This was just added to the PC World review (adding to what was there yesterday):Disc Playback.
The Samsung player was very responsive as I navigated amont different aspects of the disc. I noticed that, upon rewinding within a scene, rather than precisely starting where I stopped the rewind, it instead did an auto-back track for a few frames, so I'd catch the frames just before the spot I intended to stop at. The BD-P1000 also provides an on-screen cue telling you how fast you're scanning; the Toshiba player does not.
Disc startup times--from insertion to first picture--seemed to vary from disc to disc, but all of the discs I tried were faster than the Toshiba player (when tested without the firmware update that Toshiba issued two weeks ago). Whereas the Toshiba player could require from a minute to up to 90 seconds to load a disc, the Samsung player was speedier: Memento required 32 seconds to load; House of Flying Daggers, 44 seconds; 50 First Dates, 31 seconds; The Fifth Element, 32 seconds; xXx, 32 seconds.First Movie Titles and Disc Capacity.
In a recent column, I observed how much disc space was utilized by eight HD DVD titles. Even though all eight titles relied on the latest video codecs--VC-1 and MPEG-4 AVC, both of which are more efficient encoders than MPEG-2--most of the titles showed signs of pushing HD DVD's capacity limits. The Last Samurai topped out at 27.3GB, Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles at 25.4GB, The Phantom of the Opera at 24.8GB, Jarhead at 24.7GB, The Bourne Identity at 22.7GB, Serenity at 19.6GB, The Fugitive at 18.2GB, and Doom at 16.5GB. It seems that the first wave of Blu-ray titles are also pushing the space constraints of the format. For now, these titles are limited to 25GB single-layer discs; 50GB dual-layer discs are forthcoming, though. Using Sony's new Vaio AR Premium, a $3500 notebook that includes a Blu-ray Disc burner, I checked out how much disc space Sony's first seven Blu-ray titles (encoded in MPEG-2, and many of them light on extra features) required. The results of this survey were quite telling: The Fifth Element needed 22.8GB; The Terminator, 23GB; House of Flying Daggers, 23.1GB; xXx, 22.3GB; Hitch, 22.9GB; Underworld Evolution, 22.5GB; 50 First Dates, 18.8GB.
My one takeaway from this random survey of both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles: The physical disc format's capacity is going to be more integral to the future presentation of content than perhaps Hollywood, or even industry observers, originally anticipated. Admittedly, with time the industry will develop better, more efficient video encoders that will produce equal video quality at lower bit rates--thereby requiring less space on a disc to do the same job. However, none of these early titles are tapping the full potential of extras filmed in high-definition, let alone the interactivity afforded by the authoring environments of either Blu-ray Disc (which uses its own flavor of Java), or HD DVD (which relies on Microsoft's iHD).Picture Quality.
Considering how many variables go into producing a movie title--be it on DVD, HD DVD, or Blu-ray Disc--I am not ready to judge the Samsung player, or the Blu-ray Disc format for that matter, on the first titles released by one studio. Look for a separate blog with my thoughts on the issues involved in judging picture quality on these next-generation discs. And, when we have a Samung player in-house, I'll report on the results of my more thorough, comparative image quality testing.