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Blu-ray and Apple

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Ted Todorov, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    As someone who very much wants Blu on Mac,I do feel compelled to point out that Apple's resurgence has been primarily due to exactly the opposite of what you state. Jobs came back from exile and enforced his vision regardless of whether it was what the public wanted or not. The iPod, iPhone, iTunes, OSX and iPad are so successful now that people forget how those products were questioned (some very harshly so) upon their initial release. Whether we like the current BD/Apple situation or not, it's Apple's pursuit of what Steve wanted to create, regardless of what popular opinion at the time was.


    And how ironic is this? Despite what I wrote a few posts up, I'm now back squarely on the My Next PC Will Be a Mac side, even if it doesn't do Blu.

    Why?

    Windows 7.

    Those cross-platform programs I listed above? Well I'm having a hell of time getting Pro Tools to run on it (with Strike 1.5 plugin). I've uninstalled, reinstalled, cleared the registry, updated to the latest W7 supported official build, etc. Still bombs out whenever I launch the plugin. The irony? Runs fine on my Vista partition. Eventually I want to wipe out that partition and go with only one Windows OS, and that's going to be 7. Not being able to run PT on it is a deal breaker.
    Guess I'm going to have to solely watch my Blu on my HT.
     
  2. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Last night I had a full demonstration of what a bag of hurt Blu-ray is. It was my wife's turn to pick the movie, she handed the "A Prophet" Blu-ray. I loaded it in my Oppo BDP-83, we got comfortable on the coach and ... nothing. Stuck on the main menu, won't play. My already HT phobic wife has one more reason to point to why she can't watch a movie without my assistance. We ended up watching another BD, Criterion's edition of "Days of Heaven" -- highly recommended. But this is just the start of the bag of hurt.

    After some googling it turned out that this is a know issue, and I need to upgrade the Oppo's firmware. Now first let me say that in my 2000+ DVD collection I have never a hit a "must upgrade my DVD player's firmware to watch a DVD" situation. But it gets much worse. A friend was kind enough to send a link with the Oppo upgrade instructions.
    http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-83/bdp-83-firmware-50-0424.aspx

    Please tell me how a non technical person is going react to this ridiculousness -- FAT? FAT32? ISO file? Nero? (Everyone I know uses a Mac and has never heard of Nero). Someone needs to tell Oppo that Mac users exist. But more to the point, if they insist on firmware upgrades for basic BD player functionality (playing movies) -- their players should come equipped with WiFi and download/install up-to-date firmware automatically while we sleep. What normal person runs an ethernet cable to their video player? This is not some $99 POS.

    So let me say it here -- and say it loudly. Steve Jobs was right. Blu-ray is a bag of hurt, and doesn't belong in Macs. His evident drive to get rid of optical media, is, unfortunately (I say this as a person with a huge optical media collection), the correct thing to do for consumer sanity.
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I avoided Blu-Ray until last Fall, in part because of the chronic reports of incompatibilities. What's wrong with these BR people, making it so difficult and annoying to watch new movies? Since then, I've had some scattered weirdnesses with the audio output on HDMI failing at times...still don't understand it but somehow it always gets back to normal.

    But to what normal person has their HT system networked: while many people don't, it's becomingly increasingly common. Anyone with a game console (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360 likely has network access for HT gear. Likewise, Tivo, AppleTV, GoogleTV, Roku. And if you don't have ethernet, you can use a $99 Apple Airport to connect to your LAN. And more and more BR players have WiFi built in.

    You got stuck, which is annoying. But it's becoming easier and more common to have all these peripherals networked for simple updating. Even my $100 Panasonic BD60 is networked.

    But to your point...any computer with a Blu Ray player will obviously have network access for trivial updates. By your expectations, a PC-based BR player would be the easiest of all solutions
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Yeah the whole burning a firmware disc process stinks. Even I, a techie, have problems with upgrading my parents' Panny BD player. They have Windows Vista and apparently the disc burning software doesn't burn the image right, so I had to download a free separate burn program to burn the update disc correctly (after four coasters).

    And the funny thing? The damned player has a USB slot, which would be ideal for updating the firmware, but it cannot be used for that purpose. It must be a burned CD.

