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-   -   Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray ( 10-18-2007 05:40 PM

Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
Spider-man 3 on Blu-ray is one of the Holiday seasonís most highly anticipated releases on the 1080p high definition Blu-ray format but early adopters may have problems playing the disc in many of todayís Blu-ray players.

Using a review copy of "Spider-man 3" on Blu-ray on local tests at, the disc struggled to play in the brand new Samsung BD-P1400. After an excruciatingly long load-up time, the disc starts to freeze and skip from the very start. Audio dropping out, picture stuttering, you name it. Compared to the mainstream consumerís expectation for DVD playback, most couldnít make it to the actual film.

According to various reports, other players including units from Sony, Pioneer and other stand-alone Blu-ray players are reportedly having issues with the blockbuster and feature laden HD release.

Playstation 3 does come to the rescue. The game machine plays the disc like a champ. Although one of the first Blu-ray players on the market, the Sony Playstation 3 is without question the most reliable Blu-ray player on the market. While a game machine isnít suited for many home theater applications, the lack of format incompatibilities paired with a low entry price makes the Playstation 3 the way many enthusiasts test the waters in a ferocious HD disc format war.

The release of Spider-man 3 on Blu-ray isnít the first time that new blockbuster Blu-ray title has failed to play on existing machines. When "Pirates Of The Caribbean" 1 and 2 were released by Disney/Buena Vista, there was hardly a player out that could play the movies. All the first generation Blu-ray players required an immediate firmware update which requires a DVD-R disc being burnt on a PC and run on a machine or the units to be connected directly to the Internet. Each and every one of the reviewers and editors who were using the Samsung BDP-1000 were unable to play new Pirates Blu-ray discs without the firmware update. The new BD-Java encoding of disc (which was necessary for the interactive Liar's Dice game) ironically prevented the movie from playing. So a consumer pays $30 for a disc to watch the movie, and the bonus features of the disc make it not play at all. How intuitive is that?

"Pirates Of The Caribbean" wasnít the end of Blu-ray titles being released and failing in many of the early players. Most recently, FOX released "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer" on Blu-ray. Both of these titles played on less than a handful of the players out there. Again, now it was the BD+ encoding of these discs reportedly that affected successful playback. A firmware update was needed by Samsung for the BDP-1000, which reportedly loaded the movie in an agonizing five plus minutes and then played the movie with more than its fair share of jitter, skipping, and freezing. The Samsung BD-P1200 reportedly did not play the movies at all. After inserting either of the discs, a screen appeared that stated the player could not play the discs and that a firmware upgrade was needed. Some of the newer players did better with the Fox and Disney titles. Playstation 3 still remains the most stable of the available players.

Consumers are struggling to understand why they need an HD disc player when DVDs work perfectly well in their systems. The difference between DVD and HD discs need to be seen and heard and then the upgrade is obvious. What is also obvious is the need for the Blu-ray camp to get their standards more stable so that studios can release top titles that work with relatively manageable number of Blu-ray players on the market. While the Playstation 3 is a tempting audience Ė it's not the only audience. A guy who drops $799 on a "top of the line" Blu-ray player, hooks it up via HDMI and is looking to the best video currently available doesnít want to hear that his player won't play that latest disc or that he needs to spend hours burning and running firmware update discs before he can watch a new Blu-ray film.

mgdurand1 10-18-2007 08:48 PM

Re: Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
I have both a Blu-Ray player (Sony BDP-S1) and an HD-DVD player (Toshiba HD-A2). Also have the PS3 and it performs well with Blu-ray movies.

Have had many such issues on the Sony BDP-S1 requiring numerous firmware updates for new releases, and on some even after the update the load times are very long (FF-Rise of the Silver Surfer being the most recent). Had only one such problem on the Toshiba early on. To my old eyes, both have superb video quality and cannot be distinguished on quality pressings. Studio support favors Blu-ray, but the nod on cost and (at this time) functionality goes to HD-DVD IHHO. Capacity goes to Blu-ray as well, but have not noticed a difference to date. Am frankly happier to date with the performance (functionality-wise) of the $299 HD-DVD over the $1,000 Blu-ray.

