You may not know this about me, but I have had a tendency to support laser lens cleaners and their "attempts" to wipe free any "debris" or "dirt" that may have been left behind on an optical disc player's laser mechanism -- the topic was discussed ad nauseum in different forums some time ago. It is never recommended to use such devices, from what I gained in those threads, and the danger to possibly scratching the lens itself or otherwise causing a laceration to the reading mechanism seems to increase twofold in doing so. However, I have been using an Allsop "DVD CarbonEdge Pro" DVD laser lens cleaner in my Panasonic DMP-BD10A since the day I first thought it needed some "servicing" and haven't had a problem with it "scratching" or "damaging" any reading mechanism in the deck (as far as I know) -- furthermore, the disc comes with a plethora of easy-to-follow test sequences for verifying personal settings on your home theater (and some video tests for setting brightness and color which I don't use) and allows me to really make sure everything is running right in the system and that all speakers are properly balanced for my room, after I do a complete diagnostic by checking the receiver levels and player/display settings.
Well, enter 2009, when I finally got my paws on what Maxell calls their "Blu-ray Laser Lens Cleaner" with "Exclusive Wind Funnel Technology" for cleaning BD players...I had heard about this product for some time, and it admittingly piqued my interest. According to the press and marketing materials, here was a product that would only not scratch your delicate lens, but would also be so remarkable it wouldn't touch anything in the deck -- it blows out a discharge "wind" of sorts to blow any residue in the area away from vital parts of the playback system. I discussed such a product in those aforementioned threads I detailed earlier, but the Maxell kind of got lost in the heap of the discussion; looking around on other forums, it seems Maxell is the only manufacturer offering such a "cleaning" system exclusively for BD players, including Playstation and gaming boxes. Does the Maxell marketing hoopla serve any side dish of truth to what this product can do? I cracked open the disc last night to find out...
First of all, the instructions on the box claim that when you put the disc in, you should initially select a language that's suitable -- but that's not possible, because when you load the disc, it automatically goes right to the cleaning process with some piercing "test tone" emanating from your speakers while a hideously fake French female accent announces what's happening. As graphics of the disc spin around on screen and emulate the cleaning process of this disc (with air and such entering the lens area), the process finally ends and you are then returned to a main menu, which is about as boring as Jenna Jameson with no breasts; before I go into what else was "wrong" with this disc, let me express my biggest disappointment: Maxell's laser cleaner ships and stores in an actual Blu-ray case, complete with blue plastic and all, suggesting that like calibration systems such as DVE'S HD Basics, the video itself is going to be in 1080 high def -- this disc wasn't. Amazingly so, the graphics, menus and playback interaction plays back at standard DVD resolution, based on the way my Panasonic player threw up its menus (not to mention you can simply tell this was not high definition). That was really disappointing; I understand this is meant just for cleaning purposes, but people can keep their DVD laser lens cleaners for standard DVD video (such as my Allsop disc).
Getting beyond that, the system claimed my lens was now "clean," and the main menu then opens up. Here, there are a series of speaker verification tests including polarity checks and such, but the droning nonsense of the female narration and somewhat inaccurate instructions and confusing routines seemed to make this disc a waste. At one point the narration asks you to fade your speakers to front and then to rear, as if it were a car stereo, but I never heard this from any 5.1 channel diagnostic disc I have run. If you don't follow these instructions, the music tests played back don't sound at all accurate, and make your system sound as if it's completely mis-tuned and not dialed in at all. The tests on my Allsop DVD laser cleaner were much more detailed in terms of speaker checks, test tones and varying sweeps of frequencies. Before I ejected the disc, I ran the cleaner one last time; it seemed to be the most entertaining portion of the experience.
The audio tracks are all over the place for the testing; when the cleaning is taking place, it seems to run in a two channel output, while at other times, my receiver indicated a true Dolby Digital 5.1 stream. The Allsop disc I mentioned runs in Dolby Digital 5.1 the entire time it's operating in the system, and a TrueHD mix accompanies the HD Basics Blu-ray calibration disc. There also seemed to be just two languages to choose from -- Japanese and English.
Additionally, there are music selections to choose from in order to "show off" your speakers while graphics accompany the tunes on screen; in the end, for the 11 or so dollars you can buy this for on Amazon, it's not the most money you'll part with during this economic nightmare -- but to be honest, I was expecting more from this product. If it does what it says -- that is, blow some "wind" to dislodge and blow out some gunk from the lens area -- I suppose it was worth the purchase. But the entire overall experience is more satisfying with my Allsop cleaner. Still, I can't help but remember that the manual for my Panasonic 'BD10A encourages no usage of any "lens cleaners" on this unit...
This now introduces a plethora of varying questions to ponder:
What are the benefits of such "laser lens cleaners" especially in the high def age?
If one is using a Blu-ray player for DVD playback as well, as I am, will using a DVD lens cleaner disc simply clean the laser just for the DVD playback performance?
Do Blu-ray players share a common laser to play both types of media, so that one laser is being "cleaned" by one of these discs?
At any rate, thank you for letting me sharing my experiences with the Maxell Blu-ray Disc Laser Lens Cleaner.