LG BD390 Blu-Ray Player Part 2

[Update 12/30/9:  After using my BD390 for six months I wrote a new post about it’s Netflix feature.]

I’ve had my LG Blu-Ray player for ten days now, and I’m learning a lot about this specific player, and Blu-Ray players in general.  I had been waiting for the price of a Blu-Ray machine to fall below $200 before buying, which it had, but I ended up spending $150 more for my player because I wanted Draft-N wireless built in, which only LG was offering.  I wanted a Samsung player, like my TV, but Samsung only offered wireless-G that plugged in as a dongle, which I gave a Bronx cheer to as a buying option.

Networking speed is everything.  For the first six days of owning my LG machine I was totally delighted with the built-in Netflix feature.  I was getting the HD bar on their little connection meter, and content looked fabulous.  Then Memphis was hit by a storm that knocked out the power to 129,000 homes (luckily, not mine this time), and networking hasn’t been the same since.  This isn’t LG’s fault, and I hope Comcast will eventually recover, but this lesson from nature has taught me something significant.  Without a very fast broadband connection, don’t count on those extra features of Blu-Ray players that make them cost more.

There are many factors to networking speed.  First, is the wireless speed between the device and your wireless router.  Draft-N is the fastest, and I think this speed is needed for streaming video well.  Then there’s the speed between your house and the Internet.  With Cable Internet, this varies greatly.  Finally, there is the speed of the video servers.  If those machines are hammered, things will be slow no matter how fast the other two connections.

Each evening since the storm, I’ve selected something from my Netflix menu only to be told that my connection was too slow and the machine asked me if I wanted to try anyway.  After hopefully answering yes on several nights, I’ve learned to just say no.  Movies and TV shows that were once quick to load and beautiful to look at were now almost impossible to load and horrible to watch.  Bummer.

I’m not an early adopter, and after several years of Blu-Ray refinements, I had hoped things would be smooth sailing by now.  Not so.  My wife keeps asking me why I don’t take the LG back.  She complained that her DVDs looked better on the old DVD player.  The Gilmore Girls jittered.  I could see it too.  And I had read on the Amazon reviews many complaints about playing DVDs on the LG player, whereas many reviewers said old DVDs looked great.  I got into the setup and changed the screen resolution to automatic, and Susan’s problems disappeared.  That’s one of the many hassles of digital TV, matching the resolution of the content to the resolution set on the TV.  I had set the LG to 1080p, wanting to get the max out of my Blu-Ray discs.  The TV was set to 4:3 for playing DVD TV shows.

So my advice to people getting into this Blu-Ray game is to expect a learning curve.  They aren’t as easy to use as DVD players with old-style analog TVs.  And I also say “buyer beware” to people wanting those new gee-whiz features.

I really wanted Pandora streaming music, a feature offered on Samsung players.  I even wrote LG to see if they were working on it.  Here’s my plea:  “Will the BD 390 be upgraded to handle Pandora streaming music, and Amazon Unbox video?”  Here is LG’s short answer after editing out the flowery marketing speak:  “Unfortunately this unit does not handle Pandora that is a feature of one of our new home theater systems.”  I would have thought their fancy Blu-Ray player was part of their home theater system.  At least I got my reply within 24 hours.

If I had seen LG’s support page before buying the player, I don’t think I would have bought my player.  It doesn’t offer system updates for downloading, or any information about updates.  The unit itself has a menu option for checking for updates, but that only works if you have  the box networked or if put the update on a USB drive and feed it to your machine directly.  But how do you get those updates if the support page doesn’t offer them?  I was also wanting a user forum on the support page.  A Blu-Ray player is essentially a computer.  It has tremendous potential for expansion.  Many great equipment sites have these kinds of features on their support site.

Forums are especially useful because volunteer tech-wizards will offer hard won discovery tips, and company techs will add inside knowledge.  I get the feeling LG wants people to accept what’s listed on the box as the only features their machine will ever have.  They are missing a marketing advantage by not promoting such goodwill.  The menu on the LD BD390 has 8 icons, with room for 4 more without reducing the size of the current icons.  They could squeeze 20 icons easily onto the screen if needed, offering 20 super features.

