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LG BD590 - Blu-ray disc player / digital multimedia receiver / HDD recorder review: LG BD590 - Blu-ray disc player / digital multimedia receiver / HDD recorder

LG BD590 - Blu-ray disc player / digital multimedia receiver / HDD recorder

Matthew Moskovciak
Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
8 min read


LG BD590 - Blu-ray disc player / digital multimedia receiver / HDD recorder

The Good

Excellent Blu-ray image quality; rips CDs directly to built-in 250GB hard drive; Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, and CinemaNow streaming; built-in Wi-Fi; plays music, videos, and pictures off a connected USB drive or via network.

The Bad

Does not support 3D Blu-ray; no quick-start mode, which makes it feel slower compared with some other players; media interface is overdesigned; must change the output mode to 1080p.

The Bottom Line

The LG BD590 deftly handles Blu-ray playback, CD ripping, and streaming media services like Netflix from a single box, but you'll have to pay for that simplicity.

LG has consistently been ahead of the pack when it comes to new Blu-ray features, which is why it was a surprise at CES 2010 when nearly every manufacturer announced a 3D Blu-ray player--except LG. Instead, the company went in a completely different direction with its flagship model, the BD590, which includes a built-in hard drive for CD ripping.

Though 3D might get all the hype, we think LG's strategy makes a lot of sense. We're not expecting more than a handful of 3D Blu-ray titles in 2010, whereas CD ripping is a feature that buyers can actually use a lot this year. The BD590 also includes all the features of the step-down BD570, including built-in Wi-Fi, Netcast streaming media (Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, CinemaNow), and excellent Blu-ray image quality. The biggest knock against the BD590 is its price ($380 street)--$130 more than the BD570, which is basically the same, minus the hard drive. At that price takers will be limited, but the LG BD590 is an excellent all-in-one solution for those willing to pay for it.

The BD590 takes its design cues from its predecessor, the BD390, but it's a slightly slimmer, less bulky unit, despite the fact that it includes a hard drive. 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.

The LGBD590, with the front panel flipped down.
You'll need to flip down the front panel to access the BD590's playback controls and USB port.

Under the front panel rest a few playback buttons (including handy chapter forward/backward buttons) and a USB port. Of course, if you plan on keeping a USB drive in the port, you'll have to leave the front panel down, which is considerably less slick-looking. The power and eject buttons are placed toward the top and are always accessible.

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

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," replaced by 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.

LG BD590 user interface
We prefer LG's old interface, but the new one is good enough.

LG BD590's Netcast user interface
The Netcast user interface is more straightforward.

Netcast is the name of LG's suite of media-streaming services, and luckily, once you enter the Netcast section, the floating cubes give way to large tiles with the names of services. LG's lineup of services is impressive, including Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, YouTube, Pandora, Picasa, and AccuWeather.

CD archiving
The most interesting feature on the BD590 is its ability to rip CDs directly to the hard drive. To test it out, we ripped about 25 CDs and the process was about as easy as it gets. Pop in a CD and the BD590 starts playing it right away, immediately downloading metadata (artist, album, title, and track number/order) from the Gracenote service. We found Gracenote to be near-flawless with its automatic tagging and we purposefully tried some obscure titles.

Pressing the info button brings up the option to "archive" the CD, then you select your tracks, your bit rate (128, 192, 320Kbps, or Lossless). We really appreciate the lossless option, as most people have small enough CD collections that there's no need to sacrifice any audio quality. 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.

LG BD590 user interface
We loved that LG included the option to rip our CDs in a lossless format, letting you enjoy the same CD-quality sound without fumbling for the discs.

LG BD590 user interface
Music organization certainly isn't the best we've seen, but it gets the job done.

After you're done ripping, your music is accessible by selecting the music option on the main menu, then selecting HDD. Call us old-fashioned, but it was nice knowing that our music would play right off a local hard disk rather than stream over a network that's subject to buffering or dropouts. We had plenty of nitpicks with the user interface for navigating our ripped music and would have preferred more options to customize how our music collection is handled, but all told it's easy to find your tunes.

If you've already ripped your music collection to a PC, it's also possible to copy your digital music from a networked PC to the LG. If you just want to import all your music at once, you can filter by "all music," then select all and copy your files over. You can also copy music on an album-by-album basis. It's a nice option if you don't want to rerip your music.

