Depsite being one of the backers to the Blu-ray Disc format, Samsung is apparently breaking ranks a bit and coming out with a player that supports both Blu-ray and the competing HD DVD format. The device is apparently being called the Duo HD Player BD-UP5000 (who makes these model numbers up anyway). Regarding it's dual DVD/Blu-ray player, IDG's Martyn Williams wrote:
One of the main backers of the Blu-ray Disc format, South Korea's Samsung Electronics plans to release an optical disc player this year that will play both Blu-ray Disc and the rival HD DVD format, it said Friday...Samsung hopes to make the BD-UP5000 player available before the end of 2007 in the U.S., said Kwak Bumjoon, a spokesman for the company in Seoul. He said the player could be available in Europe in the following few months, but an exact release schedule has not been decided. No details on possible pricing were also available....The news makes Samsung the second company to shift from a single-format stance and adopt the idea of a dual player than can read both types of disc. The other, fellow South Korean maker LG Electronics, launched a dual player in North America earlier this year.
Of the Duo player, Engadget wrote:
They've just announced the Duo HD BD-UP5000, their first player to support both HD disc formats. LG beat 'em to the punch with the BH100, but Samsung is promising that the Duo HD BD-UP5000 will have full support for HD-DVD (including support for HDi), something LG hasn't been able to offer with its player.
The Register pointed out that Samsung already had an HD DVD notebook in the market plus it put the news in context of some Blu-ray Disc (BD) vs. HD DVD market stats:
Samsung has become increasingly willing to throw its weight behind HD DVD as well as Blu-ray of late, most notably by announcing last month a latptop with an integrated HD DVD drive....Market monitor Nielsen VideoScan's numbers for the week ending 18 March - the most recent stats made public - put BD ahead in sales of pre-recorded content in the US, with year-to-date sales of 549,730 units to HD DVD's 249,451 discs. Since sales of each format started, some 708,600 HD DVDs and 844,000 BDs have been sold....That's content - BD clearly has the lead in hardware sales, thanks entirely to the PlayStation 3.
The Register was also on the news that Samsung added picture-in-picture functionality to its TV-like Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) compliant phone:
Not content with enabling South Koreans to watch TV anywhere, Samsung has decided its punters might want to check out what's on the other channel without missing a moment with picture-in-picture technology....the SCH-B710 features a rotating screen to display video in a proper ratio, and receives video broadcast over its DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcast) network.
DMB is the technology that handles TV-like broadcasts to cell phones and it's apparently very popular in South Korea, one of the few places in the world besides North America that supports the acenstral line of CDMA wireless, vs GSM. The in-line link is to an Akihabara News story which has pictures of the device. Speaking of Samsung phones, the reach of Dave Winer's blog will no doubt lend some cred to Samsung's new split personality SPH-M620 (who makes up these models numbers up anyway?). The tiny phone from Sprint (pictured above) has a numeric keypad and small LCD for phone operation on one side and, well, an entertainment center (much bigger display with media controls) on the other. Wrote my CNET colleague Kent German of the phone:
The good: The Samsung Upstage SPH-M620 has decent call and music quality, an included extended battery, and a complete feature set that includes stereo Bluetooth, a music player, a megapixel camera, and EV-DO support. It also offers an original, ergonomic design that's user-friendly and attractive.
The bad: The Samsung Upstage SPH-M620's battery isn't user-replaceable, and its tiny phone display isn't very useful. The flipping motion can also become tedious when used over time. Finally, the music player was somewhat buggy, and the single speaker had unimpressive output.
The bottom line: If you can get past the learning curve, the Samsung Upstage SPH-M620 is a unique, powerful, and attractive phone that successfully combines music and calling functions into one handy convergence device. It's not perfect by any means, but it remains an innovative, satisfying phone.
And just today, TabletPCReview has a hands-on look at Samsung's Q1b Ultramobile PC (UMPC) with a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, and a 40 GB HDD. The reviewers focus on a the key question: Is the Tablet PC, especially with the advent of flash memory hard drives and their increased performance, worth investing in? By the end, the reviewer concludes:
The Samsung Q1b has prices starting at $899 in some places, which can be a good buy if your needs are simply that of a computing Tablet device that can serve as a weekend/weeknight warrior and you need the robustness of Windows XP applications. It's probably best served in short stints though, and can come in handy during plane and car trips. I like the weight, and the AVStudio feature of being able to use the multimedia aspects without booting into Windows. I think that with some refinement to the battery drain when Wi-Fi is on, a better joystick and a lower price, Samsung could have a winner in the mainstream marketplace.
Elsewhere in Samsung news, SciFi.com reported on some crazy-looking concept PCs from Samsung:
Samsung recently showed off three completely crazy concept PC designs, computers that have about a zero percent chance of ever hitting store shelves but show off the fact that Samsung has some creative designers on their payroll....First off there's the above computer, looking somewhat like a witch's hat. The second, perhaps the strangest of the bunch, looks like a pretty normal PC except for the fact that it's perched on a treelike stand and has a.....
And, Dan Nystedt at Infoworld reported;
Microsoft entered into a broad patent licensing agreement with South Korea's Samsung Electronics aimed at speeding product development efforts for both companies, they said Thursday....Microsoft will gain access to a wide range of existing and future Samsung patents through the deal, including patents for computers, set-top-boxes, digital music players, camcorders, and other products. Samsung published more patents in the U.S. last year than any other company.
Interesting stat at the end there. I thought the annual record was held by Xerox.