Poll: Is Your Blu-ray Player Connected to the Internet?

Back when the Blu-ray format was launched, the ability of players to connect to the internet was touted as a huge advance that would revolutionize the way we watch movies. Even if the feature didn’t quite live up to that hype, the internet connection still has its uses. Is your player connected online?

In the early days, the Blu-ray studios and manufacturers promoted BD-Live as a killer app that would showcase the format as a next-level entertainment product, and allow viewers to interact with the movies they watched in ways never dreamed of on DVD. “Convergence” was the buzzword promising to bring movies and the internet together, as if that was something that anybody actually wanted or cared about.

Sadly, BD-Live wasn’t ready to go when Blu-ray was launched in 2006 and had to be held back for two player generation cycles. (Do you remember the ridiculous player “Profiles”?) By the time it arrived, BD-Live felt half-formed, and most of the interactive features offered on Blu-ray were gimmicky and useless crap. Even more problematic was the simple fact that nobody in the audience gave a damn. Watching movies is a passive experience and does not require interactivity.

As far as I can tell, BD-Live is effectively dead right now. I can’t remember the last time I loaded a Blu-ray that had exclusive online supplements. The Hollywood studios have simply given up on them due to lack of interest. I doubt that anyone really misses them. I certainly don’t.

However, even as BD-Live failed, Blu-ray players evolved to find other uses for the internet connection. Blu-ray players these days do more than just play Blu-rays. They often function as entertainment hubs that allow users to stream movies from the web, play games, or access other online apps and content.

I may stream the occasional movie from VUDU, but I mostly reserve my Blu-ray player’s internet connection for firmware updates. What do you use yours for? Vote for as many options in the following poll as apply.

What Do You Use Your Blu-ray Player's Internet Connection For?

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If you actually ever used BD-Live, what were some of the better features that took advantage of its capabilities?

18 comments

  1. My Blu-Ray player is a very early and very basic Sony model so all connecting to the internet does is slow the thing down. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure it has no substantial internal memory so getting an extra content is pretty much impossible. the most annoying thing are some of the earlier Blu-Rays that push you for an internet connection, I believe this is how my Terminator 2: Judgement Day Blu-Ray is. It takes an immense amount of time to load, then informs me a network connection could not be established and when I hit “ok” it takes some more time to load now that its not trying to connect to the internet. frustrating.

    • Chris B

      You should bite the bullet and grab a new player man. I recently picked up a basic Samsung for 80 bucks to hook up on the main floor of my house (I have a 3 year old samsung player upstairs) and the difference in speed between the two is crazy. I can’t imagine the waiting pain if you’re still using a model from the early days of the format. For the amount of frustration you’ll save, the money is totally worth spending:)

    • William Henley

      Terminator 2 is painfully slow on older players. I agree with Chris, bite the bullet and pick up a new player. And just FYI, the amount of material available over the internet on Terminator 2 is amazing – it is hands down probably the best use of the technology. However, I don’t think the slow down on T2 on older players was due to internet access, I think it was due to how much Java was on the disc. Those older players are painfully slow on any disc that has Java on it.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        As I recall, all of the content on the Terminator 2 Skynet disc was recycled from previous Laserdisc and DVD editions, just broken up and reconfigured to branch from the movie and require an internet connection. It could easily have all been put on a second disc, where it would be more convenient to browse and access anyway.

        • William Henley

          There were so many releases of T2 on Home Video, I can neither confirm or deny it. I do know that the Skynet Edition had way more material than any home video version I ever owned, but I also had the VHS copy, the very first DVD release and the very first Blu-Ray release of it before I got the Skynet Edition. But yeah, it really seems a waste to stream 12 gig worth of suppliments off the internet when you could have thrown it onto another disc. Still, that material that is there is great material.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            The Laserdisc box set for T2 was jam-packed with features. Most of them were ported to DVD for the “Ultimate Edition” and again to Blu-ray for the Skynet disc. I believe that almost everything on the Skynet disc is old content.

      • I had upgraded to a newer Sony model a few years after I got my first one but, being the kind son that I am, I left it with my parents when I moved all of my various electronics with me to college and took the older model instead. Now I just don’t have the gall to drop any money on a new player when my current one works just fine, albeit a little slow. I can definitely agree with your statement about Universal killing it as any time I go to put in a Universal Blu-Ray into my machine I make an audible groan paired with a heavy eye roll.

  2. William Henley

    There are some BD-Live features I really like. Terminator 2 Skynet Edition had probably the best use of the feature I have seen (although it would have made much more sense to just throw all the content onto a second disc). I think the second Narnia movie made pretty good use of it – Not all of the bonus features were finished when the disc went to press, so there were a few features that were streamed via BD-Live.

