A look at BD-Live
By Marc Saltzman
Q: I’m interested in buying a Blu-ray Disc
player and would like to know more about
the BD-Live feature. Can you help?
■ 7. 1 surround sound
■ DTV conversion
A: Available in many new Blu-ray Disc players and
the Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, BD-Live
is an exciting new feature that adds Internet connectivity to a Blu-ray player.
When you buy or rent a movie on Blu-ray with
BD-Live content—and many new ones have it—
BD-Live lets you access additional content from
cyberspace, such as online trivia games, high-definition trailers for movies in theaters or downloadable
extras such as bonus commentary.
BD-Live-enabled Blu-ray Disc players also let
you download firmware updates if any become
available, such as adding new features to the player
or fixing any minor issues.
If your Blu-ray machine is BD-Live ready, you
simply need to connect it to your high-speed modem
or router by plugging in an Ethernet cable (usually
not included). You can also connect it wirelessly via
Wi-Fi if you have the right equipment.
support for two additional speakers at the rear
of the room. Some people place these speakers between the existing rear ones, while
others move the existing rear speakers to
Not all Blu-ray Disc films offer 7. 1
surround sound, but labels on the back
of the packaging offer that information.
Plus, keep in mind that your AV receiver
must support 7. 1 channels to distribute these audio tracks.
If you don’t have an AV receiver
that supports 7. 1 or the required
number of speakers, no worry. Simply
select the 5. 1 audio options, which
will also be on the disc. Whether you
go with a 5. 1 or 7. 1 surround sound
system, you’ll experience the true excitement of home theater.
Q: We purchased a new HDTV over the holidays and now are adding an audio system.
Can you explain 7. 1 surround sound?
A: Rather than listening to a movie through just
two channels—left and right stereo from your TV’s
built-in speakers—home theater enthusiasts prefer
surround sound, available on most DVD movies
today. In surround sound, a different audio track is
coming out of each of the speakers spread throughout the TV room.
Just like the audio setup at your local movie
theater, this enveloping audio helps put you “in” the
film. What’s required is an audio-video (AV)
receiver and the speakers themselves (sometimes
purchased as a “home theater in a box” package).
DVDs helped to popularize 5. 1 surround
sound, which breaks down the audio channels:
• The center channel, where an estimated 80
percent of a movie’s dialogue comes from, sits
under or just above the TV.
• One left and one right front speaker is on each
side of the television, facing the viewer.
• One rear left and one rear right speaker is at
the back of the room, just behind (or to the side)
of the viewer.
• The “. 1” refers to the subwoofer that sits on
the floor and delivers that low-frequency bass.
With Blu-ray Discs, many films are recorded or
remastered in up to 7. 1 surround sound, which adds
A reminder about DTV conversion
As I write this, suggestions are being made to
delay the February 17 change from analog television
transmission to digital-only broadcasts. One way or
the other, the transition will still take place.
This means if you have an older analog TV and
rely on over-the-air reception (such as a rooftop
antenna or old-fashioned rabbit ears), you must
purchase a digital television set (all new televisions
have a digital tuner) or a converter box to convert
the new digital signals to analog. You may need to
upgrade your antenna as well.
If a converter box is required, all U.S. households are eligible for up to two coupons worth $40
each to be used toward the purchase of up to two
digital-to-analog converter boxes. You can find
more details at 1-888-225-5322 or on the Web at
www.dtv.gov (click on “Coupon Program”).
If you’re unsure whether your TV (or monitor)
is digital, look at the back for labels with the words
“BUILT-IN DIGITAL TUNER” or “DTV” or something
to that effect. Older “HD-ready” monitors need a
digital tuner. If you own a new HDTV, then it’s digital. If your TV has an integrated ATSC tuner, you
can still receive free over-the-air digital programming—even after the analog cutoff date. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
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The Costco Connection
Blu-ray Disc players with BD-Live and a variety of
Blu-ray Discs are available in the warehouses and
online at Costco.com. Home theater systems and
separate audio-video receivers with 5. 1 and 7. 1
surround sound are available at different times of
the year in the warehouses and at Costco.com.