What Is Firmware?
What Is It?
Firmware is software that exists usually on chip or flash memory within a larger piece of hardware, such as a Blu-ray player. Firmware can be upgraded to fix a technical problem with the player or to meet new industry standards. For instance, the PlayStation 3 was initially a Profile 1.0 Blu-ray disc player, but now through downloadable firmware updates, the PS3 is a Profile 2.0 player that takes advantage of BD-Live and other advanced features not available in earlier specifications. Firmware updates can be applied either by downloading them directly to your device, or by disc installation.
Having trouble with your high-def disc player? Will certain movies just not play? Before you return the player to the store, you might want to check its firmware.
Rest assured, if your player works fine, you can safely choose not to update its firmware–unless specified by the manufacturer, such updates do not usually add bells and whistles to your player. However, once problems start popping up (significant delays in playing titles, some not playing at all), a firmware update will often do the trick. The process is meant to be simple and do-it-yourself.
There are several ways to get updated firmware depending on your player manufacturer and model number:
If your high-def disc player has an Ethernet port, connecting it directly to the Internet is the most streamlined way to check for and install updates—though this requires that you connect an Ethernet cable from your Internet connection to your high-def movie player, which may prove difficult depending on your setup. Since every player is different, refer to your owners’ manual for instructions on how to connect your player to the internet and how to update the firmware. With some players, you may have to power cycle the player after changing network settings before you can download firmware.
Some manufacturers supply a postcard with their players, allowing you to sign up to receive new firmware update discs by mail. Others provide them when you call their customer service centers to request one. The upside about getting firmware updates this way is that it requires the least amount of technical work on your part; simply put the manufacturer’s disc in your player, and it should automate the process. The downside is the delay in waiting for the disc in the mail.
Most manufacturers do a good job of putting firmware updates on their web site in a timely manner. In order to load this firmware into your player, you will need to download it and burn it to a disc. Make sure you follow the burning and installation instructions exactly, as there are very specific steps that have to be done. The upside of getting firmware this way is you don’t have to wait for a disc to arrive in the mail; the downside is you need to make the disc yourself, which can prove difficult if you do not have experience with burning discs on your computer.