These machines are computers, and adding features is like loading software and updating the menu.  LG could offer Pandora, Amazon Unbox, Rhapsody Music, Lala.com, iTunes, Hulu.com, and many other multimedia networked services.  And maybe they will.  The BD 390 is new.  I’m going to be pissed off though if they sell the same box labeled the BD 490 with those features.  If I see that, I won’t be buying LG anymore.

For now, I’m not going to take my player back.  It does what was advertised on the box, although the box should have had in very big letters, a warning that these features need a very fast Internet connection and without such a fast connection these fancy features will suck.  Many people are going to be disappointed.  Probably only the top cable and DSL speeds will offer pleasing results.   Doesn’t Korea have the best broadband in the world?  Their marketing execs need broadband simulator for the other countries they sell to, so as to get an idea of how their products will perform in different markets.

I hope my very fast Comcast connection comes back.  [Comcast contacted me because of this blog and reset my modem, and I’m  getting 17-20 Mb/s download speeds and the Netflix feature is back to producing excellent results.  Thanks Melissa, I’m happy with my LG again, and impressed with Comcast’s service, let’s hope LG might be reading blogs too.]

But the future development of Blu-Ray players that have networked features is illustrated by my desire to have Rhapsody support.  I have a separate device, a Roku SoundBridge M1001 that supports getting music off my computer that is stored in Windows Media, iTunes and Rhapsody.  The LG BD390 sees the Windows Media, but supports another media server, Nero, and doesn’t see iTunes or Rhapsody.  Roku now makes a Netflix/Amazon Unbox decoder.  Apple makes a AppleTV device.  How many boxes will I need to buy for my den to work with my TV and stereo setup?  How many HDMI connections and combinations of HDMI connections will that take?  How many surround sound connections to my receiver will I need?

The solution is one box.  And the obvious place for that box, is the Blu-Ray player.  I waited out the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray fight for the winner to emerge, but now it seems many other contenders must duke it out.  There are already several online video distributors, and many music services.  Right now it’s like buying a different brand of TV for each TV network you want to watch, and a different radio for each music station you want to play.

If you’re sitting at your computer you can take advantage of all of these offerings.  That’s because a computer is a general purpose device.  We need to think of the box we hook up to our TV as a general purpose device, and a Blu-Ray player is a computer.  They should be upgradable by software, so each quarter, as manufacturers make marketing deals, they can upgrade their players to offer more choices.

Here’s a specific example of my problem.  I discovered a new musical group I like, The Kings of Leon on Lala.com.  I then went to Zune Marketplace and added their album to my Zune to play on my trip to Birmingham, Alabama.  When I got home I wanted to play them on my big stereo in my den.  I have Rhapsody set up to do this, but I had switched the optical fiber audio connector to my LG BD390 player, so my SoundBridge M1001 wasn’t hooked up.  I went to Target to buy the CD so I could rip it and put it on my computer so the BD 390 could see it.  Target was out of the CDs.  I already have rights to play this CD on two paid subscription services, but I was willing to buy it on CD so it would work with my new LG BD 390, but that didn’t work out.  So I shifted the optical fiber cable from the LG to the SoundBridge and played the CD.  When I want to watch a movie, I’ll have to shift the fiber audio cable back.

If the LG supported Rhapsody, Zune or Lala, I could have played it through the Blu-Ray box as it was set up.  By the way, even though my connection isn’t fast enough for streaming video from Netflix, it’s perfectly fine for streaming music.  The Kings of Leon sounded great.  I may still buy the CD to hear them in their best sound quality, but my SACD CD player won’t work if the LG BD 390 is connected because my receiver won’t take 5.1 RCA connection setup from my CD player and optical fiber input by the LG at the same time.  The LG will play a normal CD, but it doesn’t support SACD, an orphan technology that I need to keep the old SACD CD player around to play my handful of SACDs.  The LG could have offered SACD and DVD-Audio support.

Sometimes I want to just give up on technology for five years, and come back and see if the Geeks of Earth have worked everything out.  Man, the Amish must have it easy.

