Samsung's hybrid HD player - able to handle the full functionality of both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs - should be in the shops by Christmas, priced at a highly competitive £599.

The Korean company also plans to release a third-generation Blu-ray player even sooner - the £399 player should be available by October.

Both players support HDMI 1.3, and 24fps, with the BD-UP500 Duo HD also compliant to version 1.1 of the Blu-ray specification. The cheaper, Blu-ray-only BD-P1400 may be upgraded to the 1.1 spec at a later date, Samsung claimed.

Unlike LG's earlier SuperMultiBlue HD hybrid, the BD-UP500 Duo HD player supports both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs and their interactive technologies. Also unlike the LG, it will also spin CDs. LG is expected to hit back with full-spec, next-gen SuperMultiBlue players. We're off to see them next...

The new Samsung players will be followed in 2008 by the HT-BD2 Blu-ray based home cinema system, complete with 7.1 speaker set-up and support for the new Dolby True HD and DTS HD surround-sound formats. It's expected to cost £1000+.

More after the break

Samsung will also launch a 7.1 receiver - the AVR720 - to match its new Blu-ray players. The design will offer HDMI 1.3 support, with HDMI switch-through for two sources, and also handle the new HD sound formats. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Pictures of all to follow shortly, oh, and did we mention you'll be able to read reviews of the new players in What Hi-fi? Sound and Vision first?

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