The highly respected company NAD (which originally stood for ‘New Acoustic Dimensions’) has now entered the Blu-ray fray with its first model, the T 587. Rather than a stumbling first effort, this proved to be a highly capable unit that provided good performance with PAL DVDs in addition to Blu-ray itself.
This player is a full BD-Live unit. That is, it has on the back a network connection. Plug it into your home network and use your broadband connection to allow certain Blu-ray discs to download additional content. So far this content hasn’t been compelling, but has included additional trivia tracks that play along with movies.
It also supports Bonus View so that you can use the picture-in-picture commentaries provided on some discs.
To support both these features the unit requires additional memory to be inserted: at least one gigabyte. This is via a USB socket on the front, which I reckon is a silly place to put it. On a DVD player a USB socket is an extra which you can use ad hoc. With a Blu-ray player like this one, the USB memory is an integral part of the unit and needs to remain in place most of the time, so having it at the front is not a good idea.
The unit will play back the usual range of discs, plus recordable Blu-ray discs (BD-R and BD-RE). It also supports a wide range of multimedia: JPEG and PNG photos, MP3 and WMA music, and AVCHD video.
The unit has a number of ‘Skins’, which are the background screens shown on your TV when no content is playing. The default one is called ‘Fantasy’, which turns out to be a plain ‘NAD’ logo over a blue background. Could someone at NAD have a quirky sense of humour?
Checking through the unit’s setup menus, it soon became apparent that the unit does all the good quality stuff one would expect. It can, and indeed did, deliver 1080p video at 24 frames per second, providing the best possible picture quality from Blu-ray. It could also pipe the original bitstream high definition sound to a recent home theatre receiver via HDMI for decoding. It does not have multichannel analog outputs, so although it will decode Dolby TrueHD itself (but not DTS-HD Master Audio), there’s no way of feeding this to a home theatre receiver except via HDMI (so your receiver needs to have HDMI).
However, it will deliver the Dolby Digital and DTS ‘core’ audio streams embedded within the new high definition ones. If you are playing a PIP Bonus View title, it can decode both audio streams, mix them together again, and send them out as multichannel DTS via the optical or coaxial audio outputs, thereby supporting older home theatre receivers.
The picture quality was excellent on Blu-ray movies, and on PAL DVDs. It was not quite so good with interlaced 1080i material, but that is relatively rare.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this unit was how fast it was. Starting up, opening its tray, reading and starting Blu-ray discs, it was even faster than a PlayStation 3!
The NAD T 587 is an impressive Blu-ray debut from NAD, but the price is a heart-stopper. Similar performance is available for a mere fraction of the $1,999 NAD is charging for this unit.
Still, if you already have a NAD system, the styling alone might make this unit a must-have, in which case you won’t be let down by performance.