JWH – 6/18/9

Update 6/19/9:  Melissa at Comcast posted a reply to this blog offering help, and my network is working perfectly again.  The Netflix feature is back too, and this has a lot of implications.  I’m on Netflix’s unlimited 1 disc out at a time subscription, but with this new feature I can watch as many TV and movies I want from their Watch Now list.  I’ve converted all my queue to Blu-Ray discs.  I read customer reviews of the Roku Netflix box on Amazon, and many say how streaming Netflix movies and TV shows have changed the way they do things.  One thing they do is to cut their Netflix subscription down to 1 disc out at a time, and many talked about canceling their cable TV.  Streaming Netflix, when it works right is a game-changer.  I know, for the most part, I’ve stopped buying DVDs because of Netflix, and I won’t be buying Blu-Ray discs, because I can get them from Netflix too.  We know Comcast is reading this too.  I wonder if they will change the way they offer content.  Instead of me buying a zillion channels, I’ll pay a few and stream just the shows I want to watch.  Streaming content could mean the end of networks.

30 thoughts on “LG BD390 Blu-Ray Player Part 2

  1. thank you, thank you, thank you!! i could not have put it better myself. i bought the lg bd390 for christmas, and at the time, its only flair was the netflix instant streaming. i’m lg brand loyal, so the pick was kind of a no-brainer. a few months later, a firmware update gave us youtube access as well. now, i’m waiting for pandora or something to play music on, as pluggin in my ipod on the bd390 doesn’t work. it doesn’t recognize the device, though i’m sure if it were any other mp3 player it probably wouldn’t struggle as much. also, can’t view pix or anything. would be nice to play a slideshow off my iphone with some music in the background for parties and whatnot. so, i need music, and i just don’t understand why they aren’t doing another firmware update that gives us some freakin music? i don’t think releasing a bd490 with new bells and whistles is the answer. take apple for example. i have the first generation iphone, and three generations later, i still have nearly all the same things the newer iphones have as far as applications and new features are concerned. i may only have 8 gigs and it may not be as fast as other iphones (though still faster than any other pda), but i have all the new goodies because apple releases them in their upgrades making your investment better for the longterm. i’m sick of everything becoming obsolete right after you buy it, especially when we all know they can just release a software upgrade. and, hey, i don’t mind paying a little for that. better than having to buy a whole new player. but apple doesn’t make you pay, and apple ain’t cheap.

  2. Hello and thanks for this interesting post. I just got a BD390 myself and I am thrilled overall. But, I am running into issues with the Nero software. You say that it could see the Windows Media (assuming you are referring to the Windows Home Server?), does that mean you were able to stream video files using that server? If so, what types?

    Thanks again!

  3. Nero appears to catalog the same songs as what Windows Media Player sees. I’m not using a Windows Home Server, but Vista. But I have my Windows Media Player set up to share files for my Windows Media Server, a SoundBridge M1001, a device that uses WiFi to get songs off my computer and play on my stereo. It’s connected to the stereo. But now, my NB390 can do it too.

    I’ve read that other people have problems with Nero. My Nero didn’t work right away. I upgraded it to the latest version and kept messing with it until it started working. I don’t know why though.

  4. Ah, I did not know there was Windows Media Server which was different than the Windows Home Server. So, then is it the Soundbridge which enables the content on the Windows Media Player to stream via wifi to the 390?

    I am considering going with the free software called TVersity, which I hear works with the BD390 as well, and you can set it up to collect RSS feeds (like for video podcasts) to then stream to your device. But I still want to try to get Nero to work correctly.

    Thanks for your excellent article!

  5. I bought the LG BD390 blu-ray player and had to return it to the seller. It would not recognize my network. LG customer support first told me my router was too far away ( I doubted this was true) but gave them the benefit of the doubt & brought my router closer to my device. It still didn’t recognize my network. I have a wireless laptop & it not only picks up my network but others in my area from anywhere in my house. I called LG again as well as Netflix for help. This time LG stated the device could be bad & that it should of picked up my network or some network in the area. Netflix agreed with this. This was a brand new player…..has anyone else had an issue like this? Is there something i’m doing wrong. It is totally wireless right. I shouldn’t need an HDMI cable is that correct?

