In an attempt to standardize BD-Java playback on Blu-ray hardware, the Blu-ray Disc Association has announced a deadline of October 31, 2007 for mandatory BD-J audio/video support in all new players released after that date.
The Blu-ray Disc Association has specified that all hardware sporting the official Blu-ray logo that hits the market after the Halloween holiday must be able to play back picture-in-picture video via BD-Java. The mandate also decrees that all Blu-ray players must hold a minimum 256MB of persistent memory storage, which will help power the picture-in-picture feature. Finally, any Blu-ray player that features an Internet connection is required to have 1GB of such memory, in order to hold whatever content users decide to download from the Web.
Currently, most Blu-ray players on the market can handle some form of BD-J interactivity on software titles, but not true video picture-in-picture playback. Sony's complete Blu-ray player line (including the PlayStation 3), plus decks from Philips, Pioneer and LG Electronics, have so far been unable to support the PIP function.
"There was a grace period between the launch of the first generation Blu-ray launch and October," Andy Parsons, senior VP of advanced product development at Pioneer Electronics, told Video Business. "After October, [manufacturers] must conform to the full range of specifications."
For format-war watchers, it's a move that has come none too soon. Unlike rival HD DVD's interactive development platform, Blu-ray did not mandate BD-Java support from day one, leaving Blu-ray titles to lag considerably behind HD DVD in terms of cutting-edge features.
So far, no studio has released a true picture-in-picture Blu-ray title. Lionsgate offered a creative solution to the problem for both 'The Descent' and 'Crank,' by placing two versions of the film on a 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc to replicate the appearance of picture-in-picture technology.
Many studios have also held back on Blu-ray versions of popular HD DVD titles that use picture-in-picture, such as Warner's 'Batman Begins,' ':Poseidon' and the two upcoming 'Matrix' box set collections. All are currently HD DVD exclusives, with Blu-ray street dates still undetermined in light of BD-J development issues.
But now, with the Blu-ray Disc Association's mandate, the road seems finally clear for full BD-Java-enhanced Blu-ray titles to hit the market. Combined with Digital Leisure's announcement earlier today of the first true BD-J picture-in-picture release, the arcade sensation 'Dragon's Lair,' to hit stores on April 9, we're certainly optimistic that there will be no more hiccups or delays in making full BD-Java support a reality.
Stay tuned for more on this story as it develops...