    The player does have ethernet, but the cabinet where it's stored is like 60' away from their cable modem, so I'm not about to run 60' worth of Cat5 cable just to upgrade firmware.
     
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    60' of cable wound through the house for an hour might be easier than dealing with burning a magic CD.

    I had 25' running from office to living room, through the hallway, before I got the direct connection made. It's an easy temporary solution, if you have spare cable.
     
  6. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Dave, you are defending the indefensible. In my case I have plenty of ethernet -- my Airport Extreme is right on top of the BD player, but no free ethernet ports, so I need another switch/router whatever. But that is not the issue. Most of the examples of media extenders you give are *wireless*. Having a ROKU or AppleTV or ... in your HT cabinet in no way helps you with the requirement for wired ethernet.

    But even that is a red herring. Having to* upgrade firmware to play a major studio release is a joke. Imagine having to upgrade firmware to play a CD. Complete and utter BS.

    * I can see upgrades to get as of yet unimagined new functionality. Watching a film does not qualify.
     
  7. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    They should have used a "fixed target" scenario, like a game system (PS3/360) for BD. Both allow for consistent updating with very little problems going forward, and users who bought them were well informed that upgrading was going to be a requirement moving forward. BD's need for updating was never well communicated nor well understood outside of the early adopters and techie community.

    Also, by leaving it up to the hardware manufacturers to do their own firmware updates, they are already running into the Windows platform problem of lots of hardware to support in different ways, which leads to playback and compatibility problems.

    By using a fixed target, they could have required that a core set of hardware be in place for which standardized firmware would be issued regularly, and made that part of the BDA certification process.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Yes, updates are fundamentally due to studios making life difficult on the end user in futile and misguided efforts to combat counterfeiting by organized crime. We didn't need firmware updates for a decade of DVDs. But here we are, needing a firmware upgrade every six months to watch Iron Man on Blu-ray. I guess I'm glad I only infrequently watch BR, so it's not a practical problem for me.

    And Blu-ray players should have big labels that say, "DO NOT BUY IF YOU CANNOT CONNECT TO BROADBAND INTERNET". I wonder how such truth-in-advertising would affect sales?

    That said, network access is increasingly less of a problem, especially for those that can afford HDTVs and Blu-ray players. I've got a Tivo, Xbox and Blu-ray on ethernet, and another Tivo on wifi. And in y our case, if you've got a wired hub by your BY, why don't just connect it for 20 minutes to get the update (your Xbox or Tivo will surive being disconnected briefly), and then put things back to normal. That sounds much easier than futzing with Nero and FAT32 and perfectly burned CDs.

    Maybe I'm wrong about the Airport Express: I thought it had an ethernet port to extend a wifi network to a wired device. Likewise, I thought you could use a $50 wifi router to bridge a wifi network back to wired devices. Maybe not. If push comes to shove, a person can get a Wifi Blu-ray playerfor $200.

    And that's the state of affairs. We can rail against the annoyance, but this is only going to be more common. Blu-ray players, Tivos, Xboxes. GoogleTVs, ... everything now needs firmware updates. So we have to deal with it. And in practice, my annoyance now are devices that *don't* have online access for firmware updates, like my Onkyo receiver.
     
  9. JJR512

    JJR512 Well-Known Member

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    Neighbor A is a decent, law-abiding citizen who lives in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Neighbor B is also a decent, law-abiding citizen and lives a few houses down. Neighbor A and Neighbor B are both men, both have spouses, and the two families are friends with each other, and frequently visit each other's houses. None of them has ever illegally downloaded movies, music, or software. Neighbor A had a very nice home theater setup in his living room; it is much nicer than Neighbor B's, but Neighbor B has a much larger collection of movies.

    One afternoon, Neighbor A sees Neighbor B and invites B and his wife to come over that evening, and bring any movie they'd like.

