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Blu-ray Firmware Updates: We Need a Better Solution

Mar 21, 2011 12:59 PM, By Jason Bovberg

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But there’s another point of view—one that captures my perspective a little better—and that’s that the concept of continuous technology updating nicely reflects our 21st century always-connected lifestyle. I think the fact that we can connect our devices to the Internet and have the ability to constantly improve those devices (I use the term “improve” in an optimistic, theoretical way) is quite excellent. It speaks to a new era of technology that lets our systems evolve during their lifetimes. Just as we constantly update our computers with product revisions and security protections, we can now apply that kind of “ongoing improvement” mentality to our home entertainment.

But what of the delivery mechanism for these firmware updates? Because that’s really the main source of frustration for my father (and probably many like him). Let’s face it: The vast majority of the increasingly large Blu-ray audience hasn't connected their players to the Internet, either through a wired Ethernet connection or wirelessly. It’s just not in the popular mindset to do so. Sure, most people understand that their players have the ability to connect, but they haven’t really grasped the reasons sufficiently to actually get beyond the inconvenience or cost of making it happen. Equally problematic is the notion of finding and downloading the firmware update from the vendor website, obtaining writable CDs, and burning it to disc.

“I shouldn’t have to do that!” my dad would say.

So, why not make it simple? I propose including the latest firmware updates on the latest Blu-ray discs themselves. After all, these are generally small files, and even including options from an array of manufacturers would fit within the vast storage space available on a Blu-ray disc. And if a little extra space is necessary, get rid of those annoying forced trailers and Blu-ray advertisements at the start of the disc! (“Yes, we already understand the benefits of Blu-ray! That’s why we bought this player and are playing THIS DISC!”)

With this solution in hand, my dad would simply insert the latest Blu-ray disc he gets from Netflix, and it would prompt him, “Do you wish to update your player to Samsung Firmware version X.XX?” and he would choose Yes or No. Simple as that.

It’s sure a heck of a lot better than including a card inside the Blu-ray case that simply says, “You may need to perform a firmware update to play this disc.” See, that just infuriates consumers like my dad. And to be honest, my proposed solution would be a lot easier on me, too.

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