Once I saw how well the LG did with the test patterns, I immediately went to my DVD collection and pulled out Kathy Griffin’s Allegedly, a riotous stand-up comedy performance that is marred by poor video mastering, with obnoxious combing and feathering artifacts which most players and displays have a hard time dealing with. Here, the LG does a fantastic job of correction and reconstruction, displaying a nearly perfect rendering that looked smooth and crisp on both my 1080p reference displays.
With the HD DVD of Transformers, the LG put out a wonderfully detailed picture, replicating the patina of the theatrical release. Given the movie’s emphasis on high speed CGI effects-laden sequences, I looked closely for possible playerrelated artifacts and could find none.
I then went to check out how the LG fared with the boxed-set first season of NBC’s Heroes on HD DVD, and once again, the player put forth a richly colorful and sharp presentation that goes to show how superior these new high resolution disc formats are to their broadcast, cable and satellite HD equivalents.
Turning to Blu-ray, I popped in Legends Of Jazz, a live studio recording captured in 1080i high definition video that features abundant blue accent lighting—just the ticket to see how a player handles deep, dark blues. I’m pleased to say I could see no banding artifacts at all. As the overhead camera panned and rotated over the grand piano, I noted that even with the rich blue lighting, the piano’s strings were easily delineated and jaggie-free—yet another testament to the LG’s video processing expertise. Like the Samsung, the LG outputs two-channel Dolby TrueHD and DTSHD audio via HDMI. LG couldn’t say at presstime whether it will offer a firmware upgrade to enable multichannel high resolution audio output via HDMI, though that capability is on their wish list. Unlike the Samsung, the LG does not feature multichannel audio analog outputs, instead opting for a simple stereo pair.
Still in a jazz mood, I listened to Laura Fygi’s Bewitched CD [Polygram Records] to see how the LG’s analog stereo output sounded in comparison with the digital output, and found that the analog sound quality equaled what I heard when I switched to my Denon’s digital input—no problems there to report.
At exactly the same price of the Samsung BD-UP5000, the LG BH200 would, at first glance, seem to be the Samsung’s virtual twin. But, the LG is different enough in certain key respects. For example, the LG provides picture adjustments, while the Samsung does not. The LG does have 24 frame 1080p output via HDMI (as does the Samsumg), but on the LG it isn’t a feature that’s selectable from the setup options. Instead, the LG “polls” the display and requests the display’s preference at startup, where a user selectable option, which the Samsung provides, would be preferable. The forthcoming Profile 1.1 firmware upgrade should satisfy Blu-ray cinephiles who want to use Bonus View picture-in-picture features, and the LG’s overall video performance is downright excellent. Compared to separate standalone Blu-ray and HD DVD players, or even a pair of PS3 and Xbox 360 (with HD DVD external drive) game console equivalents, the LG is more convenient to use and a better performing choice for not that much more money.