Tuesday, January 4, 2011

BD quirks

Before going into some BD quirks, here are some additional information about BD for newcomers. As there are specific regions for DVD, there are also regions for BD and generally a BD player is region specific just like DVD players. However, the regions are different; from the 6 regions for DVD, there are only 3 for BD which makes life simpler.
Regions for DVD

Region 1- United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. territories
Region 2- Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland
Region 3- Southeast Asia, South Korea, Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Macau
Region 4- Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania
Region 5- India, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Africa (except Egypt, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho), Central and South Asia, Mongolia, North Korea
Region 6- People's Republic of China, Hong Kong
ALL Region- The discs can be played in any locale on any player.

Regions for BD

Region A- includes most North, Central and South American and Southeast Asian countries plus the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.
Region B- includes most European, African and southwest Asian countries plus Australia and New Zealand.
Region C- contains the remaining central and south Asian countries, as well as the People's Republic of China and Russia.

When buying BD, make sure that they can be played on your BD player, i.e the Region matches your BD player. Some discs are region-free, meaning they can be played on any player and they will have the logo ABC on them. Your BD player bought locally will be region specific for the country you are in but there are hacks that will make your player usable for BD from other regions.

If you are coming from DVD (and most of us are) you will notice that are some things that do not seem right when you play your first BD. So BD is not all conquering and so much for progress.

Loading time
This is much slower than for DVD and it varies from title to title. Though newer players are loading faster but still it is nothing like for DVD. If you have a Profile 2.0 player, disconnect the player from the internet (either the wired LAN cable or Wifi connection) or it will try to access the website for BD with BD Live feature. This will make the loading even slower. Sometimes it will be just a blank screen so you do not know if the player has hanged or your BD is bad though some titles do have some animation or progress bar to show that loading is in progress. Still it is an agonising wait.

Menu Access
So after waiting for what seems like an eternity, the screen finally comes alive. For most BD, it will not go to the main menu but to some trailers or promotional stuff that will start playing. The worse thing is that you cannot skip this in most titles and you cannot move straight to the main menu by pressing any button on your remote. This may be OK for the first time but if there are 10 trailers to run through, and you are loading your BD for repeat viewing, it gets irritating after a while. The only solution I found so far is to press the Next button repeatedly until it takes you to the main menu. Hope other fellow sufferers can share if there is a quicker way to get out of this trap.

Stop, Pause and Go
For DVD, when you press the Stop button for the first time, it will stop and when you press Go, it will continue playing from where it stopped. Not so for BD, a stop is a stop for good, and to continue you'll have to start the whole long loading process again. Granted there are a few BD titles that do behave like DVD but these are the minority. Also there are some titles that remembers where you stopped the last time and will ask you if you want to continue from there if you load the BD again. Some titles also have Bookmark function but it is nothing like the convenience of the DVD by just pressing the Stop and then Go to continue.
You can use the Pause button but some users have complained that pausing a BD for too long will cause the player to hang or even leave a burnt mark on the BD! I suppose this is peculiar to the BD player and not the fault of the BD itself.

Despite all the BD quirks above, the superior picture and audio quality is well worth the inconvenience. How else can you show off your new HDTV and AVR? In addition, you can access the menu and other features while the movie is playing and you can have more extras and special features. For some titles you get the Bonus View or picture-in-picture function; great if you are a fan of director' commentaries and insights on movie making.

DVD Upscaling
Your BD player will also play DVD and audio CD so you huge DVD collection can co-exist with your growing BD collection. All new BD players can upscale or upconvert a DVD and makes it look better on your HDTV, though not to HD quality. This will depend on the source material itself and the process used by the BD player so the result varies but it should be better than watching on a CRT TV which will give your DVD collection a new lease of life. BD players are not meant to play VCD but some models can play VCD but without some of the functionalities like menu selection but really, you should leave this to your DVD player. And after watching BD, you will never go back to VCD again.

The time is now
Though there are move DVD titles than BD titles available, the number of BD titles is growing and older titles are being released with remastered sound and picture that will show you old favourite movie in literally a new light. The early BD releases cost much more than DVD but the price of BD is falling and for some titles on offer, they are even cheaper than their DVD equivalent. So it is time to get yourself a BD player and jump onto the BD wagon.

My next post will look at some entry level BD players for consideration.

Ronald Kwok

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