Keep your home theater and audio equipment up to date with the latest firmware for access to the newest features and reliable, trouble-free operation. Here's what you need to know.
Firmware is a type of computer program that runs inside many home audio and video products, including HDTVs, Blu-ray players, home theater receivers, digital audio players and remote controls. It acts as a bridge between hardware (circuits, chips and other electronic components) and software (generally, content), instructing the hardware how to react to and process incoming data.
As new entertainment technologies and applications become available, the firmware inside existing devices needs to be updated periodically in order for you to take advantage of the latest refinements and feature additions. Firmware updates are also commonly used to correct minor glitches in performance and to improve the efficiency of certain operations. In essence, firmware "future-proofs" your product (to the extent that the hardware can support it) by letting you add features and enhancements that weren't available when it was originally manufactured.
Home audio and video technology is advancing so rapidly that it's not uncommon for the latest movie releases, for example, to incorporate technologies that exceed the capacity of home theater equipment that was sold only weeks or months before. Certain products are even intentionally released to market while planned features are still in development, and may need a firmware update immediately upon purchase for full performance. If you experience unexpected playback problems with a new disc (like missing or intermittent audio, picture freeze or lockup when trying to access special features content), chances are that the culprit is outdated firmware. In most cases, updating your equipment to the latest firmware is all it takes to resolve such performance issues.
Of course, the best way to avoid these kinds of problems is to actively keep your firmware up to date... and best of all, updating your firmware costs nothing.
Though it may sound intimidating, firmware is generally pretty easy to update. The easiest solution is to get automatic updates over the Internet. Internet Connectable HDTVs, Blu-ray players and home theater receivers do most of the work for you. When connected via your Internet connection, these products can be automatically triggered to download an update as soon as it becomes available. The next time you fire up your system, you'll be alerted that a new firmware update is available and then asked whether you want to install it. There should also be an option in your menu settings to check for available updates.
Read more about connecting your component(s) to the Internet.
Visit your manufacturer's Web site to download the latest firmware for your product onto your computer's hard drive:
If you don't see your brand listed above, visit this Geek Squad® page for links to more manufacturers' Web sites.
To identify the right firmware on the manufacturer's site, you'll need to know the model number of the product you're updating.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to update your player. Typically, this is done by copying the firmware update onto a USB Flash drive; if you're updating a Blu-ray player, you may also copy the file onto a CD.
Next, connect the USB drive (or load the CD) into your device and follow the instructions on the screen. (Note: It is very important to not interrupt the firmware update process once it has begun.)