Home Theater Review


Blu-ray Limits Its Growth Rate With Constant Firmware Updates

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What are the Hollywood studios thinking these days with these feature-loaded Blu-ray titles that have the power to render a player to not play their newest films? While Blu-ray has tremendous power to be updated thus allowing new, sexy added value features - when is enough enough? If you are a heavy collector of movies in HD on Blu-ray or have a Blu-ray enabled subscription to Netflix you know exactly what I am talking about with discs that simply won't play. It doesn't take more than a few weeks of playing movies before you encounter a Blu-ray disc that has some new codex, feature or fomatic that requires you to go to your PC (screw us Mac users) to rip a new firmware update to hopefully allow you to simply watch the movie.

Could you live without playing "Liar's Dice" on the Blu-ray offering of Pirates of the Caribbean? I could. Despite how much some studio spent on an added value feature how is it cool if I can't watch the actual movie? How important are the supplemental materials on a Blu-ray that it forces you to have to do a firmware update on your player? Mainstream users want to simply plunk a disc into the tray, press "play" and watch the movie. DVD-Video provides this level of simplicity yet Blu-ray has decided to make things more and more complicated for the end user. Under $100 players, fast load times and this level of universal simplicity are all key to DVD-Video's success. Why can't Blu-ray follow this path to success a little more closely?

Some people are pretty gun shy with firmware updates for their Blu-ray player and for good reason. I will never forget burning a disc of updates for my first generation $1,000 Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray player. In went the disc and dead went the player. Dead, I say. Never to play another disc. It was as if I lit 10 Benjamin Franklins on fire right in my dedicated theater. Of course, the player was out of warranty and I ultimately recycled the unit at a local electronics recycling event and bought another new player. I bought yet another player after that one and another one after that one but despite my investments to stay current with Blu-ray I still need firmware updates to watch The Dark Knight or for my wife to watch Marley any Me from Netflix. I mean c'mon - what could go into Marley and Me that requires a firmware update? Perhaps it's the Jennifer Anniston Boyfriend Finder game on BD Live that did it? Its hard to tell.

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