Ok folks, I'm up again. Yeah, it's 4:15PM, and yes, I am just getting up. I work full time (designing consumer electronics) and was finishing my part time classes finals this week, and was out late.
So, I am going to answer a couple of questions quick:
1) For all of you getting confused about the 128Mb of Flash memory, let me make something very clear:
-Just like your PC, the player has two types of storage, Voltatile and Persistant (non-volatile). In your PC, you call these the RAM (and you probably have anywhere from 256 Mb to 4 GB) and the hard drive (500GB or so). The RAM (Random Access Memory) is for running programs, the hard drive is for storing data. Volatile refers to whether or not it survives the power being turned off. This is a basic computer architecture thing and has been, well, almost always.
-This player has 128MB of Flash. Flash is "Flash memory", which is persistant storage, just like the hard drive (and is just like that USB Flash stick you have). For comparison, the Xbox360 HDDVD add-on has 192 MB of flash. The new iPod Touch has either 8 or 16GB. This is not the RAM. Right now, I have used a few megabytes of the flash for the web-enabled content from Transforers. This has nothing to do with, say, the problem I am having with Pirates 3 and the menus.
-I haven't looked it up, but there are probably minimum specs for the RAM to run the HDi and BD Java stuff - this is operating program memory, just like when you buy a game or operating system and it says "requires 512MB RAM to run properly" Some games, like Half-Life 2, said they needed 512MB, but didn't really run smoothly without 2GB due to having to keep going back to the hard drive to load more textures. From an analogous view, low RAM on HDi or BD Java would probably add some more clunkiness, but if the specs are well-defined and the people making content are trying to adhere to them, then this is not probably a problem. My guess is my Pirates 3 menu problem is due to a need for a firmware update for the player with regard to a z-order, semi-transparancy, or overlay problem with the BD Java libraries in the player versus the BD Java libraries Pirates 3 was mastered to.
2) As for the "demo" model supposition - that I bought a demo model. When I purchased this, the manager of Best Buy and I talked about the whole December / January lauch date thing. This is a soft launch for Best Buy. What does that mean, and how do I know? Second thing first - I make consumer electronics that sell at Best Buy, including things that have been soft launched. Now, what is soft launch? The buyers for Best Buy have to pick products to carry in the store which they believe will have high sell-through rates so that Best Buy is not stuck carrying inventory of products that just don't sell (Short Head for BestBuy stores, as opposed to Long Tail for BBfB or other online retailers). For a product such as this, which is a higher end piece, and only the third of the combo players, there is a lot of risk to carry this product which may not yet make sense to the average consumer (not us, guys - we are *not* the average). Best Buy wants products that move to people who can afford them quickly, not products that are available for the shopping convience of the occassional high end buyer. So, with a product like this, they do a soft launch to gauge the customer pull. Send a few (1 or 2) to maybe one or two stores in each sales district, see if it gets bought and how fast. From that data, then determine the order levels for more units to order in January, at the real launch.
Anyway, I expect that the firmware will have an update soon, but yeah - those of us that have it now are going to be a part of the firmware evaluation phase. And please, no one think that Samsung has released a product without testing the firmware. They have tested, and I am sure quite thoroughly, but there will always be issues, and in a combo player, there may be some unintended or emergent behaviors when two completely different codebases are thrown togther in one operating environment. I bet the minimal speaker setup, Dolby TrueHD, the audio glitches I experienced, and the Pirates 3 menu thing are all things that were either below the line on getting stable software ready (the first two), or stuff that just didn't get caught in what I am sure was a compressed validation process.
Overall, I think Samsung was trying to get this thing launched for Christmas which really means Black Friday (look at the old press releases), had problems, killed another one of their players (the 2400, right?) to refocus engineering resources on this one, but still missed it. Yeah, some people are probably taking it really hard from their boss right now. I know I am for a product I couldn't get out for Black Friday due to some unforseen mechanical validation issues.
So, if you want to cancel your orders, then do so and wait for something else or the firmware update. I, however, am not returning this - it works in my system, but maybe not always the best way, but it is a heck of a lot easier than having to use the 360 for HD and telling my wife "no, don't buy that on DVD - wait until I can do bluray too and then we'll get it." Nevertheless, if, come one month from now, after the January 1 hard launch, this thing still doesn't have a firmware update or at least a planned date, then I will get upset.
3) For everyone asking me to test bitstream stuff - other people have answered most of it, but I do not have a processor that handles HDMI at all. All my HDMI switching (and that is it) is handled outboard with Zektor HDMI switches (HDMI5 and MAS71). So, I can only do analog audio for you.
Now, my biggest single complaint about the thing is the lack of an HDMI cable in the box. That just sucks. I gotta go get one (and some late afternoon breakfast).
Once I get this thing re-wired up to my rack with its own cables instead of stealing from other units, I'll play around some more.