On June 22, Samsung Blu-ray Disc owners got an unfortunate surprise when their players suddenly stopped working.
According to reports from the tech press, as well as posts to Twitter, Reddit and various support forums, the Samsung players suddenly began regressing into what was described as a “reboot loop.”
This was bad news for device owners who still rely on Blu-ray players to watch their movie collections, while also using smart TV features, including streaming service apps, on the players.
Shortly thereafter, Samsung said on a company tech support page that “we are aware of the boot loop issue that appeared on certain 2015 Samsung Blu-Ray players and are offering free mail-in repairs to customers who have been impacted.” Those affected were asked to call 1-800-SAMSUNG.
Now, there appear to be answers on what exactly happened.
According to a report by The Register, which cited “A Register reader who is savvy with low-level hardware,” provided a convincing explanation.
The connected Blu-ray players, the expert said, “are programmed to log their activities and send copies of this information to Samsung. This telemetry is sent to the tech giant’s servers when the player’s firmware is told to check for a software update. These logs include things like when you opened, say, the Netflix app and when you closed it on the player.”
The players do not perform that transmission until the privacy notice is accepted by the user, the report said. And a certain file, sent on June 18, “wasn’t formatted in a way compatible with the device’s code.”
“Players were bricked even though the users never performed a network update. It was enough for the player to be connected to the internet. Samsung never asked the user if it was OK to download the bomb,” the expert said. This crashed the main program, which leads the device to reboot, which happened over and over again.
The problem did not affect Blu-ray players that haven’t connected to the internet. Samsung also replaced the file on its servers on June 27, the report said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.