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When Should You Update Firmware on Your A/V Gear?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 

In the 21st century, it’s hard to still find a non-computer based piece of electronic. Nowadays, Blu-Ray players, AV receivers or Processors and Media Players just to name a few, populate our homes and sometimes require updates for several reasons. Whether it be for fixing certain quirks, improving quick load times, or to enjoy new features such as 4K or 3D, your components will require you to update the firmware.

Now it made sound like a good idea, but it’s not always the case.
Quote:
I had a Blu-ray player that needed a firmware update that promised to increase the load time of the player's notoriously slow drawer. I downloaded the firmware onto a DVD as I was instructed. I spun the disc and let it rip. And that was the last time the player ever worked. It was literally dead.

I’m not emplying that all firmwares are bad, most are necessary. But sometimes, when your eager to get the new features and your unit is out of warranty, it maybe a good idea to hold off for a bit, especially if the firmware just came out.
Quote:
Most firmware and software updates lead to a good result. However, consider the pressure that companies are under to get products to market and function up to expectations. At the same time, product managers are forced to do more with their components with less engineering, quality control and design resources. This is why it's always a good idea to err on the side of caution when it comes to updates.

A simple search on AVS will get you that info or at least in touch with the people that do know and have tried it.

How do you feel about Firmware updates? Do you do research before pushing the update button?



Source
post #2 of 54
I can't stand it when a Blu Ray player requires a firmware update to play a new movie because of copy protection schemes. I have never 'bricked' anything during an update, but the concern is always there. It is absolutely a great idea to check for user feedback before updating with a brand-new firmware release. I feel better about updating gear that has battery power. Gear that's plugged into AC is susceptible to a power failure during the update, that's my #1 fear. Might be a good idea to use a battery backup (UPS) when updating AC powered gear.
post #3 of 54
I'm still rockin' the 3GS iPhone and used to update the Apps or firmware with every release; now I don't. I figured most of those are for the newer models that have compatibility issues. If it ain't broke don't fix it. I'll use that mantra for my A/V gear as well. Also, if the description is vague I won't update - "improves picture quality". Yeah, how so? Looks good to me already...

I did however update the firmware on the BD player I got for Christmas b/c I was tired of hitting 'remind me later'...
post #4 of 54
Us with the 95/93 Oppo players really got screwed with the update/Firmware to remove the ability to play flicks out our blu ray's, I wish I would have read the user thread instead blindly update the firmware..[:imagine the smiley icon knocking his head on a brick wall here:/] stupid, stupid,stupid mad.gif


Djoel
post #5 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I can't stand it when a Blu Ray player requires a firmware update to play a new movie because of copy protection schemes. I have never 'bricked' anything during an update, but the concern is always there. It is absolutely a great idea to check for user feedback before updating with a brand-new firmware release. I feel better about updating gear that has battery power. Gear that's plugged into AC is susceptible to a power failure during the update, that's my #1 fear. Might be a good idea to use a battery backup (UPS) when updating AC powered gear.

I have a Denon 3800BDCI Blu-ray player - which is really old and slow as molasses - but I have not needed to update the firmware in excess of two years, maybe longer. The unit plays any disc I throw in there, so I have always wondered why some players require firmware updates, and some don't.

Mark
post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Agree with everyone here. Have an Integra Pre-Pro and reading on AVS on the main thread for that beast that many have had issues with the firmware update, I never updated and was quite happy I hadn't. Until 2 years later I suddenly and mysteriously lost all OS, tech support for Integra told me to bring it in for repair. I took a chance and updated the firmware and fixed it all. I can tell you that I was scared to update the firmware and was praying it wouldn't make it worse.

Bottom line is, I hate firmware upgrades.
post #7 of 54
I would consider firmware updates on most devices much like I would on computer BIOS or expansion card firmware:

Do NOT update unless you have a specific need to! Otherwise it is pointless to risk bricking the device or introducing new problems.

-A security risk ONLY if it impacts your setup. Start getting used to these with networked devices, but if yours is only used offline, don't bother.
-A functional flaw ONLY if it impacts how you use the device (e.g. if its a fix for playing dvds but you only use blu-rays, who cares)
-A new feature ONLY if you intend to use it immediately. Otherwise wait until you can actually use it and let others suffer the early adopter pains which result in yet another update.

