It's taken JVC quite some time to hit us with a Blu-ray player, but we have to say, now it's producing one, we're actually quite impressed. What's interesting about the NX-BD3 is that it's a 2.1 system as well, which is a superb idea -- people who want great-looking movies usually hanker for beefier sound too.
Although this is only a 2.1 system, featuring two compact stereo speakers and a chunky subwoofer, JVC has developed some technology that should create a virtual surround-sound system. This works by having two speaker cones with different material thicknesses. Those differences mean some sounds can be delayed, and thus create a surround-sound effect. We don't know how effective this will be, but the 2.1 speakers will certainly be a massive improvement over your telly on its own.
You also get the benefit of K2, a sound-processing mode which JVC claims will upscale MP3s to CD quality and bump CDs up to DVD Audio levels. Of course, we'll be stroking sceptical cat until we run our own tests, but it's a lovely idea.
There are other tricks up the BD3's sleeve too. It can play DivX from DVDs, and there's also a network feature, which enables you to stream AVCHD and MPEG-2 HD content over your home network onto your TV. That's especially handy if you have a camcorder that records in AVCHD, or if you've got HD material in the MPEG-2 format from European satellite channels.
There is one obvious chink in the NX-BD3's armour though: despite its ability to stream media over a network and play DivX from a DVD, it can't play DivX over the network. Come on JVC, what are you thinking? We hate oversights like this, and while we're sure this will be a worthy Blu-ray player, we can't help but lament the lack of such a cool feature.
We're extra keen to get our hands on one of these, but they're a little way off being available to buy yet. There's also no price available, but we're going to estimate it will land somewhere around the £700 mark. Too expensive for many, but still a great solution for those who want to use JVC's advanced networking gubbins and an included speaker system. -Ian Morris