Finally, Blu-ray players are coming of age. They've taken their sweet time, but we're now seeing players that will load a disc as fast as a DVD player, do all the things Blu-ray promised and don't cost a fortune. Pioneer embraced Blu-ray early on in the piece and recently announced two new machines including this latest entry-level player.
Design and features
The BDP-120 is noticeably slimmer than Pioneer's previous BD players at just 58mm. Its high gloss black finish (what else?) looks very sleek and there are minimal controls on the machine itself, so keep the remote control close by. Unfortunately, the tiny, centrally-placed display is all but useless unless you're looking at it straight on.
The player will do BD-Live (profile 2.0) and has on-board decoding for the current crop of HD audio formats, namely Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio. This means you don't need to do the decoding on-board your AV amplifier, which is good news if yours is a year or two old and doesn't have processing for these audio codecs.
There's a USB port for plugging in compatible flash memory to enable the BD-Live functionality; however, unlike in the US, where the player's supplied with a 1GB SanDisk USB flash drive, it's not being bundled with a device here in Australia. Pioneer is giving away free 8GB iPod Nanos though — the only catch is that you have to buy the BDP-120 and its VSX-919AH AV receiver together, but it's still a pretty sweet offer. Quick Start mode promises it can power up from standby in under one second, DVDs are upscaled to 1080p, the player can output bitstream audio through HDMI and Pioneer's not forgotten that some of us still play CD.