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.