Blu-Ray Blues

Blu-RayOur DVD player died last November and we’ve been using the XBOX360 to watch movies. That’s been a pretty decent movie machine but we started to think it might be time to get a blu-ray player to take advantage of our TV’s HD resolution. So this past weekend we did a bit of comparison shopping and based on consumer / professional review, we decided to go with a Samsung BD-P1600. The player was on sale at a good price, and I had it hooked up and running in a matter of a few minutes. I successfully connected the player to the internet and all seemed good.

That evening we invited some friends over and watched the blu-ray version of  “Cars”, which looked great. At some point during the evening the player went online and downloaded a firmware update. Once the update was applied, things went very wrong. First, the player would not connect to the network or play a movie normally. After powering down and back up again, the player was stuck in “LOAD” mode and no longer responded to either the remote or front-panel buttons.

I spent about four hours online researching this issue and discovered entire forum threads dedicated to consumers complaining about this issue with the player. Samsung recommends that consumers download a firmware update to a USB storage device and then apply it twice to the player in order to fix the issue. I couldn’t get the player to recognize my USB device for the first several attempts. When it finally did, and applied the update, the machine auto-restarted. Then I had to do it again. Finally, I restarted the player and discovered after all that work it still was unresponsive. Fortunately, I could return it to the dealer and get a different unit.

So this evening I took it back and purchased a Sony BDP-N460, which seems to be working just fine. It receives a pretty solid review from users and technology pros, and the picture looks very good. And yes, this time I went and searched the user forums to ensure it didn’t have a history of behavior issues. This player also downloaded a firmware update; after downloading, installing restarting, all is good. Hopefully it’ll be less problematic than the Samsung. My biggest disappointment with the Samsung player was that it needlessly died after applying a manufacturer-supplied update, that for OVER SIX MONTHS has been known to cause the player to catastrophically fail! Bad software patches occur, but it’s appropriate to pull them down or update them once consumers report a problem. I can’t understand why Samsung would continue to allow this firmware update to be accessed by users.

If you’re on the hunt for a solid basic blu-ray player, you might consider the Sony BDP-N460. It seems to get positive reviews and is a good value for the money spent.

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