Price (RRP): $1,999
FIRST AUSTRALIAN REVIEW
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Now there are three Blu-ray kids on the block, with Pioneer’s BDP-LX70 joining Panasonic’s and Samsung’s existing players. A little to my surprise, Pioneer has positioned its player, price-wise, between the two. Given its feature set, I was expecting Pioneer to be right up there with the $2,700-ish pricing of the Panasonic player.
So what are those features? Well, obviously, it plays Blu-ray discs and DVDs and CDs (Pioneer’s first model, not sold here, didn’t play CDs!) Where it differs from the others is that it can provide full high resolution progressive scan video at 24 frames per second, rather than 60 (although it can do that as well).
Why? Because movies are shot at 24 frames per second. To pack those frames into 60 means an uneven number which makes for occasionally jerky pictures.
The other unusual feature is network connectivity. Using the Ethernet port on the back of the unit, you can plug it into a home network. On Windows computers you run Windows Media Connect, software that you can freely download from Microsoft. This makes available various photo, movie and music formats which can be displayed or played back on the BDP-LX70.
Let’s cut to the chase and see whether this 24 frames per second really is a big thing. That was made pretty easy to do because the unit has a very useful two-way switch on the remote control to choose the output resolution. This takes you from 576i (or 480i, where ‘i’ is interlaced) through to 1080p (progressive), and a couple of special modes. The relevant one is ‘Source Direct’, which matches the output resolution of the player to whatever it is playing. So when you?re watching a Blu-ray movie, it will deliver 1080p24 (that is, at 24 frames per second) but when you switch over to one of the featurettes on the disc, the output will switch to 480i (that’s standard US DVD resolution, which is what is used for many of the special extras on Blu-ray). Likewise, this mode outputs standard DVDs at 576i.
On a couple of different displays (a front projector and an LCD TV, true high definition units both), the 24 frames per second performance was absolutely brilliant. I had previously been a little troubled by a lack of smoothness in the action in some movies. It wasn’t the kind of thing I’d notice with handheld camera work, nor with fast moving scenes, but more leisurely sweeps of the camera would seem bumpy. The Pioneer BDP-LX70 restored the smoothness that should be there.
Picture quality was great, too, with superb sharpness even on the large projection screen.
The sound quality was excellent via HDMI, but limited, because some Blu-ray discs have DTS-HD Master Audio but this could only be output as standard DTS. The player supports the brilliant Dolby Digital True-HD sound standard as well, but I haven’t yet been able to find a Blu-ray disc which uses this.
The 24 frames per second performance of the Pioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray player is alone enough to justify its purchase. On top of that is its excellent warranty, ability to play files from your computer, and its great overall performance.