    If optical disks go away, how is Neighbor B going to be able to pick any movie he legally owns in his collection and bring it somewhere else to play on someone else's setup? Such sharing is extremely easy with optical discs, and it's legal, too. Where exactly is the movie, anyway? If it's not on a disc, then it must be a file somewhere. Where? On a computer that's connected to the home theater? On a set-top box (STB), like a DVR drive? Or is it stored on some remove server somewhere, and Neighbor B has to have a box connected to his system in his own, and the box authorizes the remote server to stream the movie to it? Again, how can he watch the movie at someone else's house—which is perfectly legal—with this kind of configuration?

    It's not possible now. I can pay for a premium movie on Verizon or Comcast, and get the right to have it streamed to my house for 24 hours. I can watch it on any TV in my house (at least with Verizon, not sure if Comcast does that now, too). But I can't go to my neighbor's house and watch it there, not even if he also has Verizon. If this is the model "they" want us to move towards, then I, for one, have to say, "No, thanks, I'll keep my discs that I can watch on any player connected to any TV, any time, anywhere, even if I don't have an internet connection, even at a neighbor's/friend's/relative's house, even if I'm 35,000 feet in the air on a jet liner with a portable DVD player in my backpack, thank you very much."
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Although I have a problem with the implementation of firmware updates on BD players, I do have to say that I don't find it at all applicable to Macs/Apple, so I don't buy Jobs' "bag of hurt" excuse.
    Computers, especially price-premium ones like Apple, are nearly always hooked up to broadband. Maybe 10-15 years ago there were significant percentages of PCs that weren't online, but I can't imagine that is the case today, especially for people with the disposable income to buy a Mac.

    In those cases, the firmware issue should be fairly easy to update. Heck, Apple puts out software updates nearly as often as Microsoft does (not to the nitpicky little security updates level, but certainly in terms of regular maintenance updates).

    I think Apple's reticence towards BD has nothing to do with firmware and everything to do with Jobs' vested interest in iTunes/downloadable content. At first we thought it might be due also to reducing their profit margins but BD-playback drives are not much more expensive than DVD drives in computers, and would cost Apple even less with their manufacturer prices they negotiate.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I agree. And still I don't understand it. Because I don't see a Blu-ray player in a computer taking anything away from iTunes or AppleTV. Setting aside content-creators, speaking only of Blu-ray players, which are used to watch movies: Who gets a new Blu-ray and says, "I'm going to watch this on my 15" laptop with tinny laptop speakers" Or even, "I'll watch this on my 27" iMac with 2.0 speakers in a desk chair"? Not when you've got a 40" or 50" or 60" TV with 5.1 surround. Even the cheapest HT system is going to be a superior experience to the typical computer setup.

    The one thing a Blu-ray player in my Mac would do, would encourage me to buy more Blu-rays so I could rip them for iPod / iPhone playback. That helps Jobs through his Apple hardware sales and his Disney BR sales.

    I really don't get his stance from a practical perspective on this one.
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Dave and Carlo,
    BINGO!

    I don't care that Macs don't come with Blu-ray
    drives but the OS should at least have support
    for them externally if one chooses to add it.

    I would like to preserve my Hi-Def camcorder
    footage.
     
  13. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Well-Known Member

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    Toast has been able to burn files to Blu-Ray for quite some time now.
     
  14. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Justin, your point is well taken, but it is hardly an insurmountable problem. Right now if I had bought or rented a movie from iTunes, I could copy it it to my MacBook and bring that along with a HDMI cable to the neighbor's house. In the near future, I could just stream it from my iPad to their Home Theater via AirPlay. Clearly bringing over a a physical disc can be more convenient, but when was the last time someone brought over a CD? They bring over their iPod or other PMP. The video equivalent will arrive soon enough, and hopefully DRM will go away on the video side like it did on the audio side.

    Dave and Carlo, yes, of course Jobs is first and foremost looking at what is good for Apple. But he was given a big, fat legitimate excuse by the mess that Blu-ray is.

    I can't believe you guys are still defending the Blu-ray mess. Wanting to stop piracy is no excuse for ****ing the paying customer. The irony here of course is that none of these measurs will work against the pirates, but they will most certainly frustrate and ultimately drive away the paying customers.

