There is no question that Sony’s Blu-ray high definition DVD won the format wars. But at the time when Toshiba decided to drop out of the fight and killed its HD DVD format, Blu-ray features were still in their infancy and did not add very much in the way of features beyond simple higher definition. The Blu-ray standard has evolved since then and both discs and players have added new features.
Thus far there have been three generations of Blu-ray players. A Profile defines the feature set or generation of the player, with 1.0 being the first generation player. There is also a 1.1 Profile and a 2.0 Profile.
The first generation of Blu-ray players didn’t really have very much in the way of features. You can play Blu-ray discs, and you can usually update the player’s firmware (the internal program that runs the player) via software downloaded to a USB drive, which in turn is used to update the player, but that is about it. Being able to update the player’s firmware is a critical feature because Blu-ray discs continue to evolve, which requires periodic updates to the player so that the discs are compatible with the player. All Blu-ray players should have some method to update the internal firmware.
Officially, Profile 1.0 players were not supposed to be manufactured after November of 2007, but you may still find some older Profile 1.0 players in retailer’s inventory. The best advice that we can offer is to NOT purchase a Profile 1.0 player, even if you see one offered for a killer price. You will have fewer compatibility problems with Profile 1.1 and 2.0 players.
Profile 1.0 was pretty much a temporary standard so that manufacturers could get Blu-ray players into the market. Profile 1.1 is the first finalized standard for Blu-ray. The only feature added is called Bonus View, which allows you to play a second video in a smaller window while the main video is playing. All-in-all, Bonus View is a lame addition, but Profile 1.1 players are much more stable with less compatibility issues than Profile 1.0 players.
Check out the method used to update the firmware with profile 1.1 Blu-ray players. Some require updates via software downloaded to a USB drive. Some players offer updates via an Ethernet or WiFi connection to the Internet. An Internet connection is not required with the 1.1 standard, but it does make firmware updates easier to do.
This Profile was a fairly big update to Blu-ray features. The largest portion of the update is the addition of the BD Live features, which allows a viewer to download interactive content and additional movie features. BD Live features are built into some newer Blu-ray discs. The 2.0 profile just allows you to use the features.
Profile 2.0 also requires that the player have a high speed Internet connection, which is most commonly an RJ-45 Ethernet connection. You do not need to connect to the Internet to use a Profile 2.0 player, but you do need to connect to do firmware updates or use the BD Live features found on some newer Blu-ray discs. We have not yet used BD Live, but it appears to be a “bells-and-whistles” type of feature that most people will ignore.
Profile 2.0 features are an optional standard. In other words, newer players do not have to use the Profile 2.0 standard. All new players manufactured today must use Profile 1.1 standards at a minimum, but they do not have to include 2.0 features. if you want a Profile 2.0 player, look for the BD Live feature. That designates the player as a Profile 2.0.
How do I determine which profile my Blu-ray player uses?
It is amazing that so many online stores provide a list of specification for a player, but do not list the Profile that the player uses. The same can be said about the specification on the boxes of many players. Most Blu-ray player boxes fail to list the Profile standard used with the player. The best advice that we can offer is to search the web. In particular, check out the product specifications on the manufacturer’s web site. Remember that when the feature list includes BD Live, it is a Profile 2.0 player.
Do I need to upgrade my player if it is a Profile 1.0?
No, not unless you are having problems with getting the player to work with newer Blu-ray movies. The Sharp BD-HP20U is a profile 1.0 player that we purchased for a good price in February of 2008. It worked great up until about July of 2008 when newer generations of Blu-ray movies started to appear. We were able to keep it running until very recently, when we were forced to upgrade to a newer Profile player because it appears that Sharp updates could not keep up with the rapid evolution of Blu-ray disc features.
If you are not having problems with a Profile 1.0 player and you do not need the new features found on newer Blu-ray discs, then there isn’t any reason to upgrade. The video quality will be the same as players using the current Profile.