Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 Blu-ray Disc Player Page 2

Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 Blu-ray Disc Player

The Short Form
Price $1,500 / pioneerelectronics.com / 800-421-1404
Snapshot
Pioneer's pricey Blu-ray Disc player is light on features but delivers superior picture quality.
Plus
•Top-of-class video performance •Wide range of custom picture adjustments •Crisp video upconversion of DVDs
Minus
•Expensive •Slow boot-up and disc loading •No built-in support for Dolby True HD or DTS-HD Master Audio formats •No audio CD playback •Soft picture via component-video output
Key Features
•1080p/24-fps video output •Ethernet output supports media streaming on home networks •6-channel analog audio output •HDMI and component-, composite-, and S-video outputs; optical and coaxial digital, 6-channel analog, and stereo analog audio outputs; Ethernet port •10.5 x 4.5 x 13.5 in; 10.5 lb
The BDP-HD1's back panel has a good supply of connections for plugging the player into your system. Along with its Ethernet and HDMI ports are component-, composite-, and S-video jacks, optical and coaxial digital audio ouputs, and both stereo and 5.1-channel analog audio outputs. The remote control lacks a backlit keypad, but the layout is clean, with buttons organized into logical groupings. Hitting the forward and reverse scan buttons lets you search discs at four different speeds, with the Scan 1 and 2 modes offering reasonably smooth playback. And the display button calls up not just chapter and time information but also a meter that ticks off a disc's variable data transfer rate in megabits per second.

SETUP Pioneer sent along its PRO-FHD1 50-inch plasma TV for me to use in testing the player. (Plugging this fantastic 1080p TV into my system once again was like welcoming back an old friend.) Initially, I used a direct HDMI and component-video connection to the TV for testing. Afterward, I routed the player's HDMI signal through an Anthem AVM 50 processor - a hookup that enabled me to hear the uncompressed 5.1-channel PCM audio tracks on select discs while simultaneously passing through the player's native 24-frame-per-second video signal on to the TV (yep, the Anthem lets you do all that).

For a disc player, Pioneer's machine has a relatively deep setup menu. An HDMI color space setting lets you choose between YCbCr (the normal setting for HDMI connections) or two different RGB options (useful if you're connecting to a computer monitor or HDTV with an RGB-capable DVI connection). There's also the optional 24p video output, Standard and Cinema picture presets, and a trio of Memory settings with Brightness, Contrast, and Color/Tint adjustments that you can customize and store for quick recall. Using the Memory controls, I was able to dig out the below-black bar on a PLUGE pattern from a test disc - an adjustment that helped me optimize the TV's black level.

PERFORMANCE Anyone who's been following the reviews of first-generation high-def disc players knows that, with the exception of Sony's speedy PS3, these beasts take a painfully long time to power up and load a disc. The Pioneer was no exception, clocking a full minute of boot-up time and another 30 seconds from disc insertion until a picture appeared on the screen. Wake me up when the movie starts!

Once the BDP-HD1 starting playing movies, however, the wait was well worth it. When I watched the Tim Burton-directed animation Corpse Bride, the picture was nothing short of breathtaking. The Pioneer combination's ultrasharp picture revealed fine details like the canvas texture of paintings and the subtle black-on-black pattern of wallpaper in the hallway of the Everglot family's drab Victorian mansion. Picture contrast was also remarkably good, with the omnipresent shadows in the film's various scenes looking deep, punchy, and detailed.

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