Blu-ray standard already being altered

Written by Brett Thomas

April 3, 2007 | 10:05

Tags: #br #java

Companies: #blu-ray #sony

So how many of you are excited over a nice, new, shiny Blu-ray player sitting underneath your HDTV? If you have your hand up, you may want to sit down, as this news may not be good for you. The Blu-Ray standard is already being revised, and it's likely to make many current players obsolete.

The change is actually in a new feature called "Blu-ray Java," which is exactly what it sounds like. Blu-ray discs will get the Sun-designed language as a programming medium, allowing complex menus and setups for picture-in-picture commentary and special features. In order to allow for this, the Blu-ray Disc association has mandated that players must comply with new hardware and firmware rules that can decode the language, something that current players just can't do.

Though this doesn't sound like a grand revision, it could have some startlingly large consequences. Movies that carry the new feature (which is mandated to be in service by October 31, 2007) may have very limited playback on older machines, if they even work at all. And since current-gen machines were retailing for $1,000 USD, it could mean some very unhappy early adopters.

Odds are that any machines that can have a firmware update may be able to comply with the new specifications, even if they don't adhere to them perfectly hardware-wise. Of course, LG's Blu-ray/HD-DVD combo drives and the PlayStation 3 will have little problem at all. Since one is attached to a computer and the other is one on its own, neither should prevent an update.

Speculation is that the update won't make old players unable to view future movies, it will just greatly hinder the ability to make use of any special features. However, one never really knows what the future holds, particularly since the new standard will arrive so quickly and Blu-ray is still a very fledgeling format. Since the market is so new, there's no guarantee that movie makers won't start planning to use the features more extensively, given the design will be standard by October.

Do you have a thought on the format change? Or are you like me and think they should have had these ducks in a row before the first $1,000 unit hit the shelves? Tell us about it in our forums.
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