    I have also seen a few a few places that will use the feature to stream behind-the-scenes previews and making of the next movie in the series as they are filming it. That was cool, and hyped me up for the next movie (I think that may have also have been Narnia, but cannot remember off the top of my head).

    A few of the Star Trek discs make interesting use of the technology, they will load up NASA RSS news feeds and use them as background graphics and news stories and stuff.

    Universal kind of killed the technology for me, though – they had forced previews before the movies, and the discs would hit the internet to download the latest trailer from Universal. Depending on your player and internet connection, this process could take a minute or two. It lead me to finally disable the BD-Live feature on my PS3 at the time, and only turn it on on certain discs.

    My current player does not have wifi, I only have one ethernet cable run to the entertainment center, and it is currently hooked up to my old XBox 360. I don’t think I have watched a single BD-Live feature on my new player, and truthfully, I can’t think of a disk I’ve picked up in the past few months that even had BD-Live.

    Long story short, BD-Live is a great idea, and I have seen some great implementation, but Universal’s forced downloading of trailers lead me and a bunch of other people to turn the feature off.

  3. Bill

    I use the internet on my BD player, a Sony BDP S590, for firmware updates only. Except when I am doing an update, I keep the player disconnected from the internet. I’ve tried the APPS on my player but I find they are all very poorly designed. A standalone internet box/dongle like Roku or Chromecast makes more sense and is of more use to me. One other issue. On my player the NHL Gamecenter Live APP is about five to ten min. behind the actual play. This compares to almost real time for the games on the internet/streaming via IOS/Android/my PC. That is just too long a delay to even pretend that the broadcast is “live”.

  4. Guy

    I have an Ethernet-only player and no wired access in my current living room situation. It’s not even a year old and I updated the firmware the day I got it, so I imagine it’ll never be connected to the internet again. All I can imagine them updating is the app situation and they’re all useless offline anyway. My TV and game consoles are Wi-Fi compatible for television streaming, so buying the player that contained no wireless receiver for $20 cheaper than its Wi-Fi brother seemed like a no-brainer. I checked out the online special features on my old player years ago and never saw anything that screamed that an internet connection was a necessity. I know that sort of thing has gone even more by the wayside since, so neither of the two reasons to connect a player provide any benefit to be.

  5. I have never connected the player to the internet, and I never had to download a firmware. Yay! Even my two HD DVD players are still ‘as they were, in the box’. There’s a warning in almost every disc (“for the latest firmware, go to …”), and I suspected some newer discs to be incompatible, but luckily all discs play just fine.

  6. merlich

    My Sony BDPS5100 is connected via Wifi. I use the connection to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime and it works much better than the second generation Roku I used to use. Only updated the firmware once.

  7. My living room player (Panny DMP- BDT330) is connected with a LAN cable right from my modem. I use it for firmware updates, Netflix, and Vudu. I also have a Sony BDP-S360 that I use to compare remastered discs with old discs that I occasionally connect to the Internet to check for firmware updates. My bedroom player (Panny DMP-BDT310) is wifi connected and used for the same as my living room player, but the Netflix changes from hi def to standard all the time and can’t stream 3d content from Netflix or Vudu, but still works really well. It’s a shame because aesthetically speaking its a better looking player than my 330.

  8. Mostly firmware updates but the very occasional streamed video or two, no substitute for a bonafide Blu Ray disc though. Have considered running the little applet that lets me connect to my PC and play media from there but thus far when I want to play the media I use a USB device instead. Why leave the PC on for this?

    One of the Samsung apps that *might* serve a purpose if it allowed me to configure it is the weather app. I am in Maine and it shows me weather for New York City. Thanks guys, just what I needed.

    I have BD Live Prohibit setting enabled – I do not want to interact with my movies and I do not need the extra load time.

  9. Lone_gunmen

    BD Live stinks. I have no interest routing ethernet to my home theater set up just to watch some content that should be ON THE DISC TO BEGIN WITH.

  10. C.C. 95

    Ug. I don’t like the internet accessibility features on Blu ray discs. I mostly didn’t care at first, but I got hopping mad when I ran a Sony Blu ray movie through my Sony Player. When the disc initialized it INSTALLED the link to The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer as a CHANNEL on my player! Hours of searching the internet later, I found that there is NO WAY for me to remove this channel! So, three years from now, I’ll still have that stupid Spider Man icon there telling me to go see the movie…
    I found out later that there IS a menu setting on Blu ray players to not allow a disc to access the internet connection. Too late for me, save yourselves!!

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