Finding Firmware Information

In my previous post I explained why it is important for me to report what firmware version is installed in some of the devices which I am reviewing. It occurs to me that consumer electronics manufacturers will need to come to terms with this as well.

At the moment, some still make it hard to find out what firmware version their products are using. For example, for the LG BD300 Blu-ray player you have to load a firmware update onto a memory stick and plug it in, whereupon the unit will inform you which firmware it is currently running. For the Panasonic DMP-BD35 you have to navigate to an unconnected setup menu item and then press the blue key on the remote control.

It perhaps isn’t surprising. The culture of consumer electronics has been that a company designs and builds a product to do a particular job. Its failure to do the designed job comes about through the product breaking down. In other words, not doing the job is a failure.

They will have to accustom themselves to the information technology view, where software finalisation is an ongoing process. I downloaded a firmware for a Blu-ray player the other day and it was 95MB in size. That’s about ten times the size, from memory, of the Beta versions of Windows 95 I used to download (via a horrid 28.8K dial-up).

I suspect that the coding of the firmware wasn’t particularly efficient. Still, 95MB is a large program, and it’s unrealistic to think that it will have no errors, nor room for improvement, at all.

So a plea: please put the firmware identifiers in a straightforward information panel. No need to be ashamed that this is an admission of imperfection. That’s the way of the world now.

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