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In Search of BD Live

19 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Martin Luther King Jr. Day apparently was a busy time for Best Buy.

I was looking for information regarding taking my Blu-ray player to “the next level,” or BD Live, as it was referred to by the No. 1 consumer electronics retailer on page 11 of its weekly (Jan. 18) newspaper circular.

BD Live allows users to update an enabled BD movie with interactive features, bonus materials, e-commerce and related news from the Internet. Studios and the CE industry consider it the next phase in Blu-ray marketing and adoption.

The circular featured both Best Buy’s proprietary Insignia brand BD player for $229 and the LG BD300 player for $299 (after a $50 rebate). It also showcased BD Live-enabled movie Tropic Thunder from Paramount/DreamWorks for $22.99 (after a $7 discount).

Completing the ad was a SanDisk 8GB USB 2.0 flash drive ($19.99) to expand the external memory capacity of the BD player, the Netgear AV Ethernet adapter kit ($129.99) for wireless Web connectivity, and two Monster HDMI cables from $129.99 each.

Specifically, I was curious whether Best Buy’s proprietary Insignia brand BD player, advertised for $229, included Ethernet connectivity, a prerequisite for BD Live functionality.

Of the four Best Buy store locations listed online in on my area code, just one (store 1472) answered the phone — and promptly put me on hold.

Stores 119, 774 and 947 never answered, although a representative from The Geek Squad from 947 politely transferred me to the home theater/video department, whose phone just rang and rang.

After about five minutes, Chino from 1472 interrupted my doodling, apologized, told me he would be right back and put me back on hold.

By this time I had searched Best Buy’s BD player specifications on the site and seemed fairly certain the $229 Insignia model was not Web-enabled. It’s not.

The impulse to hang up again was interrupted by the ever-charming Chino, who apologized a second time for the delay and said he would attempt to answer my questions.

My concern about the Insignia model was quickly confirmed, and Chino assured me the LG model was Web-enabled, as were other more-expensive Insignia models.

Although no explanation was given why a non-BD Live capable BD player was displayed in a BD Live ad, Chino said the separate Ethernet adapter allowed Web-enabled BD players to connect to the Internet and even get Netflix movies.

In the end Chino resurrected my faith in Best Buy’s vaunted customer service (despite the 20 minutes of phone time) and assured me that my Web-enabled Panasonic BD35K player purchased in December at Costco for $199 was indeed a “best buy.”

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