With every manufacturer adding bells and whistles to try to make its Blu-ray player stand out from the crowd, the LG BD670's no-frills approach ironically is what stands out. Instead of adding features of dubious worth (2D-to-3D conversion, cross-platform search that doesn't work), the BD670 relies on a simple formula for success: built-in Wi-Fi, lots of high-quality streaming-media services--including standouts like Amazon Instant, MLB.TV, MOG, and Napster--and a clean, simple user interface. Its basic approach makes it one of our favorite Blu-ray players of the year, neck and neck with the Panasonic DMP-BDT210. Overall, the Panasonic has a slight edge with its faster disc-loading speeds and nifty touch-free disc tray, but the LG is definitely worth considering with its slightly superior selection of streaming-media services. If you're going to use those additional streaming services, go with the BD670; otherwise stick with the DMP-BDT210 and its faster speed.
The BD670 doesn't have any design flourishes, looking simply like a thin, glossy black box. There's a standard disc tray slot as opposed to the slot-loading design on some Samsung players. There are also physical buttons, rather than touch-sensitive buttons, which is a plus in our book. We like the LG BD670's nondescript look, but if you prefer something flashier, try Samsung.
The remote included with the BD670 is laid out well, but it has its flaws. The major shortcoming is the lack of a direct button for launching LG's streaming-media content portal. A Netflix button, as on Samsung and Panasonic players, would have been even better. At least LG makes it relatively easy to access its streaming services via its user interface.
Like most Blu-ray players this year, the LG BD670 can also be controlled via smartphone using LG's Remote application, available for both Android and iOS. The app works well enough, but you can't use it to input text in the Netflix and Pandora interfaces, which is when it's most painful to use the standard remote.
Despite the simple layout of the home apps page, the Premium and LG Apps icons aren't as straightforward as you'd think. Premium brings you to LG's full suite of streaming-media services (Netflix, Pandora, and so on), while LG Apps brings you to an app store that carries five completely underwhelming programs. So, basically, when you want to access apps you might actually use, don't select LG Apps.
Once you get into the streaming-content portal, the interface is dead simple. Unlike Samsung's cluttered Smart Hub interface, LG's streaming-content home screen has big icons for the various services. It's the best interface we've seen for streaming content on a Blu-ray player in 2011, mainly because it's easy to quickly get to the streaming service of your choice.
LG Apps is new for this year, but as of now, it's not a useful feature. There are currently only five apps available, with the most interesting being Boing Boing Video. Until we see more apps being developed for the platform, we wouldn't factor this into a buying decision at all.
Overall, we definitely prefer the simple approach to streaming-media services offered by LG over the more involved content portals from Samsung and Sony. Check out our full review of LG Smart TV for more information and comparisons of the content portals offered on Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony Blu-ray players.
|3D Blu-ray||Yes||Onboard memory||No|
The LG BD670 has a few premium features (built-in Wi-Fi, 3D Blu-ray support, smartphone control), but it doesn't have 2D-to-3D conversion or onboard memory. We wouldn't worry about missing either of those. In our opinion, 2D-to-3D conversion is little more than a gimmick, and onboard memory is only used for BD-Live features, which we never find ourselves using.
Like most players in its price class, the BD670 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 7. Note that M4V files (without DRM) can be played off a USB drive, but not via DLNA. While we were successfully 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 opinions on CNET and elsewhere to see how a player performs in real-world scenarios.
|Other: MOG, Gracenote MusicID|
Smart TV, LG's selection of streaming-media services, is the best we've seen so far overall. While it's not quite as comprehensive as what Samsung and Sony offer, it covers all of the standard services you'd expect (Netflix, Pandora, YouTube), plus a very solid offering of standout extras, such Amazon Instant Streaming, MLB.TV, Napster, MOG, and vTuner. The big missing service is Hulu Plus, which is offered on Samsung and Sony.
Amazon Instant Streaming is our favorite extra, especially for cord-cutters without cable. While competing services like Vudu are a compelling alternative for 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|
|USB ports||1||SD card slot||No|
The LG BD670 has the standard assortment of ports you find on most Blu-ray players. Note that while the BD670 does have a component video output, it's limited to 480i resolution, because of annoying AACS rules.
|Blu-ray disc load times and player speed|
|Average seconds||Composite score|
|Disc loading||46.54||Disc loading||88|
|CNET speed rating||93|
|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.|
The BD670 has a CNET speed rating of 93, which means it's a bit slower than an average 2011 midrange Blu-ray player. The main factor holding its speed rating back is its relatively slow disc load times; the notoriously slow "Pirates of the Caribbean" took over 95 seconds to get to the actual movie.
The other speed scores are almost exactly average, including Netflix loading times and navigation speed. Though the BD670 wouldn't be our first choice if speed was a big priority, most people won't notice the difference between it and other players.
If you're interested in all the details about the LG BD670's speed compared with other 2011 players, check out our full 2011 Blu-ray player comparison chart and scroll down to the load times section.
We put the LG BD670 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 between players, especially on the Blu-ray side, are minute at most, and 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 may be worth shelling out for a reference-level Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP-93.
If you're into 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.
|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 BD670 fails 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.
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 BD670 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.
|Video resolution||Fail||'Star Trek: Insurrection'||Pass|
|Text overlay on film||Pass||'Invite Them Up'||Pass|
DVD performance on the BD670 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.
Despite disc-loading speeds that are just average, the LG BD670's built-in Wi-Fi and excellent streaming-media suite make it one of the best Blu-ray player values.