LG BD590: initial hands-on

LG announced its new Blu-ray lineup just more than 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, while the BD570 is the more direct successor to the popular (and well-reviewed) BD390.
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LG BD590

According to LG, the BD570 and 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 exterior design and revamped user interface.
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Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:

Front panel

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.
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Flip-down panel

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.
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Front panel buttons

Under the front panel lives a few playback buttons (including handy chapter forward/backward buttons) and a USB port.
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Front view, with panel down

Of course, if you plan on keeping a USB drive in port, you'll have to leave the front panel down, which is considerably less slick looking.
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Logos

The BD590 sports more logos than most players, showing off functionality that includes built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA-compatibility, and a built-in 250G hard drive.
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New user interface

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. Gone are the simple squares with straightforward labels like "My Media" and "Netflix," and replaced them with floating ice cubes with more ambiguous titles like "Home Link" and "Netcast." We really don't get the point of new interface and how it makes the BD590 easier to use; it doesn't look cool to us and it seems to slow down navigation. That being said, the new interface isn't bad, we just preferred the old one.
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Netcast

Netcast is the name of LG's suite of media streaming services. LG's lineup of services is impressive, including Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, YouTube, Pandora, Picasa, and AccuWeather.
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Vudu

Another advantage of the BD590's built-in hard drive is that it enables download and playback of Vudu high-definition HDX files, like on the standalone Vudu box. We haven't tested this feature yet (we will for the full review), but our prior experience with HDX has been very positive.
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YouTube

LG's YouTube interface is one of the better ones we've seen.
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Rip music the hard drive

The most interesting new feature on the BD590 is its capability to rip CDs directly to the hard drive. Our initial tests with about 20 CDs, and so far has been really satisfying.
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Automatically grabs data from Gracenote

Pop in a CD and the BD590 starts playing it right away and immediately downloads metadata from the Gracenote service.
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Choose your bitrate

Pressing the info button brings up the option to "archive" the CD, then you select your tracks, your bitrate (128, 192, 320kbps, or Lossless). Even better, the BD590 lets you to continue to listen to the CD while it rips, which takes a lot of the pain out of the process of ripping your music collection
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Browse your collection

Sure, you can stream your music of your computer with a network music streaming like a Squeezebox, but this seems an even more hassle-free solution, especially for those that aren't tech-savvy.
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Side view

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Back panel

The BD590 includes the standard assortment of Blu-ray outputs, but most users will use HDMI for both audio and video.
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No 7.1 analog outputs

Unlike last year's BD390, the BD590 lacks 7.1 analog outputs.
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Detachable power cord

The BD590 features a detachable power cord (the step-down BD570 does not), which makes it slightly easier to pull in and out of your home theater stack.
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Remote

The included remote control is a complete redesign over last year's clicker. The main surface is glossy black, which looks sleek coming out of the box, but, being a remote, it 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.
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LG BD570

We've also received a review sample of LG's BD570, which includes much of the same functionality as the step-up BD590, minus the hard drive and music ripping. We haven't had much hands-on time with it yet, but we took a full suite of photos.
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Front view

The BD570 is much slimmer than last year's BD390.
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Flip-down panel

The BD570 also features a flip-down panel; that and its new slim profile remind us of the Samsung BD-P1600.
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Like on the BD590, much of the styling is lost when the panel is flipped down.
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Front panel buttons

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Top buttons

The power and eject buttons are located on the top of BD570, right above the logo.
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Logos

The BD570 isn't as feature-rich as the step-up BD570, but it can still handle DivX HD playback.
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Side view

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Back panel

The BD570's back panel is virtually identical to the BD590's.
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Connectivity

There's the standard assortment of outputs, but it's best to stick with HDMI for both audio and video.
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Remote

The BD570 features a similar redesigned remote to the BD590.
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