  6. Renada, did you go into the LG’s setup and enable the wireless? When I did that, the LG asked for my wireless security code, which I inputed, and then the LG saw my network. Then I had to go into the Netflix setup and get a code the LG generated that I had to input at the Netflix web site, and then the LG saw my Netflix queue. It all worked smoothly.

    By the way, how is your wireless router set up? You can hide your wireless from the world as a security measure, but it means you have to know the wireless SID to find it. Maybe LG can’t handle hidden networks.

    One thing you could have tried was to turn the security off on your wireless and see if the LG then saw it.

    You do need a HDMI cable to go from the LG to your TV (unless you use component inputs) – but this is to play video, not get video off the Internet.

  7. I so far love m BD390 but can only sporadically get Netflix and YouTube to work. After Netflix logs in it tells me it cannot connect to the network and gives me the option to retry or go to network setup. Choose retry a bunch of times and eventually the instant que comes up. Try to watch a move and Netflix tells me it cannot connect again. Youtube tells me “there may be congestion” and will only show me the list of videos available. I have tried the wireless connection (router 20 feet away) and a wired connection with no luck. I have downloaded all the BD390 updates but no luck. As far as I can tell it is the player. Netflix streams fine a computer on the same router.

    Anyone have any helpful hints?

    1. Figured it out with clues from other forums. The common advice is to set the BD390 to a static address which means manually typing in the IP, Subnet Mask, Gateway and DNS servers. I did this with an unused IP address outside the range my router DHCP feature would normally assign to devises using Dynamic addressing inside my house. This did not work.

      But never the less it is a necessary step to what did work … specifying the DNS servers of Comcast and not my router. To get the Comcast DNS servers I had to go into the router configuration (DLINK DGL-4500) and look at the WAN section. This showes the data that Comcast (or your ISP) provides. Normally the router will pretend to be all that stuff for the sake of the devices in your home. But for some reason the BD390 does not like the router pretending to be the DNS.

      Now the payer works perfectly, even over wireless.

      1. Brian,

        I am glad your steps to resolve your connectivity issues worked for you. I tried the above steps you listed and still had issues. (same router as yours, D-Link DGL-4500)

        What did work for me was to update my router’s firmware to 1.21NA. Once I did that everything worked even after I undid the static ip and DNS.

      2. I have been struggling with my BD390 shutting down when my ReadyNAS Duo is on the LAN. I have the BD390 assigned to a static IP and all, but it still shuts down. I have to take the Duo off the LAN to have the BD390 work and not lock up and shutdown. With the Duo off the LAN, the BD390 works great. Any suggestions?

  8. Brian, that’s very useful information. There’s been a couple of times when my BD390 acted weird, but it was because my network was down. Normally, it has no trouble with my router.

    Maybe your information will help Renada and others, and if I had trouble in the future, I’ll use your trick.

    Now, I have been curious if I’d get even better Netflix quality if I hooked my BD390 to the router via an ethernet cable.

    I usually get about 70% on the little Netflix meter, and the shows look about as good as digital cable or DVD. I did get HD quality on the meter when I was watching the remastered Star Trek, and the picture was excellent. I wonder if I had a wired connection if I’d get HD connection quality all the time.

    There’s been a couple nights I tuned into Netflix and the quality was only about 50%, which was not acceptable, so I just turned it off.

    I really like streaming Netflix, and wouldn’t bother with discs at all if I could get guaranteed quality.

    Jim

  9. i too bought the BD 390 but can’t seem to get surround sound out of the optical out. I have changed all the settings on the unit, am I doing something wrong? Someone posted on another site that they had the same problem and used the coaxial out and surround sound worked.
    Ron

    1. You may need to enable pass through on the the HDMI and Audio output menu. I ran into the same issue with no surround until I enable the pass through.

  10. I am in Memphis and I bought the LG BD390. My Netflix works great and so does You Tube. However, I was under the impression that I could watch Hulu.com though the BD390. I am SO disappointed. I HATE that Comcast does not offer the same on demand FOR FREE as Hulu and wanted that on my TV. I can watch my movies that are on my computer. I tried Nero, but was not impressed. I tried Play On but could not watch Hulu with it. In their forum, LG has said it will work with them. I guess like you said technology has many problems. I can’t watch Hulu on my iPhone either. If only someone would come out with a “Hulu type” site that allows all devices to receive it.

