Disc compatibility issues have plagued Blu-ray since the format came out. At first, we figured it was part of Blu-ray's growing pains and would eventually go away, like the annoying confusion about Blu-ray profiles. However, disc compatibility issues have persisted and manufacturers regularly have to issue firmware updates for their players when certain movies won't play.
We recently posted a review for the LG BD570 and shortly afterward we saw several user opinions complaining about playback issues on "Up"--primarily, the movie skipping ahead at 1:03. That's frustrating for us; "Up" wasn't a disc we looked at during our tests, but obviously glitchy playback is a serious issue. Our review of the BD590 is also coming soon, so we wanted to investigate.
We contacted LG about the issue (they're looking into it) and rush ordered a copy of "Up." The first time we tried to load "Up" on the BD590, the player froze and we were forced to power it off. But after that, to our surprise, the movie played fine on both the LG BD570 and BD590 on several attempts, with no chapter skips around 1:03. (We had no issues with "Terminator: Salvation," either, another disc that some found problematic.)
Considering the initial freeze-up was the only time that happened during our testing period with the BD590, it's hard to consider it a major flaw. We don't doubt that people are having trouble with playback issues, but since we don't have any firsthand evidence that the BD570/BD590 have significant playback or disc compatibility problems, we're not going to ding it in our review. … Read more
Last year's LG BD390 felt like the first Blu-ray player to really have it all, with built-in Wi-Fi, excellent streaming services, onboard storage, and 7.1 analog-audio outputs. The only drawback was its $400 list price, so it's good news to see its successor, the LG BD570, selling for as low as $250 online.
Aside from the price break, the BD570 hasn't changed much from the BD390. Yes, the BD570 doesn't have 7.1 analog-audio outputs, but it still includes NetCast streaming services--such as including Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, and Picasa--built-in Wi-Fi, and it has an … Read more
Panasonic has announced its first 3D TV bundle available exclusively at Best Buy stores, featuring a plasma TV and 3D-compatible Blu-ray player. The bundle will cost $2,900 for a 50-inch TC-P50VT20 TV (a $2,500 value by itself) and 3D-compatible DMP-BDT300 Blu-ray player ($400), and also include one pair of 3D glasses (model TY-EW3D10U, $149). The Panasonic bundle and TVs will be "sold exclusively at select Best Buy stores via Magnolia Home Theater," according to Panasonic. The 50-inch model will be followed by 54-, 58-, and 65-inch versions later this year, though pricing has yet to be determined.
If the TC-P50VT20 sounds different from the TC-P50VT25 model that was CNET's Best of CES pick earlier this year, that's because it is--albeit just slightly. The two models are nearly identical: the VT25 has minor external styling differences (different color bezel) and includes an RS232 port and ISF calibration mode not found on the Best Buy version, but it's slightly more expensive. (See an early hands-on evaluation here.)
To drum up excitement for the 3D launch, the companies held a joint press event at the Best Buy store in Manhattan's Union Square. Immediately following the press conference, the first bundle was sold to customers Brad and Ashley, a couple from Manhattan's Upper West Side. (The timing of the sale had been pre-arranged by Best Buy beforehand.) With New York sales tax, the total came to about $3,100. Immediately afterward, they were bombarded by questions and interviews from the large group of media who had shown up to document the event.
In the end, despite the hype, this wasn't the first 3D TV actually sold in 2010.… Read more
My expectations heading into the Panasonic press event on Wednesday in New York City were pretty low. I'm the audio guy and most of the hubbub was focused on new plasma and LCD displays, and Blu-ray players.
I sat there, eyes glazing over, as Panasonic spokespeople prattled on about "exciting" new advances in Viera Link and PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus technologies--good times for me! But then something amazing happened: they mentioned sound quality! Trust me, that doesn't happen very often at these things, so I was all ears.
First, the new DMP-BD85 Blu-ray player features an HDMI Jitter Purifier, which, according to Panasonic, "affords clear, robust bass sounds faithful to the original." That sounds like something the PR department dreamed up, but it may be useful. We'll see.
