After Samsung's surprise admission that its BD-P1000 Blu-ray player suffered from excessive softness caused by aggressive noise reduction, I spoke with a representative of the company today who both confirmed the problem and provided a few details on the possible solution. A firmware update will supposedly be made available sometime in September that will modify the default settings of the player's Genesis video-processing chip. Samsung's engineers had reportedly engaged the chip's noise-reduction function because it helped smooth film grain, which viewers might mistake for unintentional video noise, but it had the effect of softening the image too much. The firmware update may not disable the noise reduction completely, but it is supposed to make the image look sharper.
I also asked about other issues with the player, including its tendency to disable 1080p output with some 1080p-compatible HDTVs and its sporadic intolerance for Blu-ray discs. I was told that the company may issue another firmware update to address other problems, but nothing is confirmed yet. In either case, since the Samsung BD-P1000 lacks an Ethernet port, its firmware will be more difficult to update than that of Toshiba's HD-DVD players. The rep said a file would be made available on Samsung's Web site, which users would burn to CD; then they would have to insert the disc into the player to complete the upgrade. Samsung also intends to ship upgrade discs to BD-P1000 owners who request them. Of course, we'll update our BD-P1000 review when we get our hands on the upgrade.