Blu-ray Myths: BD-Live is the Future

Sony claims BD-Live can, “enable an exciting state of the next generation possibilities.” That’s not necessarily untrue, but it certainly hasn’t been proven yet either. What is BD-Live? Much like the internet capabilities of HD DVD, BD-Live allows an enabled disc to access an online portal, specific to each studio. There is no central “hub,” meaning you need to register with each studio individually.

But, you still wonder, what can you do with this online access? The answer is straightforward: Not much. Sony has a feature called MovieIQ where newly updated data about the actors in a film can be streamed live during the movie, i.e., if you’re wondering who a certain actor is you can pull up a menu and likely find out. Warner has a live chats with directors, although sparingly.  As for the portals, Sony allows you to download trailers, and Universal (dependent on the disc) allows you to stream movies… once.

The end result is a cluster of some great ideas, and some that are not so great. Paramount’s Transformers HD DVD had a screen-hogging feature that provided information on the robots. Months later when the film came to Blu-ray, you still had to download that feature. Why? Laziness for one, and trying to offer some means to make BD-Live useful. No one seems to have any idea what BD-Live should be, Lionsgate especially with their irritating clock and weather information on the menu, because if you’re sitting down on a Saturday night to watch a movie, you need to know what the temperature is.

There are some genuinely good ideas within BD-Live, such as Universal offering the original Lon Chaney Jr. version of The Wolfman via streaming when you buy the recent remake for example. However, it’s a technical nightmare, the menu is clunky, and it’s far easier to pay a few bucks for the DVD when you want to watch it. They also offered the choice to watch Uncle Buck via streaming… once, and this after a plethora of menus because could you imagine the horror of someone watching Uncle Buck more than once? Stick with the DVD.

In conclusion, if you’re shopping for a Blu-ray player for yourself or someone else this holiday season, you can ignore BD-Live. That’s not to say online features are not important; they make firmware updates far more convenient in most cases. However, if there is a $20 price difference between similar models, and the only difference is BD-Live (possibly also labeled as Profile 2.0), you won’t be hurting anything by choosing the cheaper model.

Matt Paprocki has been a movie and video game critic for 12-years. His work has been featured on a variety of websites, and he currently edits DoBlu.com and Multiplayergames.com.

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  • Jonny Ashley

    I’m certainly swayed from BD Live now. I’m not swayed from Uncle Buck however…

  • Maopheus

    BD-Live is a gimmick. It’s basically a way of trying to apply social networking to Blu-ray watching. I guess they build the players with Internet connectivity mainly for downloading firmware updates. But now they’re sitting around thinking “Shit, what else can we do with the Internet connection?” I’ve used it a few times. I find that stuff downloads too slowly. Also, I have to use a wireless bridge because I have no Ethernet port available. It’s rather inconvenient unless you have your Blu-Ray player hooked up near your PC.

  • Gil

    I think it’s been mentioned before, but Universal has got to have the worst menus on blu-rays. i seriously loath that danged sidebar menu.

  • BigHungry

    BD Live does have issues but there are some elemnts that make it useful.
    EXAMPLE: when movies add audio commenatry to the movie after it was pressed.
    And I will say the live director commentary/Q&A is cool too.

    I will agree most of the downloadable items are too slow but the top items worked perfectly for me.

  • Dizzy

    BD Live is the absolute worst. It’s slow as hell (if it even works at all), and that’s with a direct connection to my high speed internet modem via CAT5 cable. For example, I was watching Step Brothers on blu ray and I accidentally clicked on the BD Live icon which caused the cursor to get stuck while some background process tried connecting to whatever crappy BD Live feature was available. It was a good 3 or 4 minutes before I got unstuck and could finally move the cursor, but not before witnessing a cursor show of every click and movement I made during the freeze as menus opened and closed, scrolled etc. A message to the movie studios… BD LIVE SUCKS! STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT A THING!