Also, for the love of NVRAM, try to flash things when they are on a UPS if you can help it, the easiest way to brick something is to loose power in the middle of an update.
post #8 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Djoel View Post

Us with the 95/93 Oppo players really got screwed with the update/Firmware to remove the ability to play flicks out our blu ray's, I wish I would have read the user thread instead blindly update the firmware..[:imagine the smiley icon knocking his head on a brick wall here:/] stupid, stupid,stupid mad.gif

Djoel
You are complaining about the fact that MediaTek had to disable the Blu-ray ISO files on HDD support 0n the BDP-93/95 after somebody blabbed about that on Amazon and BDA/studios found out.

Well no BD vendor supports Blu-ray ISO files now, and Dune media player is not a BD player for sake of argument. Life goes on.
post #9 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

In the 21st century, it’s hard to still find a non-computer based piece of electronic. Nowadays, Blu-Ray players, AV receivers or Processors and Media Players just to name a few, populate our homes and sometimes require updates for several reasons. Whether it be for fixing certain quirks, improving quick load times, or to enjoy new features such as 4K or 3D, your components will require you to update the firmware.

Now it made sound like a good idea, but it’s not always the case.
I’m not emplying that all firmwares are bad, most are necessary. But sometimes, when your eager to get the new features and your unit is out of warranty, it maybe a good idea to hold off for a bit, especially if the firmware just came out.
A simple search on AVS will get you that info or at least in touch with the people that do know and have tried it.

How do you feel about Firmware updates? Do you do research before pushing the update button?
I guess the question back to you is why bring up the case with FW updates going awry. You can brick anything, there's always a chance. If you feel uncomfortable don't do it, but then you might not have something fixed or improved upon. Really this is more of a vendor QA process to the ruggedness of the product marketed versus FW updates which are very common place now a days. IMHO I think if you are cautious, you will check on line to see how successful the FW update was for other users.
Edited by JohnAV - 1/17/13 at 1:29pm
post #10 of 54
I've had the full gamut of firmware update experiences:

1. My Onkyo TX-SR875 needed to have a firmware update to fix the notorious "DTS bomb" issue that was demonstrated by a few new DTS-HD MA discs a few years back. I remember watching "The Fly" and suddenly the room exploded (aurally) and I thought for sure that my mains and subwoofer had just bit the dust. Onkyo, ever the customer service darling (sarcasm here, big time), said that I could ship the unit to them on my dime (55 pounds of electronics) to have the firmware applied, despite it being a relatively simple serial update process. Long story short, I ended up doing it myself after putting both the receiver and the PC on battery backups and then crossing my fingers that things would go well.

2. I tried to update the firmware on a Samsung BD-P1600 to enable new BD release playback, bricked it. Samsung said 'sorry, not under warranty' and I've never bought a Samsung disc product ever again.

3. Oppo BD93 - I have the last firmware available before ISO support was withdrawn. I have the update site URL blocked with a firewall rule in my router so the player can never phone home to even know about updates. Thankfully I've never had it refuse to play any of the newer releases, but I'll be putting that record on the line when I load up Men in Black 3 this weekend.

4. Completely replaced (re-imaged) the firmware in my Samsung Gravity Smart phone and it actually became usable instead of the bloated, stuffed-ware quagmire that it came from T-Mobile as. I don't usually jailbreak, but when I do it is glorious.
post #11 of 54
The number of people getting bricked machines vs the number of people finishing the firmware update successfully are vast. People with bricked machines usually come to the forums to complain and seek info, thats is not the majority. I'd bet if you took a poll 99.9% of people have never had a bricked machine that couldn't be easily fixed with a reboot or similar easily done workaround. I've never even met an actual person (not the net) thats ever had to exchange a piece of gear for a bricking. I update everything as soon as there is a update available and I have 3 HT in my house, never had a problem with anything from my fridge to my oppo. You seem to forget to point out human error which I'm sure are a cause of quite a few failures rather than a bad flash.
post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post

You are complaining about the fact that MediaTek had to disable the Blu-ray ISO files on HDD support 0n the BDP-93/95 after somebody blabbed about that on Amazon and BDA/studios found out.

Well no BD vendor supports Blu-ray ISO files now, and Dune media player is not a BD player for sake of argument. Life goes on.


Yes, why!


