Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD Blu-ray Player Comparisons & Conclusion
The PS3 beats all other players in responsiveness, and it puts out an impressive 1080p/24 picture, but it isn't a perfect player. It doesn't have the hardware to support bitstream output, it's incompatible with IR remotes without buying additional equipment, and it doesn't have analog outputs for legacy equipment owners. But at a price of $399, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
The BDP-05FD has a lot going for it in the specs department, even though it's only BonusView complaint. For $300 less, the Panasonic DMP-BD50 conforms to BD-Live, it decodes both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA, and it's more reliable for disc playback. However, it only sports 5.1 analog outputs. Any day now, I'm expecting to get the new Panasonic BD55, which has all of the above specifications and adds 7.1 analog outputs at an attractive price of $399.
I really wanted to like the Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD, but it was just too unreliable, from lip-sync issues to player lockups. It's impressive in the rack with its sturdy build quality and glossy black façade, but looks aren't everything. Future firmware upgrades should improve the shortcomings I've noted, but with a premium price of $800, the BDP-05FD should deliver a first-class experience—unfortunately, it doesn't with the current firmware.
Excellent build quality
Capable of sending Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams
7.1 analog outputs
Stability issues with Blu-ray playback
Poor DVD performance
On November 13, 2008, Pioneer released a new version of the BDP-05 firmware (version 1.17), which you can get by clicking here. According to the company, the new firmware includes the following updates:
I installed the new firmware and ran some problem discs through the player to see if it improved some of the shortcomings noted in my review. The player lock-ups that plagued firmware 1.07 with discs such as Saving Sarah Marshall and The 40-Year Old Virgin are absent with 1.17. Also, the lip-sync errors in the bonus features on Blu-ray discs has been alleviated.
I ran through my speed tests with Ratatouille, and there was no change in the "power on" and "disc insertion to first picture" times, but the "top menu to menu screen" time went from 23 to 17 secondsa 25-percent improvement! Loading bonus features on BD-Live discs is still on the slow side, especially compared to the PS3, but it's acceptable compared with other Blu-ray players I've tested.
The DVD layer change on Star Wars Episode II has improved slightly from 4 to 3 seconds, which is still unacceptable. On the plus side, the painfully slow menu response has been fixed, and disc interaction while in the menus is much faster.
It looks like Pioneer took note of the issues I raised in my initial review of the BDP-05FD and fixed the unreliability issues. Early next year, the company plans an update to add internal DTS-HD Master Audio decodingwhen that's accomplished, this will be one of the top Profile 1.1 players on the market with its superior build quality and impressive features.