These might seem like nitpicks, but, again, this isn't a product suited to techies who will breeze by these hiccups. It's not hard to use, but less experienced people will likely still need a tutorial to learn how to use it.
|Key Blu-ray features|
|3D Blu-ray||Yes||Onboard memory||250GB|
The LG BD690 has a few premium features (built-in Wi-Fi, 3D Blu-ray support, smartphone control), but it doesn't have 2D-to-3D conversion. That's not a big loss to us, as 2D-to-3D conversion is little more than a gimmick. The BD690's 250GB of onboard storage can also be used for BD-Live functionality in addition to CD ripping.
Like most players in its price class, the BD690 is DLNA-compatible, which means you can stream digital media files over your home network using a DLNA server or off a connected USB drive. Supported file types include MKV, DivX, XviD, MP3, and JPEG. (A full list of supported file types is available in the user manual, on page 10.) Note that M4V files (without DRM) can be played off a USB drive, but not via DLNA. While we were able to play back our suite of test files, digital media files have tons of variation in how they're encoded, so your results may differ. If digital media playback is important to you, we'd recommend looking through user comments on CNET and elsewhere to see how a player performs in real-world scenarios.
|Other: MOG, Gracenote MusicID|
LG's selection of streaming-media services, dubbed Smart TV, is the best we've seen so far. Since the beginning of 2011, LG has added Amazon Instant, MOG, and Hulu Plus to its already solid set of services, including Netflix, Pandora, MLB.TV, YouTube, vTuner and Napster. Sony is the only competitor that comes close, but its collection of services is hampered by a lackluster user interface.
Amazon Instant streaming is our favorite extra, especially for. While services like Vudu are a compelling alternative source of video-on-demand movies, Amazon Instant offers by far the largest selection of TV shows for pay-per-view watching, including both network and cable shows.
Our extensive review of Smart TV includes a chart comparing the major manufacturers' services.
|HDMI outputs||Single||Analog outputs||Stereo|
|Component video output||Yes||Digital audio outputs||Optical and coaxial|
|USB ports||1||SD card slot||No|
The LG BD690 has the standard assortment of ports for a Blu-ray player, with the modest addition of including both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. Note that while the LG BD690 does have a component video output, it's limited to 480i resolution, due to annoying AACS rules.
Blu-ray disc load times and player speed
|Blu-ray disc load times and player speed|
|Average in seconds||Composite score|
|Disc loading||40.38||Disc loading||103|
|CNET speed rating||96|
|Higher composite scores indicate faster performance, with an average 2011 Blu-ray player having a composite score of 100. For more information, see our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The LG BD690 has a CNET speed rating of 96, which is just about average for a 2011 midrange Blu-ray player. It's not particularly fast or slow at anything, handling disc-loading, Netflix, and standard navigation tasks with close to average or just slightly slower speeds.
We should point out that we choose to leave quick-start modes on for our speed tests, which does use slightly more power when the player is turned off. If you opt to not use the quick-start mode, the BD690 has the slowest boot-up times we've seen this year, taking a full minute to boot up and load "Mission: Impossible III."
If you're interested in all the details about how the LG BD690 compares to other 2011 players in terms of speed, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the load times section.
We put the LG BD690 through our full battery of image-quality tests, but before we get to the results, let's be perfectly clear--we don't think most buyers should worry about image quality when deciding what Blu-ray player to buy. The differences, especially on the Blu-ray side, range from minute to nonexistent, and even DVD performance is very close between players. The only exception is for people with home theater projectors, who may actually see a difference on a 100-plus-inch screen. In that case, it could be worth shelling out for a reference-level Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP-93.
If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details about image quality, again, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart, and scroll down to the performance section. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our guide to how we test Blu-ray players.
|Blu-ray image quality: test patterns and program material|
|Film resolution||Pass||'Ghost Rider'||Pass|
|Video resolution||Pass||'Mission: Impossible III'||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Fail||'Sunshine'||Pass|
|Cadence tests||8/8||'Tony Bennett: An American Classic'||Fail|
|Chroma zone plate||Fail||'NIN Live: Beside You in Time'||Pass|
The LG BD690 failed a few of our image-quality tests, but overall it was an excellent performer. We noticed some "tearing" artifacts in "Tony Bennett: An American Classic," but they're in the background and very unlikely to be noticed unless you're specifically looking for flaws. Slightly more troubling is the fact that it failed the chroma zone plate test--indicating that it doesn't quite pass full chroma resolution--but we didn't notice any major differences in color when we looked at program material.
|Streaming-video image quality|
Though the image quality of Netflix streaming video varied a little bit last year between players, we haven't observed any differences so far this year. The BD690 provides the same Netflix image quality as other players, but remember streaming image quality varies a lot on a title-by-title basis, and also depends heavily on the quality of your broadband connection and home network.
|DVD image quality: Test patterns and program material|
|Video resolution||Fail||'Star Trek: Insurrection'||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Pass||'Invite Them Up'||Pass|
DVD performance on the BD690 was excellent, failing only one video-based test pattern. We wouldn't read too much into that--as we said, all the current players produce pretty similar results--but if you watch a lot of DVDs, it could be a tie-breaking factor.
The LG BD690 has a superb feature set and a unique CD-ripping capability, but it's expensive and a little more complicated to use than it needs to be.