Then they said the DMP-BD85 uses a Digital Tube Sound Simulator to produce the warm sound quality associated with vacuum tube amplifiers! What? They even had a small plastic display box fitted with three small tubes to illustrate the concept. DMP-BD85 owners can select between the "sound" of three different tube effects over the HDMI and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs (or turn off the effect and hear unprocessed sound). They didn't mention it, but this sort of sonic enhancement probably won't be compatible with Dolby or DTS soundtracks. That leaves DVDs, Blu-rays, and CDs encoded with PCM audio.… Read more
LG announced its new Blu-ray lineup just over a month ago at CES 2010, so we were shocked to hear we'd be getting review units in early February. The BD590 took home the Best of CES 2010 award in the home theater category for its built-in 250GB hard drive and CD-ripping functionality, and the BD570 is the more direct successor to the popular (and well-reviewed) BD390. LG says the BD570 and the BD590 will be coming in mid-March with list prices of $280 and $380, respectively. We'll be doing in-depth reviews with both of these products over the next few weeks, but we wrote up our initial impressions of the BD590's exterior design and revamped user interface.
Design The BD590 takes its design cues from its predecessor, but it's a slightly slimmer, less bulky unit, despite the fact that it includes a hard drive. The front is dominated by a long glossy panel that automatically flips down when the disc tray is ejected. We're not big fans of flip-down panels--they seem like one more thing that can break down the road--but it does keep the unit looking sleek.
Under the front panel reveals a few playback buttons (including handy chapter forward/backward buttons) and a USB port. Of course, if you plan on keeping a USB drive in the port, you'll have to leave the front panel down, which is considerably less slick-looking. The power and eject buttons are toward the top and are always accessible.
The included remote is a complete redesign of last year's clicker. The main surface is glossy black, which looks sleek coming out of the box but, being a remote, naturally accumulates fingerprints quickly. Button layout is mostly straightforward. Playback controls have a "hill" that runs underneath, making it easy to find by feel; there are also nubs on the rewind/fast-forward button. The main directional pad is surrounded by six buttons, which is a little more cluttered than most Blu-ray remotes we use, but we didn't find it that troublesome in use. Along the bottom are a few buttons for controlling a TV.
We loved the dead-simple user interface on last year's BD390, so we were a little dismayed to see that LG has done a complete overhaul.… Read more
Product reviewers at CNET generally don't cover disputes between customers and Internet resellers, but a recent case revealed a new sales policy we've never seen before.
On January 26, we received an e-mail from a reader complaining about the sales policy of online reseller Home and Garden Surplus. He had ordered the LG BD390, but received an LG BD370, a step-down model with a list price $100 cheaper. The reader stated that when he complained about the switch, Home and Garden Surplus explained that its policy allowed it to make a substitution.
We're not shocked that a company would switch a product with one of a lower value--we hear reports of it all the time--but we were surprised to see that Home and Garden Surplus was actually telling the truth about its policy. On the product page for the LG BD390, it does state that the company may switch a BD370 for a BD390, although it's buried at the end of a long list of specs and there's not even a line break to separate it from the previous bullet point.
The reader who contacted us isn't the only one who's taken issue with the policy. … Read more
A sub-$100 Blu-ray player is no big deal these days, but it's still fairly rare to find one that offers BD-Live at that price point--especially a Sony model.
Last month, SonyStyle offered the refurbished BDP-S360 Blu-ray player for $99.99 shipped (plus sales tax where applicable). I'm happy to report that the deal is back.
Happy, but not ecstatic. See, I now think if you're going to buy a Blu-ray player, you should get a model that can stream Netflix movies. This one can't.
Also, because it's a refurb, the warranty expires after 90 … Read more
LAS VEGAS--We don't see many home theater AV receivers at CES, with home audio manufacturers generally waiting for their own line shows to release new product lines. However, most AV receivers don't have Blu-ray players built-in.
Denon has announced the S-5BD AV receiver/Blu-ray Disc player combo unit at CES 2010, melding the two components into a sleek, glossy package. Here's the initial info from the news release.
Key features of the Denon S-5BD:Blu-ray player and AV receiver combo unit 5.1 AV receiver 2-zone, 2 source capability 3 HDMI 1.4 inputs Dolby Pro Logic IIz … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Panasonic fell a little behind in the Blu-ray features wars last year, with the company's players lacking Wi-Fi, Netflix streaming, and onboard storage, which were available on competing players. At CES 2010, Panasonic introduced three new mainstream Blu-ray players, the DMP-BD45, DMP-BD65 and DMP-BD85, that address some of these criticisms, although with some caveats.
Key features of the Panasonic DMP-BD45:PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus video processor SD card slot Lower power consumption--14 watts in usage, 0.1 watts in standby 14 second boot up time Limited to 5.1 audio decoding Available spring of 2010; no pricing … Read more