This past Tuesday, Sony released the latest Playstation 3 firmware upgrade highlighted by much-coveted Blu-ray Profile 1.1. Rushing to download the firmware isn’t of much use until January 1 when the first Profile 1.1 Blu-ray Discs arrive in stores. That is, unless you get one of the discs early. Which is exactly what we did with Resident Evil: Extinction.
I was a bit stressed for time last night so providing a full review of Resident Evil: Extinction is still a couple days off. I did watch the film, and it looks and sounds fantastic, as expected. But I was most interested in how the picture-in-picture Profile 1.1 functionality would work, both in terms of how it was presented and how Playstation 3 handled it.
Activating picture-in-picture on Resident Evil: Extinction is identical to turning on a commentary track; you simply click it on in the special features and then fire up the movie. The actual picture-in-picture window will appear intermittently in any one of the four screen corners displaying either sketches or full video and audio.
Unfortunately I don’t think Sony took full advantage of the two separate audio and video streams. If they did, then they need to include an instruction manual in the future because I couldn’t figure it out.
When the picture-in-picture turns on, the audio switches from 5.1 surround to 2.0 surround, whether or not the material in the small window has audio or not. I tried pressing every button and combination on the Playstation 3 remote and could not switch back and forth between the main feature audio and window audio. When sketches appeared in the window, the receiver switched to 2.0 and went dead quiet. I even tried switching the PS3 audio output between LPCM and Bitstream and it made no difference.
I don’t have a Panasonic DMP-BD30 to try it out on, so I can’t speak to whether that standalone Blu-ray Disc player will allow switching audio streams where the Playstation 3 doesn’t. My hunch is Sony neglected to include the ability when producing the disc.
I seem to recall during a demonstration of Fox’s upcoming Sunshine Blu-ray Disc release that the viewer can select the audio stream in real-time during picture-in-picture playback. If Sony did in fact omit this feature instead of me being unable to figure it out on the remote, then I sincerely hope they consider adding it on future releases.