Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD didn't make the big splash many of us were expecting when they launched late last year. With a slow dribble of Blu-ray drives (and very little in the way of HD-DVD) emerging, even home-cinema enthusiasts mostly opted to sit on the sidelines until one of the two competing formats was crowned the winner.
A novel solution to this problem is for firms to launch drives that are compatible with both formats. The civic-minded LG has done just that with its GGW-H10N (or the Super Multi Blue, to give the drive its catchier name).
The LG GGW-H10N can indeed play both HD-DVD and Blu-ray – and, in the case of the latter, it can record as well. However, great though the idea is, it won't guarantee you protection in the event that one of the standards falls by the wayside.
If Blu-ray becomes obsolete, for example, your collection of Blu-ray films would remain usable only as long as you could buy a drive that played that format – and this one won't last forever. If all future drives were HD-DVD only, it wouldn't be long before you could no longer buy a new player that allowed you to watch Blu-ray.
Let's hope that more companies follow LG's lead with the LG GGW-H10N, so that we have a repeat of the DVD writer situation, where all drives continue to support both DVD-R and +R, rather than a Betamax-esque disaster.
The LG GGW-H10N's software is handled through CyberLink's HD suite, and while we slightly prefer the likes of Ahead Nero, PowerDVD and PowerProducer are simple to use.
Playback of Blu-ray and HD-DVD was fairly smooth, although you'll need some tasty hardware to watch such content. If your graphics card isn't at least an nVidia GeForce 7900 or an ATI Radeon X1900, you might need to replace it. Less radical but hardly unwelcome is the appearance of a Sata interface – almost all motherboards have such an interface, but owners of older PCs may need to check.