Of course, true digital audio fans are better off with a dedicated network-music-streaming device like a Squeezebox or Sonos, but the real appeal of the BD590's CD ripping is for buyers who are less tech-savvy and will appreciate how easy the BD590 makes ripping your CD collection. It's also worth pointing out that CD ripping is one of the many functions of the PS3 Slim, if you're comfortable using a game console for your media playback.


"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key Blu-ray features
3D Blu-ray No Onboard memory 250GB
Wi-Fi 802.11n Blu-ray profile 2.0

The BD590 has built-in Wireless-N networking, but so do competing 2010 players like the Sony BDP-S570, the Samsung BD-C6500, the Toshiba BDX2700, and the Insignia NS-WBRDVD. However, Panasonic's DMP-BD85 still requires a separate USB adapter.

According to LG, the BD590 is not upgradeable to support 3D Blu-ray playback. Though we were somewhat willing to let that slide on the step-down BD570, it's a more conspicuous missing feature on the more expensive BD590. Similarly-priced players from Samsung, LG, and Sony all offer 3D compatibility, but of course lack the CD archiving functionality. Essentially, choosing the BD590 means you're trading 3D playback for the built-in CD archiving feature. We have not had a chance to test any 3D Blu-ray products yet, but the cost of fully upgrading your home theater to 3D (new Blu-ray player, HDTV, and AV receiver) and the dearth of 3D media in 2010 means the 3D playback on a Blu-ray player will be expensive and limited in the short term.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming media features
Netflix Yes YouTube Yes
Amazon VOD No Pandora Yes
Vudu Yes Slacker No
CinemaNow Yes Picasa/Flickr Picasa
DLNA compliant Yes Weather Yes

Online streaming media services continue to be a major strength for LG's Blu-ray lineup. The BD590 includes the same Netcast features as it did last year--like Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora--but also adds Vudu, Picasa, and weather. Vudu is the major addition, as it adds a pay-per-view movie-watching option to supplement Netflix's subscription offerings. We consider Vudu to be a worthy alternative to Amazon Video on Demand (which some competing players also offer) and Vudu's HDX streaming titles look surprisingly close to an actual Blu-ray title. Another slight advantage is that the BD590's built-in hard drive allows you to store purchased Vudu movies locally; considering the high pricing of Vudu movies to purchase, this isn't a big plus.

The BD590 is also DLNA compliant and capable of streaming video, audio, and photo files from a network-connected PC or viewing them from USB drive. The full list of supported formats are available on the specifications portion of LG's Web site. We had no trouble playing a couple MKV and DivX HD files off an attached USB drive; however, like last year's BD390, MKV files won't stream over the network. LG includes Nero's MediaHome 4 Essential software, which worked well. We were also able to use the built-in media server in Windows Media Player, after turning the sharing options on.

We mentioned before that it's possible to copy music stored on your PC to the BD590's HDD over the network; it also works for photo and movie files. We couldn't find a way to directly transfer files from the BD590's hard drive to a PC over the network, but you can transfer files to a connected USB drive. (In case you're wondering, lossless audio files are stored in WAV format.) In all, the BD590 was considerably more flexible than we were expecting, although power users will find nits to pick with its limitations.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Audio decoding capabilities
Dolby TrueHD Yes DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
Dolby Digital Plus Yes DTS-HD HR Yes
Bit stream output Yes SACD/DVD-Audio No

Like nearly every Blu-ray player available now, the BD590 offers onboard decoding for both high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. If you want to play SACD and DVD-Audio discs, you'll need to look to Oppo's players; Sony's BDP-S770 also offers SACD playback.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">AV outputs
HDMI version HDMI 1.3 Stereo analog Yes
Component video Yes Multichannel analog No
Composite video Yes Optical/coaxial Both

The BD590's AV output selection is standard. The only surprise is the lack of analog multichannel outputs, which were available on last year's BD390.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Other connectivity
Ethernet Yes SD card slot No
USB ports 1 RS-232 port No
Like virtually every other player, the BD590 also includes an Ethernet port if you prefer the stability of a wired connection. We would have liked to have seen an additional USB port on the back panel, like on the Sony BDP-S570 and Oppo BDP-80, but it's a minor quibble.

Blu-ray image quality
Overall, we were impressed with the BD590's Blu-ray image quality, as it passed all of the most important test patterns and program material tests. As usual, the most-dedicated videophiles will still prefer the very slightly better Blu-ray image quality of the Oppo BDP-83, but the vast majority of high-definition movie fans will be perfectly satisfied with the BD590's Blu-ray image quality.

