Xbox 360 HD-DVD Lock-Up Playing “Heroes” Disc

A few days ago the wife and I bought season one of Heroes on HD-DVD. Yeah, we’re late to the party – but when season one started last year, my TV tuner didn’t record the first few episodes properly, so I gave up on the series and figured I’d pick it up on DVD before season two started. I have to say, it’s a great TV series – Ashley and I are really enjoying it.

The first night we started watching it, we watched four episodes, putting us on disc two with one episode left on that disc. When we loaded it up last night, we immediately saw a black and red screen that said “LOADING”. We stared at that for about 30 seconds, then a cancel button appeared below the word “LOADING”. We continued to wait – over a minute later, it still wasn’t loading the DVD menu, so I hit cancel. Nothing happened. I waited a bit longer, then gave up and turned off the Xbox 360. I thought for sure a reboot would fix the problem (hey, it works with most other Microsoft products), but after a reboot and re-loading of the disc from scratch, the same problem was happening. The Xbox was fine – it loaded up ok, logged me into Xbox Live, etc. As a long shot, I went into the Xbox 360 control panel and purged the system storage of all video resume points – that didn’t help. I tried unplugging the power from both the Xbox 360 and the HD-DVD drive, then reconnecting them in sequence. Still nothing – we sat there staring at the “LOADING” message. I ejected the disc, checked it for damage, then put it back in and got the same message again.

At this point I was getting frustrated, especially since this is the one and only way I can play HD-DVDs. If something doesn’t play a regular DVD, I have at least six other devices that could come through in a pinch. Not so with HD-DVD. I left it on the “LOADING” screen and flipped over to the regular DVD player to watch a Star Trek: Enterprise episode. 45 minutes later, I flipped back to the Xbox 360…and it was on the screen saver! One flick of a button later and I was staring at the Heroes menu. I don’t know what happened, or why it happened, but I’ll say this much: I’ve never had a problem like that with a regular DVD player, so if HD-DVD (or Blu-ray for that matter) are going to succeed then they need to be every bit as stable as the format they’re trying to replace.

  • sux2bu

    Ah…this is not a format flaw, but rather just a simple case of “premature EJECTulation” (I’ll assume ownership of that term thank you very much). As the local Best Buy (or equivalent) electronics ‘big box’ stores are probably starting to experience increasing lineups at the Customer Service counters for this same “problem”, you are not the first to blame the technology or the format for what is merely one part product manufacturing flaw, and one part user lack of patience. As I’m sure you already figured out through testing that Disc 2 is the ONLY one of the 7 discs that boots up a “loading” screen at startup. This is because it is the ONLY disc of the 7 with the special online features. The loading screen marks the standby while your 360 HD-DVD drive initiates the download of a rather large but necessary cookie. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this cookie can take anywhere from 1 minute to (I’ve heard up to) 10 minutes to fully download. The down side is that if you do not allow this necessary cookie to fully download, the disc will not boot up properly….as it appears you found this out the hard way.
    The manufacturers of the Heroes HD-DVD boxset made two simple mistakes; #1] they used a basic “loading” placeholder without a counter, file percentage, or any other marker to denote that something important was happening in the background and you had to wait it out. #2] they put a cancel button on the loading screen that failed to have the features as described in mistake #1.
    This combination led to your “premature EJECTulation” – in turn not allowing the necessary cookie to download to your hdd – that caused the disc to freeze up when it realized there was only a partially DL’ed cookie on the hdd because you cancelled the required DL before it was completed. Okay…so before you go searching for your bill of sale and running off to your point of purchase, there is a very simple and painless fix!

    From your XBL dash, flip blades to the Settings section. Go to “saves” and open the HD-DVD folder. Delete all the save files since they are not named to allow recognition of the specific Heroes file from the bunch, so unfortunately you have to knock em all out to make it work….another option, if you have A LOT of time and feel you need to save your cookies and saved scenes from other movies in your library is to delete files one at a time and test the Heroes disc in between each one until it loads….this will take A LOT of time however, I cannot stress more.
    Once the cache is cleared, allow the disc to cycle the complete startup. The loading screen will appear for a short while, then the screen goes blank for a second, then the loading screen returns with a “cancel” button underneath this time. DO NOT HIT THE CANCEL BUTTON!!!!!!!!! Be patient…let it work in the background – go make dinner, or play with the dogs, or whatever you need to do to blow off a few minutes. It will finish the DL and boot up normally. The up side is that it only needs to do this once (unless you clear the saves cache again). After this cookie is saved, every time you insert Disc 2 going forward, it will startup completely normally. Problem solved….enjoy the rest of Heroes in HD splendour! Glad to be of help.

  • Thanks for the explanation. I have a 10 mbps cable Internet connection, so it’s surprising that this “cookie” couldn’t have been downloaded after three minutes of waiting…unless this cookie was 500 MB in size. 😉 Seems like a poor design to me, but at least I know what it is now. Much appreciated!

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  • I want to know why you didn’t plug the HD-DVD drive into one of your PCs, do they not have HDCP or was this not an option for another reason? It is a USB drive right?

  • Sometimes the correct answers are the most obvious Kacey: I didn’t think of that. 😉 I’ve hooked up my HD-DVD drive to my PC before, but never watched a movie on it. I don’t know if any of my video cards support HDCP, even though my monitors 24″ monitors do.

  • Yeah I’ve done that quite a few times too 😀

  • I could really use the DVD player.