Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
The demise of HD DVD earlier this year wrong-footed LG, which had led the way to hybrid HD DVD/Blu-ray players. So this is the first dedicated Blu-ray player that I’ve seen from LG, and I have to say that it is excellent in just about every way. At just under $500, you get a unit that supports all Blu-ray features, including the Picture-in-Picture modes of BonusView, and Internet connectivity of BD-Live.
First the criticisms: there are but two and both have to do with storage. The advanced features of BD-Live and BonusView require you to add storage memory to the unit in the form of a USB memory stick. But the socket for this is on the front panel, so it sticks out the whole time. Irritating.
Second, some players allow you to delete all the information stored on the stick which relates to a specific movie. This unit only allows you to zap the entire contents of the stick.
But here’s the good stuff. First, it played every disc I threw at it, and it happily played them all. It downloaded trailers from the internet using recent Sony Pictures titles, and the Iron Man quiz, with no glitches and at roughly the same speed as a PlayStation 3.
Second, it played all my PIP (picture in picture) titles properly, muting the main sound as required to let the PIP audio be heard.
Third, it started up quite quickly, loaded discs about as quickly as a Playstation 3, and had a responsive remote control.
Fourth, it had a good range of transport controls, allowing single frame stepping even with Blu-ray discs, a high speed scan of up to 180x, and even an unusual progress bar arrangement with fast movement using the remote’s arrow keys.
Finally, and most importantly, it produced brilliant picture quality, not just with Blu-ray but also with PAL DVDs. It sailed through my DVD tests with among the best performance I’ve seen.
The unit does not decode DTS-HD Master Audio (it does decode Dolby TrueHD), so for some movies the best sound will be achieved by piping the bitstream to a good home theatre receiver.