>> Hi, I'm Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor at CNET and we're here with the LG BD550. This is an entry-level Blu-ray player from LG and it's currently available for about $140 online. The design consists of a glossy, black front panel with the disc tray on the left, power and eject buttons in the middle and a flip down panel on the right. Under the flip down panel are a couple of playback controls and a USB port and that means if you put a drive in the USB port, you'll have to leave the panel down which takes away from the player's look. The user interface is redesigned from last year. The main screen has a floating ice cubes design which we found a little goofy and it felt like it slowed down the player a bit. Luckily, the netcast section is more straightforward and here you can access the BD550's suite of streaming media services which includes Netflix, Vudu, YouTube and Pandora. Now those streaming services are great, but the biggest omission from this player is the lack of built in Wi-Fi, which means you'll need to have an Ethernet connection in your living room if you want to take advantage of its streaming media services. There's also no DLNA compatibility on the BD550 so you can't stream music and photos from a network PC. And that's a feature that's available on entry-level Blu-ray players from Samsung and Sony. Around back is the player's connectivity. It's a standard collection of outputs including an HDMI output and a coaxial audio output. Blu-ray image quality was excellent overall, passing the most important test patterns and program material tests. In general, we don't find many significant differences in Blu-ray image quality between players so there's no reason to buy a more expensive player thinking you'll get better image quality. Our reference Blu-ray player, the Oppo BDP-83 did pass a few more test patterns and it did a better job with DVDs, but unless you're really picky about image quality, you're not going to see a difference. Operational speed is a strength for the BD550 with it loading discs a good deal faster than Samsung's comparable BDC5500 in our speed tests. While we have tested more expensive Blu-ray players that are faster, this is the fastest entry-level model that we've tested so far. So overall, while the LG BD550 is missing some features like built-in Wi-Fi, and DLNA compatibility, its quick load times, low price and generous suite of streaming media services make it a solid entry-level Blu-ray player pick. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, senior associate editor at CNET and this is the LG BD550.
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