    Here is a thought experiment -- imagine if you had to listen to some stern FBI warning (in multiple languages) at the start of every CD? Yet we have accepted that on DVDs and things are only going from bad to worse with Blu-rays. And all we do is mutter excuses "network access is increasingly less of a problem, especially for those that can afford HDTVs and Blu-ray players". Sorry, no. You bought an expensive player, you bought a Blu-ray and now you can't watch it unless you run some ugly ethernet cables that your wife will divorce you for first? So far El Jobso is the only one to point out that the emperor has no clothes, and all we can say is, well it's because he's pushing iTunes. The emperor IS naked, people!
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Did you read what I wrote? I don't defend it. It's a mess; I agree.

    But it's reality. So deal with it. And as such, as a consumer, I see nothing to Jobs' prohibition to it except for his ploy for online distribution. "Bag of hurt" is marketing deception; if you can get a Blu Ray player for $99 at BestBuy and buy a $500 laptop with a Blu-ray player, then Apple can make it work on their $999+ computers. Tie firmware updates into the Software Updates system and there's no more user pain than already experienced with the various updates already needed on modern computers.
     
  16. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    Ted: same question as Dave - not sure you read everything I wrote. I agree with you completely that the BD player situation. Updating firmware is a mess for consumers. There should have been a "fixed target" scenario (like a PS3/360) where there was standardized upgradable hardware/software which would make all discs playable for all consumers. We don't disagree there at all. I personally (as I wrote earlier) have had a tough time updating my parents' BD player...they wouldn't be able to do it without my intervention (and they do have broadband).

    What I do disagree is that the mess with non-standardized, standalone players somehow gives Jobs "an out" from supporting BD. It absolutely does not. Apple hardware are the definition of fixed targets. They control the hardware and the software. They could accommodate BD for very little cost, and would be easily update-able to the latest specs/standards since I'm going to guess over 98% of new Mac owners (which would be the demographic since older Mac owners won't have BD capability) also have internet access. The PS3 handles new discs without breaking a sweat and I've never had playability issues on it. You can't convince me that the geniuses in Cupertino can't make a Macbook Pro/iMac/Mac Pro do what a PS3 does.
     
  17. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    You guys just don't get it. It's not a technology problem. It's a control problem.

    Apple cannot and will not utilize a closed to competition technology where they are not firmly in the COMPLETE drivers seat wrt user experience.

    If a bluray does not play on your iMac due to bullshit spec creep you aren't going to bitch at the BDA you are going to bitch at Apple. It's game over I think, BD will never come to OSX unless apple can somehow wrest control of that tech, which at this point in time seems impossible.

    So yes, I've given up. I'll get the next 15" MBP regardless of whether it has ANY optical media or not, and I strongly suspect it won't, and I won't cry over it.

    Be reasonable, do it steves way.
     
  18. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
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    I think this is it. And it's the part I find most scary about Apple. They have aimed to move toward the kind of monopoly over product that people feared Microsoft was trying to become. To control from end to end what is and isn't possible using their product, something which got the hammer thrown at MS.
     
  19. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    But it's the happy kind of evil!
     
  20. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Agree 100% with Sam. Apple wants control is for two reasons: One is the user experience Sam talks about. Two is Apple being in full control of release cycles -- the don't want to be in a situation where they are faced with either delaying shipping a product because vital tech X is going to be updated "real soon now", or shipping and being stuck with the old version for a year.

    As for the "Apple is trying to be Microsoft" meme -- I disagree. Microsoft was convicted as an illegal monopoly. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in any market* -- and since we are talking about Blu-ray, we are talking about computers where they have, what, 5% of the global market? Using the word monopoly here is laughable. More to the point, Microsoft was using its monopoly in an illegal fashion -- it was specifically convicted of using its OS monopoly as leverage to kill competition in the browser market. Apple is using it's 5% PC market share (by all accounts unsuccessfully) to force the BD association into making Blu-ray less of a bag of hurt. If Blu-ray goes the way of SACD it will be because it shot itslef in the foot too many time, not because Apple did it in.

    *unless you want to talk about the iPad, but it is silly to claim a monopoly for a product that didn't exist 6 months ago. Even the most fervent Apple fans don't think Apple will still have a 95% share or the tablet market a year or two down the line, even if Gizmodo did just call the Samsung Galaxy Tab "A Pocketable Train Wreck".
     

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