  11. So glad I found this blog. Thanks for all of the information.

    My complaint is that the BD390 does not have Hulu. I hope LG gets on board with this.

    My biggest complaint is the bd390 will not play my favorite war series, “Band of Brothers.” I have the latest firmware. Does anyone else have an issue where the BD390 will not play certain blu-ray discs?

    1. So far, my BD390 will not play any of the 3 BDs in the Blade Runner 5-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition and The Captains Summit Bonus Disc from the
      Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection. I’ve also had problems with the BD from 2 Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy sets, Prince of Persia and Iron Man 2. The BDs will skip or freeze or the audio goes out-of-sync. Out of curiosity, I bought Prince of Persia single BD. The BD390 played it with no problems. I have a Plextor PX-B310U external Blu-ray player hooked up to my laptop and it plays all the above discs with no problem whatsoever.

      I contacted LG’s online support and they said they were behind in their updates. After assuring Tech Support that my player had the latest update, their solution was for me to pack up my player and ship it to thee nearest repair center… $69 service fee plus costs of the parts to repair it. Personally, I think it’s software/firmware related.

      1. I made the bonehead decision to buy the 4 disc DVD collector’s edition, not anticipating I’d be getting a Blu-Ray player. I was too anxious to see the theatrical release again.

  12. I have been struggling with my BD390 shutting down when my ReadyNAS Duo is on the LAN. I have the BD390 assigned to a static IP and all, but it still shuts down. I have to take the Duo off the LAN to have the BD390 work and not lock up and shutdown. With the Duo off the LAN, the BD390 works great. I do have the DNS set to 4.2.2.1 and 4.2.2.2 instead of the DNS listed in my Router. Is it OK to let the DSL router use the ISP’s DNS servers, but set the BD390 to use a different DNS server? (Maybe this is my issue???)

    Any suggestions?

  13. “The BD 390 is new. I’m going to be pissed off though if they sell the same box labeled the BD 490 with those features. If I see that, I won’t be buying LG anymore.”

    That’s ridiculous. It’s like saying that you would never buy another Honda because the 2011 Accord will come with a better engine than the 2010 model you bought. Its not as if LG advertised that the BD390 has Pandora and then didn’t provide it. It’s not on the box, its not in the manual: it doesn’t have it. If they provide it later via firmware update consider it a gift. With any tech purchase you always have to assume that next year’s model will be bigger, better, faster and possibly cheaper.

    Also, I dont understand the complaint about not being able to update the firmware manually. If you aren’t using this player connected to the Internet then why would you buy it? Save yourself $150 and buy a basic player.

    For the record, the next generation (BD570/590) have Pandora.

    1. I disagree because the LG BD390 is upgradable. And who expects to buy a new model Blu-ray player every year? I agree that you can’t do this with cars, but they built a device that can be upgraded. I’m currently pissed with Linksys/Cisco because they aren’t upgrading a draft N series router that I bought. When they were selling the draft N routers they said they would be upgraded to the approved standard, but this mine model wasn’t. I can see why LG or Linksys wouldn’t want to put money into a product no longer being sold, but they are selling more than machines, they want to sell brand loyalty.

  14. Not supporting Hulu is Hulu’s requirement – they insist that they are not to be watched on anything but a computer screen (no phone apps, no media centers, etc).

  15. The LG BD390 was sold with the promise of future feature upgrades. That never panned out. Now it won’t even install the updates that allow it to play the newer Bluray disks. There are too many other brands available for me to ever have to buy LG again. So long LG.

  16. I think what you said made a bunch of sense. However, consider this, suppose
    you were to create a killer headline? I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your blog, however suppose you added something that makes people desire more? I mean LG BD390 Blu-Ray Player Part 2 Auxiliary Memory is a little vanilla. You might look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how
    they write news titles to get people to click. You might add
    a related video or a related picture or two to grab people
    interested about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it could bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

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