DVD and Blu-Ray players on gaming consoles have come a long way. We’re two decades removed from the PS2’s piss-poor DVD player, with Sony eventually taking strides to make the PS3 and PS4’s movie experience way smoother. Today, their consoles are systems that you can (and many do) use for all of your media needs, from gaming to movies to music.
The Xbox, on the other hand, has had a very strange journey. Microsoft came in strong with the OG Xbox, with a robust DVD and CD interface that put the competition to shame. However, they didn’t exactly keep that momentum – the 360’s DVD player was bare-bones and clunky, and lacked the snappy functionality or snazzy aesthetic of its predecessor.
Then came the Xbox One, when it felt like the tech giant just up and quit. The Blu-Ray/DVD player on the One is an ugly, barely functional disaster that doesn’t even come with the system. You have to go out of your way to download it through the One’s chunky store page, which is absolutely bonkers on a conceptual level. You’re shipping out an all-in-one entertainment device and you don’t just have a native player? Seems pretty sus to me.
That’s not even digging into the myriad issues with the player itself. While this could very well be a hardware-side problem, 4K Blu-Rays on the One X often freeze and stutter, and sometimes crash altogether. It’s a fairly miserable experience, and one that I hoped the Series X/S would solve.
Surprise! It doesn’t. This is still the same terrible Blu-Ray app that you still have to download, with the same chunky UI and the same bad button layout. There’s definitely less lag, and it’s definitely more responsive. But it’s still a far cry from acceptable, especially considering this likely isn’t a problem with the PS5, which is a fair assumption because it wasn’t one with the PS4.
That being said, I will say that the actual player is more stable this time around. I was able to check out my imported 4K copy of Mary and the Witch’s Flower and walked away very impressed by the richness of the color, the clarity of the image, and the lack of artifacting. Forbes has reported on raised black levels still being a problem, but it wasn’t something that really stuck out to me – maybe it will on a darker movie like Halloween, though. Still, there were no crashes, no stutters, no strange visual anomalies. Of course, that could totally happen, but I haven’t seen it yet.
So, sure – this Blu-Ray player is an improvement, in that it doesn’t break as often. But speaking as somebody who tries to not get upset about petty gamer bullshit like this, I can’t help but to feel this was a missed opportunity. Instead of shipping with a decent native player, you still have to go online and install the same terrible app that’s sat at 2/5 stars on the Microsoft Store for years.
I’m an Xbox fangirl, but c’mon, y’all. Don’t be like this.
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Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.
She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.
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