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.