On another note why is it that Bricking ,and firmware updates go hand in hand,. What I'm trying to say it's 2013 can't this little mishap can be avoided, like rolling back the procedure before the connection was broken? I've personally never bricked a player ever but the fear is there, just like most of us.

Djoel
post #13 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by giomania View Post

I have a Denon 3800BDCI Blu-ray player - which is really old and slow as molasses - but I have not needed to update the firmware in excess of two years, maybe longer. The unit plays any disc I throw in there, so I have always wondered why some players require firmware updates, and some don't.

Mark

Same Mark I have the Denon 2500BTCI still going strong, there hasnt been any updates for it for quite a long time.
post #14 of 54
FW upgrades are often trouble. For my bluray player I paid 170.00 and do all my streaming I wont hesitate to upgrade knowing all the risks....NOW...on my Samsung un60es8000 LED...forget about...I will NOT let my TV communicate whatsoever. I am still on the same FW I had when I opened the monitor 7 months ago. Unless a FW upgrade for the tv is 100% proven by many posters over a few months, that it will improve picture quality with no negative impact on functionality....I will happily sit tight.
post #15 of 54
I know I rank amongst the "Internet vocal" with regard to a bricked machine from a firmware update, but the Samsung BD-P1600 that I have (still sitting in a corner) was most definitely bricked by the firmware upgrade.

To give some perspective on the possibility of human error:
- my entire AV rack is on a CyberPower rackmount, server-grade UPS, it can run for almost 20 minutes unplugged from the wall if necessary and the plasma display isn't on
- I formatted the USB stick "clean" before putting on the .bin file for the firmware upgrade from Samsung
- I waited a really, really long time for the firmware update process to finish, over 15 minutes

The reason that have become somewhat skeptical about firmware upgrades isn't so much about the fear of bricking a device, rather the lack of transparency and minimum verbosity of what has actually been changed in the firmware; aka "what they didn't tell you" that could adversely affect the way the device works, even if the upgrade performs flawlessly.
post #16 of 54
Well, you should always update your Phone unless you're into jailbreaking, and updating your iPhone isn't akin to updating a blu-ray player's firmware. Firmware is be more akin to BIOS, and your phones updates are akin to reinstalling a newer copy of it's OS. you can't brick anything by reinstalling it's OS, mess up a BIOS install, and you're ****ed.
post #17 of 54
I would always says "Buyer Beware" regarding firmware updates. The owner of the equipment should check to see what the update does and then make the decision. I have done many updates and rarely run into problems that being said, one many not want the changes that the update provides. Many Blu-Ray firmware updates include Cinavia copy protection and this will prevent playing a copy of a disk. I would suggest the following rules regarding firmware updates.

1. Find out what the update fixes and or changes.
2. Is the update important to you. Do you need the fixes or changes.
3. Are you covered if something goes wrong?
4. Are the directions clear on how to do the update.
5. Do you have to send the equipment in to do the update?
post #18 of 54
To their credit, the one thing that the Samsung BD players had going for them in the firmware department was that you could re-apply older firmwares on top of new ones to roll back the clock if you wanted to. I am certain there are thousands of Oppo BD9-93 owners out there who would love to have that option given the ISO support withdrawal.
post #19 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post

I guess the question back to you is why bring up the case with FW updates going awry. You can brick anything, there's always a chance. If you feel uncomfortable don't do it, but then you might not have something fixed or improved upon. Really this is more of a vendor QA process to the ruggedness of the product marketed versus FW updates which are very common place now a days. IMHO I think if you are cautious, you will check on line to see how successful the FW update was for other users.

I wouldn't necessarily say that the manufacturers will release a FW that is necessary for everyone. If you read through different threads, some will not to do the updates because it's not worth the trouble or the pain in the end. Another reason as well is that sometimes there's a fix for something that your unit does not have. Why update when you don't have any issues? Sometimes people have no issues with their gear and decide to update the FW for the hell of it and next thing you know, the unit has crashed or starts having problems. Some are good, some are bad and some are inapplicable.

