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Pioneer proffers another $1K Blu-ray

Pioneer's BDP-95FD Blu-ray player offers cutting-edge features but costs a cool grand.

Pioneer BDP-95FD
Pioneer BDP-95FD

The going rate for high-end, late-2007 Blu-ray players seems to have settled in at $1,000, with at least one exception, and Pioneer's latest, the BDP-95FD, follows that trend. The new player, expected to be available mid-October, replaces the company's BDP-94HD and BDP-HD1 players, offering the same 1080p/24 playback and Home Media Gallery, plus expanded support for high-resolution audio formats. Here's the nitty gritty:

Pioneer BDP-95FD's key features

  • 1080p output at 24 frames per second
  • Internal decoding of Dolby Digital Plus
  • Bitstream output for Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master
  • HDMI 1.3 output, with xvYCC support
  • Home Media Gallery video, audio, and photo streaming
  • Ethernet port
  • $1,000 list price, mid-October release date

People with brand-new AV receivers capable of internally decoding the new high-resolution audio formats Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master, like the Onkyo TX-SR605 and the Sony STR-DA5300ES, will probably want to know that the BDP-95FD will be, according to Pioneer, the first Blu-ray player to output both of those formats via bitstream. People with older receivers can take solace in the Pioneer's internal decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, allowing it to pass the audio via its 5.1-channel analog outputs or HDMI port (in PCM format) to any so-equipped receiver.

The Pioneer's Ethernet port, still somewhat of a rarity among Blu-ray players, serves a dual function: 1) possible firmware upgrades via the Internet and 2) the ability to grab digital photos, music, and videos from a networked PC and play them back on the TV and/or audio system. The second function is branded Home Media Gallery; check out the full review of the BDP-HD1 to see how the gallery stacks up.

With combo Blu-ray/HD DVD players such as the LG BH200 and the Samsung BD-UP5000 selling for around the same price, the BDP-95FD doesn't make much sense from an economic standpoint unless you really like the expanded audio support and home networking functionality. The latter feature can, of course, be had in other external units such as the Apple TV or the Netgear EVA8000.