courtesy of its updated conformance. Another potential issue we could foresee is its discreet multichannel audio output omission. This limits the set's compatibility with non-HDMI home theater systems, meaning you will require at least a recently updated home theater system to fully realize the BH200's potential.


The LG BH200 is a promising dual-format player that does Blu-ray and HD-DVD out of the box, unlike the Samsung BD-UP5000. The latter requires separate firmware upgrades to enable the latest interactivity and HDMI bitstream audio functions. Putting aside its unassuming facade, this LG is probably the most complete model for anyone interested in going dual-format.