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Bugs - what is being done?

OK, so once again the DVD market is being threatened by problems playing back discs on certain players. We had exactly the same problem a year ago when The Matrix hit the shelves - then it turned out to be a combination of the players and discs, neither of which was entirely to blame. The easiest solution then seemed to be to get the affected players upgraded - and many people did just that...

Over the last twelve months we've seen more and more reports of minor problems with certain aspects of some discs. Just taking a look at our Bug Reports section reveals the extent to which some player/disc combinations just haven't been working. Until the last few weeks however, not a lot was really made of the whole issue - that was until this years biggest release, Gladiator, appeared on the shelves and people started having problems with the bonus disc. There were and still are a lot of unhappy people who are unable to make full use of the disc.

Now, this week we discover that Disney has released both Toy Story: The Ultimate Toybox and the Fantasia Boxset with little or no testing - the number of players that the third disc in both sets has problems with is now into double figures, and they're not all based on the same chipset or technology. Even worse, the players affected happen to be some of the most popular currently on the market and therefore a huge number of potential customers are going to find out they can't play the disc they paid Disney's excessive prices for.

Surely the big studios should be able to test the disc on the most popular DVD players before they send them out to the shops? It can't be a lot to ask can it? OK, so it may sound like I'm picking on the mouse unfairly here but the fact is that the current list of players we know are having problems is growing daily and it really does appear that there is no quality control process for checking the discs out before release.

It's not neccesarily the disc manufacturers that are at fault though - we have regularly seen the same players popping up in our bug reports section so this also must suggest that something is going wrong here as well. Surely if there is a 'DVD Standard' then every player should be able to play every disc which fits into that standard - otherwise the term 'standard' is a misnomer is it not?

I also find it odd that the manufacturers haven't taken steps to avoid problems such as this. The easy solution would be to produce ONE disc that really pushes the boundaries of the format - seamless branching, multiple angles, every soundtrack under the sun, 'white rabbit' type features, huge menus - the list goes on. This disc could then be used to test players before they go on sale, and if it can play this disc without problems the player would not be held to blame if future releases started to fail. It's a simple solution and one I cannot believe has not been considered in the past.

This Christmas is the 'BIG' one for DVD - we could end up with a lot of unhappy teenagers on Christmas Day when they discover they can't watch the Toy Story extras on their shiny new DVD player. It's probably too late to avoid this now, but if steps are not taken very quickly indeed consumer confidence in the DVD format could disipate just as quickly as it has risen. The fact is that consumer electronics products cannot afford to have bugs - while the PC user may accept them, Joe Public certainly will not and we could end up back at square one. The Region 2 DVD market isn't that big just yet...

Andy over at The Region 2 Project has posted something along these lines this morning, and he is currently looking to see if a 'test disc' is a possibility. Between us, we're after as much feedback as possible on this - pop across and read his post as it goes into more detail on the whole 'test disc' issue, then let us know what you think by commenting on this news item.

Colin Polonowski

Last updated: 19/04/2018 19:36:21

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