The 40-Year-Old HD Advisor

Posted Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:00 PM PST by

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Answers by Joshua Zyber

How to Make a Blu-ray Player Wireless?

Q: I just purchased a Philips BDP7310 Blu-ray player. I was wondering if there's a device that would make it wireless?

A: I assume that you mean wireless for the BD-Live network connection? I'm fortunate that my entertainment cabinet is near enough to my computer desk that I can plug my Blu-ray players into my router with standard Ethernet cables. However, I realize that this isn't the case for everyone. Many people don't keep computer equipment in their home theater rooms. Connecting to BD-Live is certainly more of a hassle if your player is nowhere near a router.

What you need is a wireless bridge that will connect your player to your network without the cable. A variety of manufacturers sell these for a variety of price points. I don't have one myself, so I'll let our other readers make recommendations in the forum thread linked at the bottom of this article.

Component Video Outputs on Blu-ray Players Revisited

Q: I have read owner's manuals and had discussions with several support teams of Blu-ray manufacturers. I have found only one, the OPPO BDP-83, that will output 1080i or 720p over Component Video. All others I have talked to limit output to 480p. As I understand it, this is because of licensing and the quality of the DACs used. Perhaps that is why Blu-ray has come along slower since many early adapters do not have HDMI on their HDTVs . Your comments on 11/27 appear to be in conflict with the research and input I have had from different tech support groups. Could you please set the record straight?

A: I think that the people you've spoken to were confused about what you were actually asking. All Blu-ray players (or at least, those that actually have Component Video outputs) are capable of transmitting up to 1080i resolution video from Blu-ray content over a Component connection. It is only DVD content that is limited to 480p over Component. Further, it's only DVD content authored with a copy protection flag that's restricted. (Most major studio DVDs are copy protected, but some indie labels are not.)

The DVD problem is a direct result of an absurd mandate imposed by the DVD Forum that prohibits DVD upconversion over an analog connection if the disc is copy protected. You can transmit the DVD video at either 480i or 480p and have it be upconverted externally (in either the HD display or a video processor). Or you can upconvert in the player and transmit it over HDMI with no problem. But the DVD or Blu-ray player is limited to 480p over Component.

There is absolutely no logical reason for this. Who would want to pirate an upconverted DVD signal, when they can just copy the video at its native resolution, which requires less processing power and less storage space, and will be upconverted automatically when played on any HDTV anyway? This is just one of those stupid bureaucratic decisions that someone thought was really important, even though it makes no sense at all.

However, at this time, that limitation does not exist on the Blu-ray format, which is controlled by a different operating consortium: the Blu-ray Disc Association. The BDA knew that the lack of HDMI inputs on many early HDTVs would be a stumbling block to their format's adoption. As such, even though they were just as paranoid about piracy as the DVD Forum, they made a concession to allow Blu-ray video to be transmitted over Component so long as the disc doesn't contain a flag called the Image Constraint Token.

The ICT flag will indeed restrict Blu-ray video to a maximum of 480p resolution over Component. Fortunately, to date, there have been no Blu-ray discs authored with ICT. The plan from the start was to allow a grace period of several years before any studios would implement the ICT. In fear of consumer backlash, no movie studio has ever set a date for when they might start using ICT. Some speculation puts it at 2012 at the earliest. Others claim 2020. And it's entirely possible that it may never be used.

So, yes, in the irony of ironies, you can still get true High-Definition over Component video, but you can't get upconverted standard-def that way. If your current HDTV lacks an HDMI input, any Blu-ray player with Component outputs (and most have them) will give you 1080i resolution from Blu-ray discs. By the time the studios start using ICT (if ever), you'll probably have upgraded to a newer set anyway. Even if not, there will still be thousands of existing ICT-free discs you can watch.

Will the Screen-Filling Madness Never End?

Q: Not having the hugest HDTV in the world, I always appreciate the greater effect of films which fill the 16:9 frame. Would it really be so bad if studios offered 16:9 cropped or P/S options for wide scope movies? I'd use the zoom feature of my 34" CRT Sony, but overscan issues ruin it.

A: Yes, it would be really, really bad. Read my Why Don't the Black Bars Go Away? article.

Homework Assignment: You Be the Advisor

The HD Advisor knows many things, but he doesn't know everything. Some questions are best answered with a consensus of opinions from our readers. If you can help to answer the following question, please post your response in our forum thread linked at the end of this article. Your advice and opinions matter too!

BD-Live on Laptops

Q: Does BD-Live work on laptops? I have an HP laptop with a Blu-ray disc drive hooked up to my home network. I could not get BD-Live to work on the new 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' Blu-ray.

The HD Advisor will be off next week. But don't fret. He'll be back soon with another round of answers. Happy holidays, everyone!

Joshua Zyber's opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this site, its owners or employees.

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