Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting the Tardis Working for the Geeklet


cc photo credit Tardis by AntToeKnee Lacey on flickr

I guess I’m doing something right as a dad.

Alvis has been hard-at-work babysitting and pinching her pennies.

So the other day when we are at the local GoodPurchase box store collecting some electronica-accessories, she disappeared momentarily, reappearing with DVD and Blu-Ray season six box sets of BBC Dr. Who. “Which one?”  (Alvis is an unabashed Dr. Who (Matt Smith incarnation only thank you very much) Super Fan™).

We settled on the Blu-ray, but only after I gave my acknowledgment that when Alvis strikes out on her own in life, they are going with her. This was going to be super-awesome considering we had been watching the series on regular-def BBC America. Oh the details we would now see!

When we got home she first emptied the DVR of all the still-saved local versions from the BBC run quite a while ago. Then she popped a disk in.

The intros ran splendidly, then we got to the first episode. The Blu-ray quality was extraordinary; super-crisp and detailed. Only when the camera angle would pan, the play-back stuttered horribly.

Retried the disk…same thing. Different episode…same result.

Oh bother.

Feeling a bit of panic as I had advised her of the superior Blu-Ray benefit and running in my head the success/failure possibilities for a Blu-ray return at GoodPurchase box store, I tried to digest the best plan of attack.

We tried another disk from the set. Nope. Same problem.rro5eblj.ao1

I next tried waving my Alvis-provided Sonic Screwdriver at the Blu-ray player. That always seems to work for the Doctor.

Alas. Didn’t help this time.

Probably needs to be recharged.

First things second.

Based on previous experiences with our BDP-S360 Blu-ray™ Disc Player from Sony, it seemed the best place to start out was a check on the firmware level for the player.  I strung out our 50’ Cat-6 patch cord down the hall from the router and connected it to the player and checked on-line for firmware updates using the embedded system feature. Sure enough, there was Blu-ray Disc™ Player Firmware Upgrade (version 011).

The update applied successfully. Rebooted the player and re-launched the Blu-ray.

Nope. Same issues. Drat.

I hit the Googles and checked out the customer reviews on the product page for the set. Indeed there were a number of complaints that some users were experiencing playback stuttering with their disks. Maybe it was indeed a bad-press.

Alvis was getting quite dejected now. Not only was her hard-earned investment looking less enjoyable, so was the planned Dr. Who marathon session planned.

Poking around the Amazon page some more led me to a discussion thread. Customer Discussions: HELP! Framerate problems!

Hmm. That sounded like exactly what we were experiencing. The choppy playback quality is like when you were trying to watch an on-line video and you have streaming/buffering problems. I couldn’t imagine the player didn’t have the hardware capability to process the BBC Blu-ray disk…we haven’t had any quality playback issues with other disks in our collection.

The tips offered mentioned things like deinterlace and motion interpolation issues with British programing transfers for US playback; both apparently related to frame rate processing. Apparently different Blu-ray systems have different feature names for this.

I pulled down the Sony BDP-S360 user’s manual from the website and checked the PDF closely. Nothing seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for.

In the end we decided to try changing the following setting:

  • “HDMI Resolution/Component Resolution” got changed from “Auto” to 1080i.

Retried again.


Perfectly smooth and natural video playback from the BBC Blu-ray disk set.

So if you run into this problem as well, you may want to check some of your player settings first. That whole deinterlace/motion-interpolation/framerate thing with BBC disks has some truth in it.

Normally our player is set to “Auto” and runs at the 1080p mode-rate. Dropping it down to the 1080i was all we needed to get the playback running normally again.

Your player settings may vary so dig out your manual and start experimenting.

You may be glad you did!


--Claus V.

1 comment:

FF Extension Guru said...

I've only had Blu-Ray player for about 2-months now (Sony BDP-185) and have yet to connect it to the Internet. May be it is because it is sometime I have a hard time wrapping my head around, connecting a DVD player to the Internet. Of course if I do that, I too will need to get one of those long CAT-5 cables or wait until I get to my new place where I will have a TV in my office (my router will be in there) that I can connect the player into. But none the less, I will keep this in mind if I or my folks )they have the same player and TV as I do) run into this issue.