Don’t buy a new player just yet, folks!!

LG offers dual-format DVD
LAS VEGAS — A new high-definition DVD player is offering a glimmer of hope for those hopelessly confused by the Betamax-vs.-VHS-style format war currently being waged in the arena of next-generation living room entertainment.
But the hope comes at a steep price.
At the kickoff of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, LG Electronics announced it will be releasing a high-definition DVD player that will play both Blu-ray and HD DVD movies, meaning film fans will be able to buy movies in either of the competing formats and have them play on a single device.
“Through the dual-format HD player, LG has eliminated the fear of having to commit to one technology and made this innovation accessible to everyone,” LG Electronics Canada spokesman Frank Lee said yesterday.
The LG SMB-007 — Super Multi Blue player — will be available this spring for $1,499.
While the cost of the all-in-one player will certainly cause some eyes to water, Lee said it’s not uncommon for a new technology to come at a premium price. “We need to remind ourselves that no more than 20 years ago an entry-level mono VCR was being sold at $1,199,” he said.
Apart from the sticker shock, the Super Multi Blue player comes with another caveat — it’s less a perfect melding of the two technologies than it is a Blu-ray player that also happens to support HD DVD playback. The much-touted interactive menu features of the next-gen DVD formats will be functional only for Blu-ray movies played on the device, not HD DVD flicks.
The ongoing format war between the Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies has been compared to the Betamax versus VHS dust-up of the late ’70s and early ’80s. So far, HD DVD players have seen better sales, although the Blu-ray format enjoys greater support from the major Hollywood studios.
Lee said the consumer will ultimately decide whether Blu-ray or HD DVD emerges triumphant in the format war, but that the new hybrid player will serve the needs of those who want to cover both bases without buying two devices.
The sprawling LG booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center drew throngs of curious onlookers yesterday, many of whom were gathered around a Super Multi Blue display showing a Blu-ray movie running on one of the new players and an HD DVD movie on another. Even Hollywood megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer stopped by briefly to check the device out.