The department you don't want

From the “You’re going to take it in the rear and pay for the privilege” department is Sony’s Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Recently, Warner announced it will dump the HD-DVD format leaving Blu-ray with 70% of Hollywood studios. This means the clouds have parting in this high-definition format war and it’s safe to buy, right?

Not so fast, tech-lover. All of the Blu-ray players currently available are version 1.0 players. With the exception of the PlayStation 3, version 1.0 players will not be upgradable to version 1.1 or 2.0 so you’re out of luck. You might think the player you have works just fine so you’re good. Expect to see new discs with stickers reading “Bonus View” meaning they have features requiring a version 1.1 player. Toward the end of this year, discs will be released with stickers reading “BD Live” meaning even more features, requiring a version 2.0 player, are included. Your current player will certainly be able to play the movie itself, but how much of the bonus material you’ll be able to watch is an open question.

Why the couldn’t they design the players so customers could upgrade the firmware, is what I want to know. HD-DVD players could do this easily enough. Presumably, this is also how the PlayStation 3 will be upgraded. Why not allow this rather than leaving customers with a device with which they can’t access some of the material on their discs? The most annoying part is many people will buy an updated player, making the companies’ consumer-unfriendly plan pay off.

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