Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Al Griffin Posted: Jan 18, 2017 10 comments

PRICE $600

High-quality upconversion of Blu-rays and DVDs
Effective detail enhancement and noise reduction
Full-featured remote control
Doesn’t support YouTube 4K video streaming
No Vudu app
No Dolby Vision disc support
Pricey next to competition

Panasonic’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player’s excellent performance and solid build quality make it an easy choice for enthusiasts.

Looking back at format launches over the past two decades, it becomes clear that most first-gen players were clunkers, and pricey ones at that. Dig deep through the Sound & Vision archives (on the web, or in your personal print library—you have one of those, right?), and you’ll unearth reviews of the first Blu-ray player, Samsung’s BDP-1000. Priced at $1,000, this ungainly machine took about one minute to load a disc, did quirky stuff (like first converting progressive-scan signals to an interlaced format before outputting them as 1080p), and delivered pictures that looked soft in comparison with those delivered by the HD-DVD format Blu-ray was aggressively warring with at the time.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 23, 2016 0 comments
PRICE $350

Excellent UHD performance
Solid build quality
Good value
Limited streaming apps
Less-than-perfect 4K upconversion

It’s not without minor flaws, but the second UHD Blu-ray player on the U.S. market delivers a stellar picture from UHD discs at an attractive price.

The launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray players has now progressed from a slow drip to a trickle. Samsung was first with the UBD-K8500 (reviewed in our June issue and also available at At CEDIA, Sony showed its upscale UBP-X1000ES but won’t have it out till next spring and hasn’t announced pricing. Oppo’s new player is expected sometime this fall. And Panasonic’s own high-end DMP-UB900, at $700, became available in late September as we were going to press (watch for a future review).

David Vaughn Posted: Nov 10, 2009 0 comments
Price: $399 At A Glance: Pioneer’s first BD-Live player • Exceptional video processing • Slow boot-up and disc loading, especially on Java-intensive discs

With a long history in optical disc technology, Pioneer has been slow to develop new and innovative features in its Blu-ray players. While its previous offerings have been on the upper end of the pricing range, the company’s players have left a lot to be desired. Last fall, I reviewed the Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD player for our sister publication, While I was very impressed by its sturdy build quality, it was unreliable, with lip-sync issues and player lockups. It also couldn’t internally decode DTS-HD Master Audio. Granted, a firmware upgrade eventually fixed most of these issues, but the DTS-HD Master Audio upgrade didn’t happen until early this summer—more than six months later than Pioneer promised. As a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, you’d expect Pioneer’s players to be among the most innovative on the market. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.

But that’s all in the past. The Pioneer BDP-320 brings a lot to the table at half the cost of the Elite branded BDP-05FD. The BDP-320 is BD-Live compliant and has 1 gigabyte of internal memory. Memory is also expandable via the USB port on the back of the player. The back panel includes one HDMI 1.3a output with support for 48-bit Deep Color (not supported by either DVD or Blu-ray), an Ethernet port, component output, and 7.1 analog audio for consumers with legacy equipment that lacks HDMI inputs.

Kris Deering Posted: Dec 15, 2008 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Slow disc loading and operation • Great build quality • Improved HD and SD video processing • Full 7.1 analog and digital audio support

Pioneer unveiled its first non-Elite Blu-ray player with the BDP-51FD. At first glance, its large chassis and high-gloss appearance might make you think it’s an Elite line player. However, this player is the first of the classic Pioneer line.

The BDP-51FD is a Profile 1.1 player that supports Bonus View features but lacks a LAN connection and BD-Live support. At $599, I was a bit surprised that it lacks BD-Live or an upgrade path to BD-Live, but the rest of the feature set is pretty impressive.

