Thanks to RG reader Jeff Carter for knocking some sense into me and reminding me that these newfangled next-gen DVD players need periodic firmware updates.
Turns out that our player was running firmware version 1.1 and Toshiba had already updated all the way to version 2.0. I couldn't get the HD-DVD player to communicate with the server no matter how many different times I tried going online with it, but fortunately Toshiba had very detailed directions for making your own update disc. So, one 38-meg download, a quick burn of a CD-R, and then voila! The system was updated to version 2.0 and our Netflix copy of Syriana on HD-DVD played all the way through without a single hiccup.
The disc itself did look a bit cleaner than the previous discs we got from Netflix, but I'm sure the firmware update deserves more than a small bit of the credit for our uninterrupted movie-viewing experience.
But this raises an important question: are the majority of consumers ready for products that require frequent updates? It's one thing to upgrade computers and videogame consoles which are essentially designed for online use, but I don't think most people are going to anticipate having to update such benign equipment as DVD players. What's next, televisions? Refrigerators? Microwave ovens?
For all these years that we've had DirecTV, I've never once hooked the receiver up to a phone line, regardless of how many times DirecTV has asked us to do so. It just never seemed necessary. I know the true winner of the next-gen formats isn't going to be HD-DVD nor Blu-Ray, but rather downloadable content and I suspect at that point we'll all be used to everything being connected, but until then, I wonder? I have a hard time believing that most people are ready to not only make sure their computers are online with broadband, but that their movie players are too.
I'm pretty into the technogear and even I think the whole idea is a little odd.