I was simply curious to see general views on FW and how many people actually did searches before going forward with them.
post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by N8DOGG View Post

The number of people getting bricked machines vs the number of people finishing the firmware update successfully are vast. People with bricked machines usually come to the forums to complain and seek info, thats is not the majority. I'd bet if you took a poll 99.9% of people have never had a bricked machine that couldn't be easily fixed with a reboot or similar easily done workaround. I've never even met an actual person (not the net) thats ever had to exchange a piece of gear for a bricking. I update everything as soon as there is a update available and I have 3 HT in my house, never had a problem with anything from my fridge to my oppo. You seem to forget to point out human error which I'm sure are a cause of quite a few failures rather than a bad flash.

x2.

I have never met anyone in real life who has bricked a device when updating firmware.

For me I always update my firmware. pc's, phones, game systems, streaming devices, network hardrives, tv's, blu-ray players, avrs, cable/satellite boxes...etc.. Sometime not on day 1 of the new firmware release and sometimes I check to see what the update is supposed to do, but in all I still eventually update. Never had a problem. I can empathize with people who have had issues, however I do wonder what percentage of issue may have been caused by user error. Incidentally enough, I have also never experienced a problem with the act of updating a device. I read all the time on web forums and what not how people cant get their firmware to update, weather it be network timeouts or incompatible files on a usb drive or whatever, just follow the instructions and have a stable connection and I have always been able to update my devices.

Now if I were to experience problems or brick a device I might have a different outlook.
post #21 of 54
To add a little more to this, I also had a sound issue after updating FW in my both Panasonic BD Players, the DMP-BD55 and the DMP-BD80. After the update, when I tried to send the sound from HDMI output as a PCM signal (there was a reason for that), both players did not respond correctly. The local Panasonic representative (Intertech) - to their honor - replaced the BD80 with a new one (it was still under warranty) while they brought the BD55 firmware back to the previous one, thus resolving the problem.

However, there are devices that the FW update is required, sometimes it is more than necessary. As examples, I could mention the various modern satellite receivers. Mine is the AZBox Premium model, which very frequently requires this update and most of the times gets better (by "better" I mean that certain issues are resolved).
-
post #22 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Djoel View Post

Us with the 95/93 Oppo players really got screwed with the update/Firmware to remove the ability to play flicks out our blu ray's, I wish I would have read the user thread instead blindly update the firmware..[:imagine the smiley icon knocking his head on a brick wall here:/] stupid, stupid,stupid mad.gif


Djoel

You did not mention this but I believe you are referring specifically to the ability to play from ISO images. Oppo removed that ability when they discovered that they had inadvertently included it in publicly-available firmware. They had not intended to release that ability. One way to read your posting is that the Oppo has problems playing the actual B-D discs, which is not the case.

I have not gone back through the release notes for the relevant firmware releases to see if Oppo mentioned they were removing ISO playback [as I had never used that feature myself], but Oppo generally is among the most informative in telling customers what issues a given firmware update addresses. Most of the other players I've had usually have firmware notes which read something like "issues with some discs have been addressed," which is useless.

I do realize that those owners who were using that feature were quite upset with it's removal.

One thing I liked about the first Blu-Ray player I got, the Samsung BD-UP5000, was that one could readily downgrade the firmware (so long as one had saved the earlier firmware file). It is unfortunate that Samsung has abandoned updating the firmware for that player, as their latest player firmware fixed some issues but broke the ability to play certain other discs (particularly Disney B-D discs). Thus one has to use the 1.6 firmware with some of the newer discs, but has to revert to the 1.4 firmware for Disney discs.

So one would ideally have:
1) the ability to downgrade firmware if a new release causes problems
2) comprehensive notes explaining what is changed in a particular release and why it was done
3) long-term support from the manufacturer

Hey, one can dream, can't one???

Mike
post #23 of 54
My local PBS station is an UpdateTV station. I'm not sure what brands are supported. Anyone have their TV updated that way?

My LG 47LV5500 has had a few Firmware updates since I bought it. One added Skype. We are still waiting for the update to allow DTS passthrough.
post #24 of 54

From my perspective as soon as possible

post #25 of 54
I used to always update FW when available until last year. I have a CECHA01 model PS3.. its the old fat design that is fully backwards compatible, has 4 USB slots, and has memory card slots.. apparently it also was one of the only models that you were able to run lynex (sp?) and other OS's on.. I SELDOM use the machine and one day bought a game and went to play it.. did the update and later learned that it took away the ability to use other OS's on the machine.. Not a big deal to me personally, but I guess an un-updated machine is worth a decent amount of money to some people.. ie resale value just plummetted. Now I ALWAYS search for the update and determine what it is and if it is really necessary on any device.
post #26 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcusj0015 View Post

