Some old Samsung Blu-ray players can't handle Avatar

Avatar may be setting Blu-ray disc sales records, but not everyone who bought the disc is able to watch it.

CrunchGear's John Biggs wrote about some issues he's having with Samsung's BD-UP5000, a combination Blu-ray and HD-DVD player that was released before the end of the format wars. For Biggs, the movie would not play at all, instead showing a red screen that prompts for a firmware update. Biggs pointed to a thread on the AVS Forum where users are reporting the same problem.

I've also found some complaints with other Samsung players on CNet's forums. Red message screens are being reported with Samsung's C6500 and C5500.  One HT-BD2E owner' said his copy works okay, except the chapter stop marker appears sporadically on the screen every couple minutes. Also on the CNet forums, one Sharp BD-HP22U owner claimed to have some bizarre chapter marker pop-up glitches.

The best theory I've seen was floated on the NetworkedMediaTank forums, where one person's Popcorn Hour C-200 media player, equipped with a Samsung SH-B083L Blu-ray player, gave a firmware update message when trying to play Avatar. Another user suggested that the issues stem from a new kind of encryption called BD+5. Back at the CNet forums, a new encryption method is also mentioned, but not by that specific name.

I haven't seen BD+5 mentioned anywhere else, but it would explain why Blu-ray players whose firmware hasn't been updated in several years would be unable to play new movies.

Judging from some customer support calls that users are reporting, firmware updates are on the way and it's just a matter of waiting patiently. But if I were in these customers' situations, I'd be livid. There's no excuse for releasing new encryption methods without firmware support on all Blu-ray players, especially when the manufacturers are on the Blu-ray Disc Association's board of directors. Not to mention that Blu-ray players shouldn't need firmware updates to watch movies, just to stop a few pirates.

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