Blu-ray Disc Faults Popping Up

The Blu-ray format has suffered a few surprising glitches at both manufacturing and publicity levels this week after having a generally strong year.

Most notable is that three separate major releases in the past two weeks from dual-format studio Warner Bros. Pictures have seen big enough problems that replacement discs are already being churned out by the bucketload.

First up, the Five-Disc “Harry Potter” Giftset has seen a big problem – namely that HD DVD copies of the fourth film in the series, ‘Goblet of Fire’, have made their way into the Blu-ray versions of the disc sets.

Soon after it was discovered that some copies of the Blu-ray versions of the much-promoted “Blade Runner” five-disc sets contained not the ‘never before seen workprint’ as labelled on the back of the set, but rather a mislabeled duplicate of the first disc containing the film’s final cut.

Finally, the recently released Blu-ray edition of “Terminator 3” (the HD-DVD version came out last year) has a manufacturing glitch which means that regular playback of the disc is being limited to 1080i output.

The title was the first Warner Blu-ray title to include an ‘In Movie Experience’ – a technology that’s been available on HD-DVD from its launch which is why Warners has been holding off on publishing several titles (eg. Batman Begins, The Matrix) in Blu-ray that they have had out on HD-DVD for months.

In all cases, Warner has set up a dedicated phone line to deal with the issue, and has apparently begun sending out replacement discs. Affected consumers wishing to participate in this exchange program should call 1-800-553-6937.

If that wasn’t enough, its now been revealed that select scenes on the “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” Blu-ray disc have suffered from framing problems that wreaked havoc with the film’s intended compositions (ie. heads fully visible in the regular DVD version are being cut off in the Blu-ray version). For those seeking a replacement disc, call Disney’s customer service line at 1-800-723-4763, and have your name, address, phone number and UPC number ready.

Capping off the bad week the official Blu-ray Disc Association site was apparently hacked on Friday afternoon, redirecting visitors to the official HD DVD site. No one so far has claimed responsibility for the apparent hack.

In good news for the format though, Sony launched Firmware Update v2.10 for the Playstation 3 this week, officially upgrading the game console to a Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player which will enable it to play back discs encoded with “true” picture-in-picture functionality.

In other good news in the high-def format war front, the Samsung BD-UP5000

– the first true combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray player (the earlier LG had limited HD capability) that can play both formats has gone on sale for $799 in various online stores including Amazon and Circuit City.