David Vaughn Posted: Oct 30, 2008 0 comments

Founded in 1938 in Tokyo, Japan, Pioneer has a long history of making quality audio and video products. Its involvement in optical-disc technology started with the development of Laserdisc and includes a prominent role in DVD and Blu-ray technology.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 14, 2011 2 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Solid build quality• Speedy loading • Plays SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu-ray 3D • Streams Netflix, Pandora • Possible connection issues

Pioneer’s involvement in optical-disc technology started with the development of Laserdisc late in the 20th century, and the company has continued the tradition with CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Surprisingly, despite the company’s background and solid history of new product development, it hasn’t been at the forefront of Blu-ray player innovation. The last player I reviewed from Pioneer was in 2009 (the BDP320). It offered fantastic audio and video, but its load times were poisonously slow and it offered no add-on features like streaming or DVD-Audio and SACD support.

Al Griffin Posted: May 29, 2015 12 comments

PRICE $2,000

High-quality 4K video upconversion
Superb detail enhancement and noise reduction
Excellent digital-to-analog audio conversion
As pricey as it is heavy
Slim feature set compared with competition

Pioneer’s flagship 4K-upconverting universal disc player is something special, even if it’s late to the party.

What’s new in the world of Blu-ray? 4K, that’s what. Expected to arrive sometime in late 2015, the UHD Blu-ray format should offer not just UHD-resolution video but also high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities, an extended color gamut, and up to 16-bit color encoding, among other advanced features. Something to get excited about, right?

Now that I’ve dropped that tidbit, let me tell you about the Pioneer Elite BDP-88FD, a universal player that can handle Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, SACD, DVD-Audio, regular DVDs, and CDs—just about everything except UHD Blu-ray. And it lists for $2,000. Excited? No? Well, let’s see if we can work you up.

Posted: Sep 16, 2007 0 comments

I know that technology moves fast these days, but we can hardly get a review of a Blu-ray Disc player out the door before a new model that supersedes it is released. And indeed, I received this Pioneer Elite BDP-94HD in August, just ahead of the rumors that a new player from Pioneer would be making its debut at CEDIA 2007 in early September.

Ultimate AV Staff Posted: Jul 16, 2006 0 comments

<UL CLASS="square">
<LI>Digital Video Output: HDMI</LI>
<LI>Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i/p</LI>
<LI>Audio Decoding: DD, MP3, WMA </LI>
<LI>Ins and Outs: HDMI, component, one each composite and S-Video, coaxial and Toslink digital audio, two-channel and 5.1-channel analog audio, Ethernet </LI>
<LI>Feature Highlights: Blu-ray Disc Player, upconversion of standard-def DVDs to 720p or 1080i/p via HDMI</LI>
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/706pioneerbdphd1.jpg" WIDTH=450 HEIGHT=135 BORDER=0>

Posted: Dec 18, 2006 0 comments

Even though this format war is a pain in the butt, I have to admit that it's funner to come in to work than it's been in years. I'm getting a charge out of seeing the hardware and seeing my favorite movies come out in HD on a silver disc that I've probably not felt since my Laserdisc collection gave way to DVDs back in the late 90's. To the cynic the next-gen HD formats are an Enron-esque scheme to perpetuate royalty streams and to keep selling movie libraries over and over (and over) again. I acknowledge all that, and say, "hooray!"

Posted: Dec 15, 2006 0 comments

In the years I've been covering consumer electronics I haven't seen anything like the introduction of Sony's PlayStation3 game console. The thing is a bonafide rock star. At the PS3's gala introduction in San Francisco gamers who had been camping out on the street for days actually cheered as an 18-wheeler with a full police escort rolled up carrying the game consoles, which went on sale at midnight and sold out Sony's initial US run of 150,000+ units within minutes.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2017 0 comments
At $179, Polk Audio's Signa S1 soundbar is definitely affordable.

John Sciacca Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

First impressions can be a dangerous thing, especially for an A/V equipment reviewer. Allowing yourself to become predisposed to thinking that one company’s component will be this and another company’s component will be that can cloud a review and allow for the praising of some unworthy products while subjecting others to unfair criticism.

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

Blu-ray players are becoming less a means to play discs than a gateway to online services — and to any media stored on computers, smartphones, and iDevices lying around your home. Take LG’s BD670. You might pick up this modest-looking machine thinking you’d use it to play Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D discs, along with DVDs and CDs.

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 24, 2012 1 comments

Most new Blu-ray players are cheap enough and perform well enough that there isn’t an urgent need to differentiate between (read: review) them.