Well, you should always update your Phone unless you're into jailbreaking, and updating your iPhone isn't akin to updating a blu-ray player's firmware. Firmware is be more akin to BIOS, and your phones updates are akin to reinstalling a newer copy of it's OS. you can't brick anything by reinstalling it's OS, mess up a BIOS install, and you're ****ed.
....That reminds me of my first generation Samsung bluray player, bd-p1200. It was touted for excellent DVD playback processing however from the first FW and forward, the dvd picture quality was diminished and the player still was not able to play all blurays thrown at it. I've long since replaced it in my primary setup but i do wish I'd never have updated it. Very happy that my Toshiba HDdvd player still processes the very best dvd picture I've seen other than OPPO ...considering I still have 500 or so dvd's ; my HD-A30 is hooked up and I have one in storage. 50 bucks per machine at BB once the HDdvd format got the death sentence.
post #27 of 54
Look at the image in the OP. Does it say WHICH hardware is requesting the update? Nope.

I have a similar message that I've been ignoring for weeks. My message could be coming from my signal source, from my receiver or from my TV. I'm certainly not going to agree to a firmware update when I don't even know who's asking me to do that.

Manufacturers: Please include the equipment name or type into your update messages. Or at the very, very least your own name; you know that, right? Why not include it? Even if I trust you to provide a quality update, that doesn't mean I trust everyone.
post #28 of 54
There can be no single good answer for everyone in all cases. Some vendors are more thorough, others rush the latest firmware out the door with little regression testing. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but they're not going to tell you that. Use your judgment as a number of other correspondents have noted.

From the manufacturer's perspective I can see why they wouldn't touch units that are out of warranty. They could go broke fixing the users' mistakes in perpetuity. I've seen some unbelievably ham-handed and stupefying things done by users who can't be bothered to read directions or apply the tiniest bit of common sense. They get what they deserve.

And there is no excuse--NONE--for not running every computerized device off a u.p.s. BD players, satellite receivers, personal computers, any device that you expect to operate reliably had better be receiving clean power or all bets are off. There are power glitches that escape detection by the Human eye that can make computerized devices act weird, but a power cycle solves the problem. A u.p.s. prevents it. ALWAYS run an uninterruptible power supply on anything that you care two cents about.
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post


In the 21st century, it’s hard to still find a non-computer based piece of electronic. Nowadays, Blu-Ray players, AV receivers or Processors and Media Players just to name a few, populate our homes and sometimes require updates for several reasons. Whether it be for fixing certain quirks, improving quick load times, or to enjoy new features such as 4K or 3D, your components will require you to update the firmware.

Now it made sound like a good idea, but it’s not always the case.
Quote:
I had a Blu-ray player that needed a firmware update that promised to increase the load time of the player's notoriously slow drawer....

Stopped right there, I can totally see why new firmware is bad idea
Sorry, I can't help :P

On topic, I did not know you can update firmware of an Onkyo receiver, it's an amplifier, how does that work
post #30 of 54
Crash free BIOS has been a standard feature of PC motherboards for absolutely years. Why manufacturers of devices that are guaranteed to need firmware updates, choose not to implement any kind of ROM based backup BIOS, is beyond me. Either this should become standard, or manufacturers should be forced to perform a BIOS re-flash on ANY device, regardless of the warranty status.

Consumers should not be held responsible for things like power spikes or drop outs, that can kill a FW update. Before the internet, we didn't have FW updates, and things worked fine... I just think the internet has made manufacturers lazy and sloppy. And coming from the games industry (as a developer), that was certainly a philosophy there, "just release it, and fix it later".

To me, a product requiring a FW update, fits the classification of a product with a "defect present at the time of manufacture", which in the UK at least, gives you up to 6 years to get a repair done, regardless of the warranty status. Perhaps it needs a few more unhappy consumers, to start pushing along these lines... I know I certainly would, if something ever went wrong.

I must confess though, I have never had a bricked device, whether installing official or non-official firmwares... so there has never been anything to deter me from performing them. It's just annoying that Blu Ray is forcing people to take risks with their very expensive equipment, just to be able to watch a film. We should be beyond that by now.
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