Intel have confirmed that the GN40 netbook graphics chipset, while capable of playing some 1080p high-definition content, will not be up to handling Blu-ray HD footage. In an official statement regarding the chipset's abilities, Intel differentiated between "internet HD" and Blu-ray, the former being a less spec-intensive proposition.
Full Intel statement after the cut
"GN40 is designed to do 1080P HD playback for typical broadband internet content; it is not designed to enable full Blu-ray capability where the bitrates and demands of multi-layer content are significantly higher than that of internet HD content" Intel statement
The current suggestion is that Microsoft's own compressed HD format, 1080p WMV, will be playable through the GN40, but that H.264 and VC1 decoding may be no-go areas. Of course, this is exactly what NVIDIA have wanted to hear since announcing their Ion platform, one of the key claims of which is that it brings Full HD-capabilities to the netbook segment.
Despite the fact that no netbook currently has a native 1080p-capable display, that doesn't make Full HD playback useless. The recently released Dell Inspiron Mini 10, for instance, has an HDMI port instead of a VGA output, but reviews show its standard (e.g. non-GN40) Intel graphics chipset is incapable of even smooth 720p playback, never mind 1080p.
[Thanks JJ and Paul!]