Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventures in Blu-ray part two

In part one, I told the tale of how I thought my Sony Blu-ray player was sub-par and maybe there was a better player out there that would solve a couple of play-ability issues I had. Long story short - A new player ended up being even worse.

So now we have a lingering issue. I have a rather extensive DVD and Blu-ray movie collection. So far, I have very few if any play-ability issues with this collection - a much better situation than with my previous (older and cheaper) Sony Blu-ray player. But I do have one problem. With one very specific movie.

The movie in question is Disney's The Muppets, on Blu-ray. I bought it and watched it - once. Then, my grand-daughter got bored (she's not even 4 - her attention span is very short) and I turned the movie off mid-movie. Ejected the disc and put it away. That was the last time I have been able to watch The Muppets on my Blu-ray player.

Once Olivia resumed interest in the movie (same day), I turned the player back on and re-loaded the disc. I got through the Disney splash screen, the Disney animated splash screen, then the screen announcing that you could skip the previews by pressing the Top Menu button. And that's as far as I get. The next thing I see is black screen. Forever. Pressing a button doesn't help - I've tried them all. A button press either does nothing, or produces the annoying and totally useless 'This operation is currently prohibited for this disc' message. That's it. I tried everything. Disabling BD-Live, disabling the screen saver, disconnecting from the internet, checking for firmware updates. Nothing works. I can no longer play this movie.

I returned the movie to Amazon, thinking maybe, just maybe the disc is defective. I doubt it, because the movie plays fine on a Samsung Blu-ray player. But, I'm trying to cover all the bases. I get a replacement disc from Amazon and it has the exact same problem in the exact same spot. The movie is un-watchable.

I called Sony. Waste of time. They asked me to do all the things I had already tried and of course nothing works. They did offer up one thing to try that raised an eyebrow - they wanted me to try playing the movie with a USB thumb drive connected to the player's USB port. They claim that some movies may not play correctly if there is no flash drive in the USB port. I was ready to call bullshit on that - I've never had to put a USB drive to watch any movie - ever. But hey, I'm willing to try anything. It doesn't make any difference at all. Sony have no other suggestions except to blame the disc. It's not the freaking disc.

It's the DRM (Digital Rights Management). I guaran-fracking-tee it. If it wasn't for HDCP and AACS and BD+ and BD-ROM Mark and CSS and Macrovision and... and... and... these discs would probably work just fine. What I find humourous if not outright disgusting about this movie situation, is that had I downloaded a pirate copy of The Muppets and played it from an external hard drive:
  • I wouldn't be having any play-ability issues;
  • I'd be able to skip through (or outright delete) all the previews if they weren't deleted already;
  • All the User Operation Prohibitions would be gone;
  • I'd be able to make a backup copy of the movie;
  • I'd be able to convert the movie to a version playable on my iPad or iPhone.


Anonymous said...

This exact same thing has just happened to me. (Started watching the Muppets last night, turned it off mid-movie, now get a black screen after a "countdown" after the logo screen.) Found your post after googling for a solution. Using a panasonic dmp-bd75 in Toronto. Now I'll never know if they put on their show successfully!

Karl Plesz said...

Make sure you write to Sony and complain. And feel free to reference this blog post to show them that it's not just you...

Karl Plesz said...

Or Disney. It may be a Disney problem too...

Ilanzo said...

The same is happening to me. I have the latest firmware on my Sony BDP-s350 AND I recieved a replacement BD from Disney. Problem still exsists!

Karl Plesz said...

It's very frustrating. Luckily, I have the problem with only one movie. If this was a regular problem, I would officially and quite publicly become a movie pirate.

Anonymous said...

I'm having the same problem with The Muppets also. Has anyone found a fix yet or heard anything from Disney or Sony? It worked when i first bought it and watched it, but not i put it in and i get the same problems. It's definitely a Sony problem!