Updating the firmware on a Sharp BD-HP20U Blu-ray player using a USB stick and a Mac was not entirely straightforward for me.
The process is a bit brittle, so I’m documenting it in the hopes that I (and others) won’t waste so much time dealing with it next time around.
Unlike some of the new high-definition menu systems we've seen from Samsung Electronics and Philips, Sharp's menus are stuck in standard definition.
Pressing the "Setup" button on the remote brings up a bunch of awkward icons that look like they were pulled from a Windows 95 clip art package.
For more basic information on the differences between Blu-ray and HD DVD, check out our Quick Guide to HD DVD versus Blu-ray While all Blu-ray players released in 2008 have to conform to the new Blu-ray Profile 1.1, the BD-HP20U was released before the deadline and it only conforms to the older Profile 1.0.
Casting jargon aside, what this means is the BD-HP20U won't be able to play some picture-in-picture commentary tracks on newer discs, like Sunshine.
The BD-HP20U's high-resolution audio support is decent, although not complete.
It has onboard decoding for Dolby True HD and Dolby Digital Plus, but DTS support is limited to only standard DTS decoding.
High-definition video can also be output over the component video outputs (limited to 1080i), and there are also legacy S-Video and composite video outputs.
Editors' note June 9, 2008: The rating of this player has been changed since its initial publication to reflect changes in the marketplace.
Blu-ray may have a sizable lead against HD DVD in the format war, but it still has a long way to go in persuading current DVD viewers to go high-definition. As we've mentioned elsewhere, despite excellent audio and video quality, there are still plenty of reasons to stay out of the Blu-ray game for a while longer.
The front faceplate is mirror-reflective and black, with a rather small LED display in the center of the unit, and a blue LED-lit circle just to the right.
The display and light can be turned off (either in the setup menu or using the "light" button on the remote), leaving a small green LED as the only light source.