Blu-ray may have started out as a mess, with confusing "profiles" and painfully slow load times, but this year's standalone players have finally gotten their acts together. The new 2009 Blu-ray players are already hitting retailers and we're happy to report that all the units we've tested have full Profile 2.0 compatibility, as well as onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. The days of half-baked standalone Blu-ray players are pretty much over.
According to the early reports, Blu-ray is faring well this holiday season and it's not hard to see why. With standalone player prices finally slipping below $250, more popular movies available, and reliable standalone players hitting the market, Blu-ray is now a solid option for those that want the best image quality from their home theater. If you're looking to go Blu over the next few weeks, here's a roundup of our recent Blu-ray coverage to help you make your choice.
We've certainly been critics of BD-Live in the past, but Sony reports that Blu-ray's interactive platform is catching on. Sony's servers for BD-Live content are coming up on the one million hit mark, according to a report by Video Business, and Sony VP Rich Marty is quoted saying that "consumers are engaging with this game-changing interactivity and are defining BD Live as that killer application." That's in pretty stark contrast to previous reports that industry insiders considered Blu-ray's interactive features to be mostly a let down.
While the one million mark is surprising … Read more
So far, BD-Live has been a pretty questionable feature overall, and last week's Iron Man mishap only makes matters worse. According to High-Def Digest, BD-Live servers were overwhelmed last week, making it impossible for many customers to access the extra content.
The fact that the BD-Live servers were overwhelmed only emphasizes the fact that most BD-Live features could easily be fit on the Blu-ray Disc, instead of having to download them from the Internet. For example, we loaded up Iron Man this morning on the LG BD300, which uses a standard USB memory stick to save the BD-Live content. … Read more
We've never been completely sold on BD-Live as a major selling point for Blu-ray. While special features on DVDs are certainly nice, the vast majority of people don't have the interest or time to watch more than the main movie. Blu-ray movies also have special feature sections, plus some movies have even more features available via BD-Live, which you can access with an Internet-connected Profile 2.0 player. While there are certainly plenty of cinephiles that want to watch every deleted scene and featurette available, we doubt it will be forcing many people to upgrade from DVD.
While … Read more
Sony has added BD-Live capability to the BDP-S350, making good on a promise it made when the Blu-ray player was released earlier this year. The upgrade is available as a free firmware update for existing users; it downloads and installs to the unit straight over the Internet at the click of a button. Even better, the price of the player has dropped to $300. That means--for the time being, at least--the player is 25 percent more affordable than the PlayStation 3. … Read more
The now dead HD DVD format had its faults, but we always loved the fact that there was a single hardware requirement for every player since day one. With Blu-ray, there are three different profiles, and each profile has a different set of required features, which affects what kind of special features you can play back on certain discs. And even though manufacturers aren't allowed to make the older Profile 1.0 players anymore, there's still a chance there are a couple of legacy units sitting on the shelf at your local retailer. So, is a Profile 1.0 player worth buying? Should you pay extra for Profile 2.0? Let's check out the differences.
Profile 1.0 is the original hardware requirement for Blu-ray players and essentially meets the bare minimum for playing back Blu-ray Discs. You'll have no problem playing back a movie, listening to standard audio commentary, tracks or using interactive "pop-up" menus, but you won't be able to access advanced features like picture-in-picture video commentary or download any extra content online.
If you're the kind of person that never watches special features, you might be fine with a Profile 1.0 player, but be aware… Read more
When Panasonic announced the DMP-BD50 at CES 2008, home theater enthusiasts who didn't want a game console as their Blu-ray player finally had a fully-featured standalone player to look forward to. The Panasonic DMP-BD50 promises the two big elusive features: Blu-ray Profile 2.0 and onboard decoding for both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Tuesday, we attended a demonstration of the DMP-BD50 and learned some new details. Here's a quick glance at the spec sheet as far as we know right now.
Key features of the Panasonic DMP-BD50:Blu-ray Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) Onboard Dolby TrueHD and … Read more
A couple of days ago I blogged about two new optical drives from Plextor that, besides many other things, can play both HD DVD and Blu-ray media. That's obviously cool, but this level of coolness always depends a lot on the software player. In my opinion, CyberLink's PowerDVD has always been one of the coolest, and most versatile playback applications. Today, it got even more versatile.
CyberLink announced Tuesday that their all new PowerDVD 8.0 Ultra will support the latest Blu-ray BD Profile 2.0 (aka BD-Live). For those of you who don't know what it … Read more
The PlayStation 3 is the first Blu-ray player to support BD-Live functionality, thanks to a firmware update available today. Officially announced just last week, the update (version 2.20) was released right on schedule, and is now available as a free download to PS3 owners directly through the console's onscreen interface. Once installed, it allows the PS3's to access Internet-connected BD-Live content available on some discs. The list of compatible discs is currently minimal--just War and Saw IV available now, plus The Sixth Day and Walk Hard following on April 8--and the first round of BD-Live content doesn't seem to be very diverting. But as the list of supporting titles grows--and, ideally, the BD-Live content becomes more compelling--look for players that don't support Profile 2.0 compatibility to be confined to the clearance shelves. The PS3 remains the best bet for Blu-ray shoppers, even if they have no interest in using its gaming capabilities. … Read more