I wrote about Samsung’s new BD-UP5000 Duo HD player in the Edmonton Journal this Saturday, Despite its $849 price tag, this is one awesome machine with full-featured 1080p HD-DVD and Blu-ray capability, hardware up-scaling for DVD discs and audio disc play with 99 song playlist.

What amazes me even more, is the fact that Samsung, one of the original backers of the Blu-ray format, even bothered making a high level dual player, what with the coming demise of the HD-DVD format.

Fact is, even Samsung could not have foreseen the quick demise of the HD-DVD when it decided to market a Duo player.

Even so, my Samsung friends tell me the Korean company would have made the Duo anyway, because of one-upmanship.

“Samsung and LG are fiercely competitive and will go out of their way to better each other,” said a Samsung insider. LG’s dual, made wave last year when it was released but it’s doesn’t play full features in HD-DVD mode.

With HD-DVD on the way out, you may be able to enjoy great sales on HD-DVD titles when the long format war comes to a painful end soon…and enjoy them on dual players like the Samsung Duo.

I wonder when Microsoft drops its HD-DVD support and comes out with an external Blu-ray player for the Xbox 360? Or maybe even a dual version?



 Hats off to Sir Richard Branson, for pushing the envelope in the cellphone industry. The off-centre zillionaire and Virgin Mobile Canada founder marched his way through Toronto streets this week to announce a new deal for consumers. It’s named myPlan™, a range of monthly packages to “take the ‘con’ out of contracts” and more. myTime lets you pick the hour when your unlimited calling starts – not like the evening plans all other cellcos limit you too, way after sunset. The cell phone industry in North America is pricey where it’s considered normal to fork out $75 a month for a locked subscription plan. FYI, cellphone plans in third world countries, I am sure they are subsidized, cost several bucks a month.Still we are optioned to bankruptcy with all the extras when signing on a new plan. “More than 16 million Canadians are currently in contracts that don’t always deliver what they want,” said Sir Richard in a Virgin press release. “People now have a chance to join a company that will treat them the way they deserve to be treated.” Telus, Rogers, Bell and Fido…are you listening?

Just got an eval car FM hookup for the Zune, soon to be available in Canada. It’s a nifty piece of engineering, with tonnes of FM frequencies to use, a smart magnetic holder for the tuner and an effective car dash rubber matt that keeps your Zune from flying off. But does it have to be CHOCO brown, a favourite colour but painful reminder of the first version Zune? I guess Microsoft had too many of the turd-coloured pads made so expedience trumps fashion co-ordination.I was also sent the Zune Home A/V Pack with charger/stand, remote control and the dreaded yellow RCA video connector for watching Zune movies on TV. That won’t show very well on your 50 inch flat panel.I asked the Zune Canada folks if higher quality videos would be available. Zip is the word for HD Zune, although the company offers component cables. Maybe there’s hope. Let’s see what the online Canadian Zune Marketplace offers later this year. I have grown to like using the Zune. The large screen and easy finger taping can go through massive song selections like a breeze an it just feels solid but comfortable in your hand. The Zune will be available soon and you will be able to buy locally with a smooth rear plate or direct from the Zune order site in China where for the same price you can have nice artwork, from a large selection, engraved and delivered within five business days for free. OK, this seems to be a raw deal for Canadian stores, who miss out on a sale to a Chinese low wage engraving plant.


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