Am I Blu

I purchased my Blu-Ray player last holiday season.

I didn't plan to own the new player.  The discs seemed over priced except when they were on sale.  And I was wary of the technology.  But Sam's Club was having offering good deals, so I took the chance.

The first player I purchased didn't have an HDMI hookup, so it went back.  Then I picked up a cheaper Philips model that did have one.  That turned into a journey to find an affordable splitter since my TV only had one HDMI port.  I couldn't believe that most of these splitters were being sold for $100 dollars and up. They cost more than what I paid for the disc player.  I found one from a no name company on Amazon for $15 dollars.  It worked, so I was satisfied.

So did Blu-Ray transport me into the joys of high definition?  Well, not really.  Despite the nicer picture, the technology is still rather clunky.  The machine takes forever to load one disc.   Some discs will load quicker than others.  I'm not sure why.

But there was another factor that I never considered when I purchased the machine.  It must be updated, like a desktop computer.  I was unaware of this until I purchased a copy of "Avatar" last weekend.  I hadn't seen the movie in theaters so I was excited to purchase the film.  I popped the new disc into the machine and waited for it to load.

And I waited for it to load some more.  Finally after about 3 minutes of viewing a loading screen a cheery little message appeared.  It told me that I probably need to update my machine for better performance and to check my manufacturer's website for information.  After more loading time the disc finally played the film (more about the film later).

The message left me baffled.  Update system software?  On a disc player?  How?  My machine wasn't connected to the internet.  I checked the Philip's website and sure enough there was an update.  And the update had a warning that there were some bug issues discovered with the new software.  I read other sites about blu-ray updates that contained scary stories of blu-ray machines being fried due to bad software.  The catch 22 of the whole update deal was that some disks won't play if there is no system update.  And in turn, the update may break old disks that will no longer work even if they did with the older software.  The whole thing had me stressed out and wondering if I would be left with an expensive paper weight if I did update the player.

I forged ahead.  The update consisted of downloading a .bin file onto my computer.  Than burning that file onto a CD-R.  I did just that...and the player didn't recognize it.  I burned and wasted 3 discs before I realized the manufacturer's directions for the player update were a bit wonky.  But I finally triumphed.  It took about 5 minutes for the player to update and restart.

The "Avatar" disk still takes forever to load but it no longer advises me about updates.

Would I recommend blu-ray?  Only if you are desperate to have an HD experience all the time.  But right now, it really isn't needed.  If you have HD cable, the picture is no different than blu-ray.  Is it better than regular dvd disks?  Yes, but strangely not in a noticeable way until you are used to watching blu-ray.  After watching blu-ray disks do you begin to notice that older DVDs look a little fuzzy.  Should you go on a campaign to update your movie collection to all blu-ray?  Definitely NOT.  The blu-ray disks are way too expensive for that option.  They cost about $30 to $40 dollars regular price when not on sale.  And I can think of no movie in my collection that needs to be updated that badly to HD.

So wait.  You can get the same experience with HD pay per view.

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