LG BD390 Blu-ray Player Page 2

Once I had the player configured to my home network and completed the user adjustments, I checked to see if there was a new firmware update—a common practice with all Blu-ray players—and there was (version BD.9.08.33.B). The update took about five minutes to complete, which was similar to my OPPO BDP-83.

As with all Netflix-enabled devices, in order to access this feature, you need a Netflix-generated setup code. You’ll need to enter the code on the Netflix Website in order to pair the player with your account. As with the Samsung BD-P4600, this took very little time, but it required the use of a computer. The BD390 also streams media from any networked PCs using the included software (Nero server). Since I don’t have any DivX or MPEG video files on my computer, I couldn’t test this function.


Video Performance
The BD390 was an excellent performer in all of our HD video processing tests, even on difficult 1080i 2:2 content found on most concert discs. The player sailed through all of the deinterlacing tests on the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition. Standard-definition performance was just as impressive, apart from a failure on our 2:2 SD cadence test. When I tested for above-black and below-white data, I discovered that the Standard picture mode wouldn’t pass the above-white information. Luckily, if you press the Pic Adjust button on the remote, you’ll access a User mode, which lets you control contrast, brightness, and other adjustments. Once I clicked over to the User controls, the above-white information was restored.

The only downside to the BD390’s video performance is its scaling ability, which is only average when going from 480i to 1080p. Star Trek: Insurrection on DVD is a decent transfer that looked very good on the Pioneer and Samsung players, but the LG showed off its stellar deinterlacing performance with clear edges on the bridges, boats, and rooftops. But the image was also softer versus the competition. Bright backgrounds revealed ample ringing in the image, and both the foregrounds and the backgrounds lacked sharpness. When I checked the player on a smaller display (50-inch plasma versus 88-inch front projection), the image didn’t look as bad, so your mileage may vary depending on your display.

Real-World Performance
The BD390 is the fastest Blu-ray player I’ve ever used. Its startup time rivals the PS3 and the OPPO BDP-83 at less than 20 seconds. Even with the most Java-intensive titles, you’ll be at the main menu in less than a minute—now that’s fast. Blu-ray playback at 1080p/24 is flawless, and the LG played every title I threw at it, even Dollhouse: Season One and The Soloist, two titles that wouldn’t play on either of the other players in this roundup. Navigation through the menus on Blu-ray Discs is also very speedy, but I had to point the remote directly at the player versus bouncing the signal off of my screen. Granted, I placed the player at the side of my room, but the other players in the roundup didn’t have this problem with similar placements.

Besides superior audio and video quality, Blu-ray also features some neat interactive features such as PiP (picture-in-picture) commentaries and online access. Most of these features worked flawlessly on the LG, but the one exception was Watchmen from Warner. When I watched the film with its Maximum Movie mode, the graphic time line and menus wouldn’t display properly, although the video commentary and PiP worked as advertised. There have been widespread reports of this disc causing issues in other players, and even the OPPO BDP-83 pauses at the 46-second mark (which you can fast-forward through). This may point toward an authoring issue rather than a problem with this player. Other interactive discs from Universal such as Heroes: Season 3 and State of Play worked perfectly with Universal’s U-Control interface.

For the majority of my evaluation, I used the internal audio decoding and output it as PCM to my surround processor, and I never found the sound lacking in any way. Dynamics were excellent, with crisp highs, natural bass, and well-balanced and transparent dialogue, especially on lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks.

I don’t have an account with CinemaNow, and after looking over its Website, I’m not inclined to sign up. It has a decent assortment of new movies, but most of them are only in standard definition and cost $4 to rent or $20 to buy. When you compare its cost with Netflix, the latter wins hands down. Frankly, for $20, I’d rather go out and buy the DVD and have a hard copy.

Netflix has a large assortment of standard-def titles and a growing list of HD offerings. The standard-def feed is near DVD quality. The HD streams are nowhere as good as Blu-ray, and the audio is stereo. I never use this service for critical viewing, but it’s handy when you want to watch an old TV show or obscure catalog title without having to wait for it in the mail. The 720p VC-1 high-def feeds have decent quality, but the image doesn’t have the same visual depth and color saturation as Blu-ray—nor should it, considering the low bitrate.

With my movie-watching schedule, I rarely have time to watch YouTube videos on my computer, let alone in my home theater. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this added feature, although the entertainment value varies greatly depending on the creator. The interface is very fast—like everything else on the player—with selections for the top-rated and most viewed videos. YouTube also has a search function, but without a keyboard, it’s cumbersome. The videos start playing in a small window, and you can expand them to full screen by pressing the Display button on the remote. But don’t expect the video quality to blow you away.

Wrap Up
The BD390 has improved its video processing over the BD300, but its scaling of DVDs doesn’t measure up to the category leaders, Pioneer and OPPO. But if you’re looking for a player that’s lightning fast in its user interface and offers a bevy of media streaming options (now including VUDU, which was announced as we went to print), this one is worth a look. Recommended.



LG Electronics
(800) 243-0000