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No shelf life on Blu-ray players?

BluRayvsHDDVD.jpgRecently Blu-ray was updated, what you didn't know and you own a Blu-ray player? Well chances are you will know about it if you have a Playstation 3 as these were upgraded to Blu-ray 1.1 automatically.

With 1.1 comes new Blu-ray features, features which aren't available on 1.0 players, players which it seems may not be upgradeable.

Now call me silly, but it would be absolutely obvious that with Blu-ray just released and the promise of software updates and features to come, that you would make your hardware upgradeable. Is that so crazy to think?

I've bought a GB £30 Freeview box and a £40 Freeview PVR over the last few years and they both have the ability to upgrade built in, both across the television signal and the PVR through a serial port.

Why didn't the Blu-ray hardware manufacturers think about this? So now if you have HD-DVD then you could be looking at obsolete hardware soon, but you're not safe with Blu-ray. If you have a 1.0 player then chances are you'll have to buy a new one.

Hold up though. Louise sent me the BBC link that has Frank Simonis, of Philips and the European chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, says don't panic:

“Whether you have a profile 1.0, or profile 1.1 machine, the playback is not disturbed. It's the high definition playback that consumers are seeking.”

Let me just clear this up for a second, he's saying that the customers (that's you and me) aren't interested in anything but watching the film. To hell with the extra features that you will soon have paid for and are offered in upcoming versions of Blu-ray players and discs, we just want the film.

If that's the case why do the studios make so much money from double dipping?

Let's face it, the hardware manufacturers were short sighted. That or they did it deliberately aiming to make a profit on the next generation of hardware, after all how are they going to make hardware type profits from upgradeable players?

My advice is when you're buying a Blu-ray player make sure it's the latest version, and remember that Blu-ray 2.0 is on the horizon, and if you're one of the people that Simonis believes aren't in his audience and actually want to take advantage of new features, make sure it's upgradeable.

Right now your best bet is still a Playstation 3, even if it doesn't support DTS-HD audio, just Dolby Digital-HD.

Meanwhile Simonis is full of support and sympathy for the very people who give him his wages:

“The guys that bought the first Blu-ray players are the guys who bought the first laser discs. They know the risks.”

Yeah and without “those guys” (i.e. Playstation 3 users for example) you wouldn't have your big house and a big car. Whatever happened to respecting your customer?



This is one of the prime reasons why I personally hoped that HD-DVD would win the war over Blu-ray.

From day one, HD-DVD has been far more consumer friendly - highlighted by the fact that all discs are manufactured with no region coding, allowing the consumer to have free choice of where they could make purchases of their desired films. It has also been standardised from the beginning, with all players supporting online connectivity and the ability to download "extra" extra features.

Note how Warner Bros, who until last week supported both formats, only released Batman Begins and The Matrix Trilogy on HD because BD was not capable of providing them with the hardware required to support all of their desired features.

One has to question how many more BD revisions there might be in the future. Despite being just 18 months on from the commercial launch of BD, we are now awaiting the 3rd "version" (2.0).

Despite lacking DTS-HD, the PlayStation 3 is certainly the way to think if one is going to take that leap into the world of High Definition. I would sacrifice DTS-HD (most people probably wouldn't even tell the difference between DTS and DolbyHD) for a player which is capable of upgrading it's firmware to play newer and future discs.

I am surprised at how many of the Blu-ray discs are not region coded, and then for the ones that claim they are, be surprised at the amount that technically aren't and play on different players anyway.

Well perhaps DTS-HD can be software updated too...although I'm not so sure on that one.

I remember how many generations of DVD players there were initially, and I took the plunge on the third at a whopping price, but to be fair they weren't leaping this much in technology.

I think we'll find that this second generation will have internet/PC upgradeability, or at least you should make sure that you buy ones that are and inform the marketplace that's what you want.

The majority of Region A (US) BD's that are region free are far less than those from Region B. I think if I'm going to take the plunge, it will be for a US PS3 as I'll have a far greater selection with all US/Asian releases beong compatible, along with what appears to be the majority of European/Australian releases.


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