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Should I Buy a Blu-Ray DVD Player Now? … Okay, How About Now?

People ask – Should I buy a Blu Ray DVD player now?

Well, it sort of depends.

If I say the words ‘firmware flash’ to you, do you?

a) think I’m speaking Flemish?
b) slap me for being impertinent?
c) slap me on general principle?
d) sob uncontrollably?
e) ask if you can FTP it?

If you answer E, you can stop reading and go out and buy any Blu Ray player – you are good to go but for the average person – the Blu Ray player situation right now is like buying a computer and getting the hard drive and motherboard shipped separately to you. THEY think it’s easy to assemble but why should we have to? It seems easy enough but maybe not …

The reason is that they are still finalizing the software for it for copy protection and for “special features.” They rushed it out to say it’s out when they were competiting with HD DVD for the right to be the high def follow-up to plain ‘ole DVD’s.

Now that HD DVD is dead (hey, surprise, Microsoft backed the wrong technology), they can finally get the updated software out which Sony announced today might be in Fall of 2008.

“Sony has announced officially that its first profile 2.0 ready Blu-ray players will be released later this year. Each will include profile 1.1 “Bonus Play” support, an Ethernet connection and a USB port for external storage. The BDP-S350 ($400) will be available this summer and will be firmware updatable to profile 2.0/BD-Live later in the year. The BDP-S550 ($500) will follow in the fall, and will ship with profile 2.0/BD-Live support installed. FYI, sources at Panasonic have also told us that their first profile 2.0 player, the BD-50, is due to arrive in stores in May or June.”

Why is it important? Not just for the special features but also because some NEW Blu Ray discs will NOT play in older or even current players until you update the software.

On one hand, it’s a good thing but on the other hand, no two models work exactly the same in updating the software or flashing the firmware. Some require you to have a PC-ONLY, download an app, load it on a CD-RW and “run” it … others are okay with a USB stick which is pretty easy process (internet download onto stick, carry it to machine and run it) and others actually have an ethernet connection so you can do it from the machine itself.

Which is which?

Um, yea, That’s the thing. Sometimes you can’t tell unless you go look at the machine and is the guy making $8 an hour going to be able to tell you how to update the profile on this particular Blu Ray player so you have to look front to back to see if it has a USB port and or an ethernet port. If there aren’t any – you’ll need a PC to download updates, burn it onto a disc and so forth.

Sounds like great fun to watch a freakin’ movie, huh?


And you wonder why companies like Apple is eating the lunch of Sony.

Watching a movie requires tech-babble skills.

So, honestly, if you’d rather not bother, I don’t think waiting 2-6 months is going to kill you until the relatively final set of specs comes out with Blu Ray Profile 2.0.

If you want to show off your DVD’s on your HD set, just buy a cheap upconverting DVD player with HDMI outputs. It’s not true HD but pretty nice that your present DVD’s look just a little nicer – again, 2-6 months shouldn’t kill you 🙂

And there are only about 500 movies/titles out on Blu Ray now so every month is only going to improve the situation …

In addition, some early players are missing random feature like being able to decode and play back Dolby TrueHD, etc, etc … (nevermind that the damn cable requires an update also).

Now, if you don’t mind the extra wonk work you’ll have to do, nothing wrong with the players out now – the profile 2.0 BR specs are not going to improve the picture quality any – that will depend on the re-mastering so if you’re comfortable …


The Panasonic DMP-BD30K 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player is highly rated though no USB or ethernet.

BTW, if you care, here is the rundown of the profiles:

1.0 is the launch profile, and secondary audio and video decoders are optional, as is local storage and network connectivity. The majority of standalone players fit into this category.

1.1 is the newer profile, and to take advantage of these discs, players need a secondary audio and video decoder to handle picture-in-picture, as well as at least 256MB of local storage for content.

2.0 is the profile of the future, requiring the two secondary decoders, 1GB of local storage for updates and content, and an Internet connection.


Of course, you can go the PlayStation 3 route. How does a Playstation 3 Blu Ray compare with a stand alone Blu Ray player?

From most reviews, the PS3 actually matches or comes out ahead which is not a bad deal for $399 (40 GB version) – as most Blu Ray players are $350 to $500 right now – that’s basically like getting the PS3 gaming portion for $50 To $100 – a deal most gamers have calculated already … for some, that might be a pointless “feature” though.

The main plus to the PS3 is its already Blu Ray Profile 2.0 compliant with its HDD and an ethernet connection so when the upgrade is released, upgrading is as easy as clicking YES (in theory).

Again, for video quality, most reviews are that it’s a match for other Blu Ray players or even exceeds it. Of course, there are not a lot of other Blu Ray players to compare it to but still nice that you are not really compromising. One major point of contention is that it uses the main chip as its graphics chip (the fabled Cell chip) versus stand alone DVD players but again, as noted – most reviews are positive in regards to its picture quality.

Now keep in mind, there are some audio compromises in what the PS3 offers so if that’s a key contention for you, investigate further.

Also, using the gaming pad to control your BR DVD player is idiotic (as it was with the PS2) so you do have to shell out another $25 for the remote … and of course, what’s a PS3 without a second controller – so keep that in mind but again, it’s a Ps3 AND a full Blu Ray DVD player so that’s something.

(also keep in mind the 40 GB is not backwards compatible with PS2 games but the 80GB version is).

Check back in the Fall for an update to this post but meanwhile, for most people, you probably want to wait until Fall – unless you were just itching for an excuse to buy a PS3, now you have no reason not to 🙂

If you do decide to go Blu Ray, here are some discs that are dazzling …

Of course, you want the 5-disc Blu Ray BLADE RUNNER




300 (made for showing off Blu Ray)


Planet Earth – The Complete BBC Series


Our original thoughts.

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