Will Blu-ray Profile 1.1 make my Profile 1.0 player obsolete?

Will Blu-ray Profile 1.1 make my Profile 1.0 player obsolete?

October 31, 2007 was the official end of the "grace period" for Blu-ray manufacturers, after which all players released must comply with the latest standard--Blu-ray Profile 1.1 (also known as Final Standard Profile and BD-Video Profile 1.1). Of course, that doesn't mean Profile 1.0 Blu-ray players still can't be sold, and if you walk into your local electronics store over the next few months, you're likely to see both Profile 1.0 and Profile 1.1 Blu-ray players on the shelf. So what's the big difference between Profile 1.0 and Profile 1.1?

Profile 1.0 vs. 1.1

There are several different hardware requirements (see the chart below), but it basically boils down to picture-in-picture functionality. All Blu-ray players up until this point have been Profile 1.0 and have lacked the secondary video and audio decoders necessary to play a smaller video in the corner while also playing the main high-def movie in the background. With the notable exception of the PlayStation 3, Profile 1.0 players cannot be upgraded via firmware to become Profile 1.1 players.

Because Profile 1.0 players lacked this functionality, movie studios have understandably not included picture-in-picture functionality on any current Blu-ray disc. According to High-Def Digest, Fox has announced that it will release its first Profile 1.1-enabled disc, Sunshine, in the first quarter of 2008. And as more Profile 1.1 players become available, we expect more Profile 1.1 discs to be released.

Profile 1.1 vs. 2.0

Despite Profile 1.1 also being known as Final Standard Profile, there's actually still another Blu-ray specification, Profile 2.0, also known as BD-Live. The major difference between Profiles 1.1 and 2.0 is that Profile 2.0 requires that the player has an Internet connection. Although some current Blu-ray players have an Ethernet port, these are strictly for firmware updates and can't be used to access downloadable content.

Again, since Internet connectivity isn't a mandatory feature on current Blu-ray players, there are currently no Internet-enabled Blu-ray discs and none have been announced for the future. Internet connectivity could be used to download additional movie content, download trailers, or enable purchasing movie-related merchandise. Profile 2.0 also increases the mandatory local storage capacity to 1GB, which is presumably to accommodate downloaded content.