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LG BD370 review: LG BD370

The BD370 has onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Essential. That means it can decode those soundtrack formats so they can be played back on almost every HDMI-capable AV receiver. Bitstream output is also supported, if you'd rather the decoding be done in your AV receiver. (DTS-HD Master Audio Essential differs from standard DTS-HD Master Audio in that it lacks decoding for a few legacy DTS DVD soundtracks formats such as DTS 96/24, ES, ES Matrix, and Neo:6. It still decodes all the high-resolution Blu-ray DTS soundtracks.)

All the standard connectivity is included, although we would have liked an additional USB port on the back.

Connectivity is standard. There's an HDMI port capable of outputting 1080p HD video, and high-resolution multichannel audio. Component video, which can output Blu-ray movies at 1080i and DVDs at 480p, is also available. For audio, there's a standard stereo analog output, and we were happy to see that the BD370 includes both optical and coaxial digital-audio outputs--most players have cut down to just optical. There's also a USB port on the front panel and an Ethernet port on the back, but there's no Wi-Fi option, like the Samsung BD-P1600 offers.

If you're looking for more features, you'll need to step up to the LG BD390, which offers built-in Wi-Fi, 1GB of onboard memory, and 7.1 analog audio outputs. The competing Samsung BD-P3600 has a similar feature set, including an included Wi-Fi dongle, 1GB onboard memory, 7.1 analog audio outputs, plus superfast operational speed.

Blu-ray performance
While the video quality on many high-end Blu-ray players is becoming virtually indistinguishable, there is still some variation among entry-level models. We put the LG BD370 through our full suite of high-def image quality tests, starting off with Silicon Optix's "HQV" test suite, with the BD370 connected to the Sony KDL-52XBR7 via HDMI, set to 1080p output.

The first test we looked at was the Video Resolution Loss test, and the BD370 failed, as there were clearly jaggies on the rotating white bar and all we could see was a gray box where there should have been alternating white and black lines. Next up were a pair of video-based jaggies tests, and again the BD370 came up short, as we could see jaggies on both of these test patterns. The BD370 also failed the final Film Resolution Loss Test, with the same behavior observed in the Video Resolution Loss test. That compares unfavorably with all the recent entry-level Blu-ray players we've reviewed, such as the Panasonic DMP-BD60 and Samsung BD-P1600, which passed all these tests.

We switched over to program material and the BD370 fared better. "Mission: Impossible III" was up first, and it handled our favorite test scenes, showing no moiré in the stairs at the beginning of chapter 8 and no jaggies on the trimming of the limo on chapter 16. We switched to "Ghost Rider," and the BD370 performed well again, as we couldn't make out any moiré in the grille of the RV as the camera pulled away at the end of chapter 6. Last up was the video-based (and 1080i native) "Tony Bennett: American Classic," and here the BD370 stumbled, as we could see plenty of jaggies on the clapperboard at the beginning of the Diana Krall segment, as well as later on in the dancer's shirts.

It's worth pointing out that these issues only occur when you the BD370 is set in 1080p, with 24-frames-per-second mode disabled. We test in this mode because it's the most common format accepted correctly by the majority of TVs; however, if your HDTV can accept a 1080p/24 signal, the BD370 puts out pristine image quality.

The BD370 may not have the best video quality in this price range, but it fares better when it comes to load times. It was able to load "Mission: Impossible III" in 14 seconds with the player on, and in 28 seconds with the player off. That's actually better than both the Panasonic DMP-BD60 and Samsung BD-P1600, which took 21 and 16 seconds, respectively, to load the movie with the players on. The BD370 wasn't quite as quick to load movies featuring more extensive menu systems. It took a minute and 26 seconds to get to the actual movie on "Spider-Man 3," for example; that's about as fast as the Panasonic DMP-BD60 and considerably slower than the BD-P1600, which took a minute and 7 seconds.

Standard DVD performance
The catalog of available DVDs still dwarfs the Blu-ray, so we put the BD370 through our DVD testing suite. First up was the Silicon Optix's "HQV" test disc, and the BD370 performed well on the initial resolution test, showing all the detail on the test pattern without any image instability. The BD370 struggled with the next two video-based jaggies tests, particularly on the test pattern showing three pivoting lines. Finally, we looked at the 2:3 pull-down test, which the BD370 passed, showing no moiré in the grandstands as the race speeds by.

We switched over to program material and started off with the opening to "Star Trek: Insurrection." The BD370 looked good, with its 2:3 processing successfully rendering curved surfaces, although fine details looked softer than we're used to. Next up was the difficult intro sequence to "Seabiscuit," and we could see more jaggies than we'd like; occasionally we even noticed a particularly annoying shimmering effect that occurred at 2:05 and 2:22. The BD370 isn't necessarily bad at DVD playback, but videophiles might notice its limitations.

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