Samsung Fixing Blu-ray Player Image Problems

Samsung Electronics on Thursday took steps to address image quality concerns with its high-definition Blu-ray disc player. The electronics giant plans to make production changes and offer owners of existing players free upgrade discs to silence complaints from product reviewers.

The movies played on Samsung’s BD-P1000 player had inconsistent image quality, possibly due to a noise reduction circuit, according to a review in this month’s issue of Sound & Vision magazine.

“As we approach the 2006 holiday season, Samsung will make a running line production improvement to BD-P1000 Blu-ray disc players destined for the U.S. market,” the company said.

Long-Term Competition

Samsung was first to market with the Blu-ray player; Blu-ray is one of two competing formats for next-generation DVDs. Sony,Matsushita and most of the Hollywood studios support the Blu-ray format.

Toshiba and Microsoft support the competing HD DVD format in a struggle that is turning out to be reminiscent of the Beta versus VHS battle. The Toshiba camp suffered a setback in July, when a production delay caused the company to postpone the sale of the first recorder supporting the format.

At US$500, Toshiba’s player sells for about half the price of the Samsung model, and reviewers have given the HD DVD machine thumbs up for excellent image quality. However, they haven’t been impressed with the slow operation.

Big Buck Expectations

Considering the high stakes, Samsung needed to address the image quality glitch to preserve its chances of winning the format war and becoming major player on the hardware side of the equation.

“I am sure you wouldn’t tolerate much if you paid $1,000 for this new Samsung player and it’s supposed to be the best thing out there. Any less than an incredible picture is going to send that player back to the retailer right quick,” Steve Kovsky, an analyst at Current Analysis, told TechNewsWorld.

Samsung offered a second reason for the update — to add Blu-ray Disc Java capability to the machine. BD Java is Java-based software that will be included on BD-ROM discs and Blu-ray players to add features and functions such as interactive menus.

HP urged the Blu-ray Disc Association not to use Java. It hoped the group would settle on the DHTML-based iHD instead, because it would make it cheaper for PC manufacturers. iHD is an integral part of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista Operating system.

Convincing Consumers

Whether BD Java or iHD, this type of technology is necessary for next-generation Blu-ray discs, because it allows moviemakers to include all sorts of extras — such as director’s cuts, games, and advanced menu options — to entice consumers to buy movies offered in the new format.

“You’ve already seen the film in the movie theater. In some cases, you might have even seen it on TV and may have an existing conventional DVD disc,” Kovsky said. “Now, they are asking you to buy a Blu-ray disc. So the moviemakers have to continue to add features. It could be games, or it could be impressive visuals in the titles and the menuing.”

With the next-generation format and the Java-based coding, Kovsky said there is the ability to add rich content features that offer Hollywood filmmakers hope for future sales.

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