All our testing was conducted via HDMI at 1080p/60, with the Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8 display and Oppo BDP-83 and Sony BDP-S570 for comparison. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our full guide to how we test Blu-ray players. Home theater enthusiasts can also see more-detailed testing results in our 2010 Blu-ray players comparison chart.

Editors' note: We found the Blu-ray and DVD image quality of the BD590 to be identical to the step-down BD570, therefore these sections are essentially the same.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray image quality: test patterns
Film resolution Pass Dynamic range high Pass
Video resolution Pass Dynamic range low Pass
Text overlay on film Fail Luma multiburst Pass
Cadence tests 1/8 Chroma multiburst Fail
Chroma bug test Pass

The BD590's performance on test patterns was largely solid. First off, it passed the two most important tests--the film and video resolution tests--that generally indicate the player will have no issues on the vast majority of Blu-ray titles. We did notice that the BD590 slipped a bit on the film resolution test, showing moire for a second, which is something we didn't see on our reference Oppo BDP-83. However, we didn't notice any issues in actual program material.

The tests the BD590 failed--text overlay, the majority of the cadence tests, and the chroma multiburst--are comparatively minor tests that don't have a major impact on image quality. In the text overlay test, though the text itself was free of artifacts, the video in the background suffered from comb-like shredding, visible on the top of the newspaper, and anytime one of the edges of any of the actors when they're in motion. However, the issue isn't visible with subtitles on standard Blu-ray movies like "Mission: Impossible III." Yes, the BD590 failed some of more esoteric cadence patterns, but we've seen almost no program material on Blu-ray using those cadences, so we don't consider that test very important.

The LG BD590 also failed the chroma multiburst, as the most detailed section of the test pattern was darker than the rest. However, we couldn't notice any difference resolution or color in actual program material, so it's hard to ascribe much to the BD590 failing this test. Videophiles may also be interested to know that the BD590 does clip whites in "standard" mode, but movie mode passes all "whiter-than-white" signals without a problem.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray image quality: program material
"Ghost Rider" Pass "Tony Bennett" Pass
"Mission: Impossible III" Pass "NIN Live; Chapter 3" Pass
"Sunshine" Pass "NIN Live; Chapter 4" Pass

The BD590 passed all our Blu-ray program material tests, giving it an edge over the competing Sony BDP-S570, which had some trouble with the video-based "Tony Bennett: American Classic" disc. However, the image quality difference between the two players isn't that large, as most movies are film-based and look nearly identical. We thought the difference between the BD590 and the Oppo BDP-83 was even smaller.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray operational speed (in seconds)
"Mission: Impossible III" | player on 13.87 "POTC" | until movie 87.30
"Mission: Impossible III" | player off | quick start n/a "Spider-Man 3" | until movie 71.67
"Mission: Impossible III" | player off | no quick start 27.28 "Sunshine" | chapter skip 12.72
"POTC" | past loading 30.88 CNET speed rating (composite score) 85

CNET speed rating (composite score)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
LG BD590

As we saw with the step-down BD570, LG's new Blu-ray players are a little slower than last year's fastest Blu-ray player, the Oppo BDP-83. The CNET speed rating of 85 gives it the edge over noticeably slow players like the Vizio VBR200W, but it does feel a step behind the lightning-fast Sony BDP-S570. In typical use, the BD590 feels plenty fast enough, but it's not a standout speed-demon like last year's BD390.

There have been many reports online about playback problems on movies like "Up" and "Terminator: Salvation", and we've been able to confirm the issues on those movies, but only in 1080p/24 mode. Since the movies play fine in 1080p/60 mode and LG has stated it's working on a fix, we don't consider it a major issue, although we'll continue to monitor user feedback. For more information, see our blog on the issue.

DVD performance

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">DVD image quality: Test patterns and program material
Film resolution Pass "Seabiscuit" Pass
Video resolution Fail "Star Trek: Insurrection" Pass
Text overlay on film Fail "Invite Them Up" Pass
Cadence tests 2/8

The BD590 failed some of our standard test patterns, but we didn't notice major issues in any of our test patterns. It's worth pointing out that though the BD590 did technically pass the 2:2 resolution test, it took much longer than the Oppo for its processing to kick in and eliminate the moire. Again, we'd give it a slight nod over the Sony BDP-S570 for doing a better job handling niche video content, and pure videophiles will prefer the Oppo BDP-83 if DVD image quality is a high priority.

Streaming video image quality


LG BD590 - Blu-ray disc player / digital multimedia receiver / HDD recorder

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 8
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