Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blu Ray: Big Problems

Recently I purchased a Sony Blu Ray player from Costco—with an instant rebate it came to just over $100.00. After using it for a number of weeks I’ve reluctantly decided that the hassles of Blu Ray outweigh the benefits and I’ll be returning the machine and canceling the Blu Ray option in Netflix.

I’ve noticed that in researching Blu Ray on the internet the main disadvantages cited for the format have to do with price (players and discs) and the need for a high-definition television. Alas, there are other serious disadvantages to the format: the problems in my case seem to reside in both the player and the discs themselves.


—Actually this is the second player I got from Costco. The first one was subject to gray horizontal scrolling lines. Since the second one had the same interference pattern I reasoned that it wasn’t the player so I did some research. It seems that the Comcast cable coming into the television was creating the problem: it was interfering with the HDMI cable. Once disconnected the lines vanished. Of course, disconnecting the cable input is not going to work for most people. Don’t know if this is an issue with other players.

—Basic operations are incredibly slow and kludgy. Just ejecting a disc is somehow much longer than on a standard DVD. Trying to get to the feature, especially on Disney Blu Rays, is just outrageous in the delay involved. First there’s an unskippable Blu Ray promo. Then a number of previews. Then, the movie. No, the download of the movie. Finally, the movie.

—Yes, the movie has no resume function. It doesn’t have a resume function! That is, you can’t stop it, turn off the player, then later resume watching at your previous stopping point. This truly is fatal. [Update: David Pogue, the New York Times Technology columnist, says that ". . . ALL Blu-Ray players do that infuriating thing you describe: lose your place if you hit Stop. An appalling step backwards!"]

—The menus combined with the remote are quite opaque. I’ve accidentally totally stopped the movie while trying to navigate with the remote. Then, see "trying to get to the feature" above.

—Finally, the picture is better, yes. But not by a fantastic margin as was the case when going from VHS to DVD. It’s just . . . better. Certainly not perfect . . . my player had issues with certain panning sequences in the movies, particularly of strong horizontal motifs (steps).

I’m actually wondering if some of these issues couldn’t be resolved right now, except for the companies’ need to have improved models in the future. As it is, the total Blu Ray experience, the player combined with the discs, is far worse than watching DVDs using a standard DVD player. How annoying!

For another take on a Disney Blu Ray disc (with much more colorful language), see here.

1 comment:

Mike Mundy said...

OK, here's another critical post.

I find it interesting how this, to me, vital consumer information just isn't out there.