I don't think the issue is understanding why Hi-Def DVD (both formats) is superior to standard DVD - that is evident with a first viewing. I think the hesitation is due ot the fear of one format becoming obsolete and "throwing away) substantial dollars if one bets "wrong." Witness VHS/Beta and more recently DVD-Audio/SACD. I hope the smoke clears soon and a single standard is established, which will clear the way for mass acceptance and market growth/price drop.

TheMoose 10-18-2007 08:59 PM

Re: Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
I can understand the need to upgrade the firmware of BD players since it's an evolving format, are people just not upgrading the players until they have a problem or is the firmware not getting out in time?

I have the Playstation 3 & if you use it for playing games online, Folding@Home or go to the Playstation store it requires you to install the updates pretty much as soon as they are released so I haven't had a problem with either of the Pirates movies or Rise of the Silver Surfer & it looks like I won't have a problem with Spidey either.

So where does the problem lie?
Does it lie with the manufactures not getting the software out (Sony is getting the PS3's software out it seems) or do people just not realize their players need to be updated until there is a problem (seems unlikely since I'd hope our AVRev reviewers would be on top of these updates)?

Whatever the reason the manufactures need to get their act together before Joe 6 Pack gets on board.
Early adopters expect some hiccups, but J6P wants a seamless setup.

seanthebrit 10-18-2007 09:25 PM

Re: Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
Avoid the chaos, and enjoy standard DVD's made to look like a blu-ray/hd disc.

I have seen (and am saving $$ for) the new DVDO iScan50 Pro. Even with the 400 Disc Sony 777ES changer as the source, the picture on a 63" Samsung plasma (yes, even a Samsung can be made to look good) was nothing less than stunning. All people who saw this image murmured "who needs hd discs when regular dvd's can look THIS good?". Switching to StarzHD on DirecTV didn't have a dramatic improvement on the image quality which really was the proof.

Of course, the benefits of fast loading, trailer skipping, and the availability of 10 years-worth of releases make the investment (of a video scaler) a much sounder proposition, right?


PS. I don't have affiliations with Anchor Bay, directly or indirectly......

mgdurand1 10-18-2007 11:17 PM

Re: Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
DVDO makes fine products, make no mistake. I had an early model and did notice a substantial differnce in picture quality when using a very good standard DVD player and a pretty good display. However, the MSRP of the iScan VP50 Pro is, I believe, $3499.00. I have not seen this new processor in action, but that sounds like a pretty steep price to pay for HD like reproduction when an HD-DVD player can be had for $250.00. As I said, I have not seen the unit in action but the price would be a bit steep to me in comparison.


deacongreg 10-19-2007 06:36 AM

Re: Many Players Need Firmware Update To Play Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray
Alright, MOOSE, JERRY, KENNYT, ANDREW, I`m going to be real honest here, while, yeah, we might expect some hiccups, this is a little crazy. Forget about Joe 6, the main stream consumer, this is not good period.

Maybe I`m the only one with a wife, family, kids, and a plethora of other stuff to do. But, I would think, that there is a good number of US audio/videophiles that just want to go home and enjoy your system. Sure, there are times when firmware updates and such are necessary. But, something as simple as buying a movie, then going home to play it, now requires me more than it should to load up my computer and wait for an update to come down the pike. I don`t think so!!
There is equipment out there in this hobby that you can tweak all day long every time you cut your system on. I`ve never been like that. Once its setup, calibrated, equalized, unless you add another piece of gear, power up and lets enjoy the music

Again, isn`t that what this is about. Sony and the Blu-Ray camp should really get itself right. It will be interesting to find out what happens on October 30th, the release date to the masses. This could really hurt them. This is a film Joe 6 will run out and buy for the family.

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