Avatar Extended Collectors Edition plays on LG BD550

In December last year I bought an LG BD550 BluRay player at considerable discount (special offer for the new opening of a nearby electronics store) for the sole purpose of watching the only BluRay movie in my collection, “Avatar”, the original cinematic release (BD+DVD double pack).

The BD550 has a pleasing design, a good looking screen interface, sports a USB port that can read not only memory sticks but also USB hard drives, and it supports a long, long list of image, audio and video formats usually only found on rather more expensive models, including the MKV video format which I have so far seen on no other players. It’s not the fastest operated player, but it works fairly well for its price tag. Despite various rumours that the “Avatar” disc presented problems with playback on older and budget players, it worked like a charm.

Then for Christmas I got the “Avatar Extended Collectors Edition” (3xBD+3xDVD double pack), and to my disappointment it refused to run on my player. Discs two and three with hours upon hours of extra material played fine, just not the one with the actual movie. Attempts at upgrading the LG BD550’s firmware only resulted in it no longer recognizing burned DVD and CD discs as readable media, it even refused to play a number of original DVD movies, and although it would still read USB memory sticks it would no longer play the various file formats which was one of the accompanying major reasons to pick this particular player. I went through hours on the phone with LG support, getting nowhere further.

Then last Sunday I decided to give it another go before calling the LG complaints department to demand a new player. The opening screen greeted me with “Software update”, and unlike previous attempts at upgrading over the net this time it went smooth. Five minutes of download, one minute of installing, and then a quick reboot. Testing. It played a burned CD. It played a burned DVD. It played the original DVD movies that it had refused to before. It even played “Avatar Extended Collectors Edition”!

Admittedly it doesn’t work very fast. The disc takes a while to load, and it will either tell you that it needs a memory stick if you haven’t inserted one, or it will flash the 20th Century Fox logo at you during loading for about a minute if you have. The entire start-up of the feature disc from the moment you close the tray to the main menu pops up will take close to three minutes. Then there is considerable waiting time (about 30 seconds) from selecting play in the main menu, before the movie starts playing. This will be frustrating to those who are used to a quick response DVD player, but as long as you know about it, it’s time well spent getting the popcorn and drinks ready.

The newest firmware version is BD5.012.00 and applies to models BD550, BD555 and BD530. If your player doesn’t have an Internet connection, or it fails to download automatically, the update is also available for download along with instructions through LG’s website, http://www.lg.com, and should install by USB memory stick.

2 Responses to Avatar Extended Collectors Edition plays on LG BD550

  1. Paul Toseland says:

    Hey there
    Can you let me know if you’ve had any other issues with this player?

    I’ve currently the Toshiba BDX1100 and i’ve had countless problems. Not just with “Avatar” but also “Aliens Antology” and “Predators”. During playback of all 3 films, at regular intervals the time bar and chapter thumbnail keeps appearing, despite the fact i’ve only had the player just 2 weeks and the firmware is up to date. Toshiba advised they’ve reported the problems to their engineers, but as they’re in Tokyo they don’t know when a new firmware will be issued.

    I noticed that LG seem to issue firmware updates on a more regular basis.

    Would like to hear from you and whether you would recommend i return Toshiba and change to LG

  2. inshadowz says:

    Hi Paul. First up, this LG model is my very first BD player, and my main reason for buying this specific model was that it was the cheapest one available. Second, far as I can see, the Avatar playback problem has been the only actual issue so far. Mind you I only own five BD movies to date (“Avatar”, “Avatar Collectors Extended Edition”, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Inception”, plus “The Fast And The Furious – Tokyo Drift”, which I haven’t even seen yet). The bonus points for the BD550 is the number of file formats it can handle (I’ve played Matroska (MKV) files without a hitch, which is rare), and that it supports both USB memory sticks and USB hard disks. If speed of operation is a crucial point, you’ll want something with more muscle rather than save money.

    I’d had the BD550 for two months before the firmware update finally came along. No idea if a future update for your Toshiba is going to be as long in the making, or whether it fixes the problems you have, nor how the BD550 would measure up to it. All I can say is that so far the LG works well, if you don’t mind a bit of waiting now and then when loading discs or flipping through menus. It also crashes on occasion, requiring a power cycle to unfreeze, but that happens a lot less frequently now after the update. As far as value for money goes, I think I got a good bit more than I paid for, especially since I was simply looking for something with a “Play” button.

    So should you switch players? I really can’t say one way or the other. I’d suggest checking out user forums and see what other owners of the same model say about it, and whether they’ve found any working solutions for the problems.

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