Pros: Excellent picture and sound, Great build quality, Works well in 'connected' homes
Cons: No built-in wifi
Cons: No built-in wifi
After having a more expensive, Sony Blu-Ray player break down on me outside of warranty earlier this year, I went in search of a replacement machine that did well in three main areas:
- Picture and sound
- Build quality
- Value for money
After many nights spent reading reviews, manufacturer websites and of course AVS, I settled on the Pioneer BD-150. At AU$148, it's a far cry from higher end players made by the likes of Oppo, Arcam and Cambridge Audio, but any misgivings I had that I was doing myself a disservice by buying a cheaper model were soon swept away after I removed it from the box.
It feels very sturdy, and the black aluminium is very aesthetically pleasing. The only downside would be that the fascia is made of plastic, which is why I gave the BDP-150 a slightly lower score for Design.
Picture and sound
In a word: magnificent. Colours are vibrant, skin tones look realistic and natural, detail is preserved. Sound-wise, I have no complaints. More than once during films such as Master and Commander or Shaun of the Dead, I found myself looking around the room saying ‘What’s that noise’, before realising it was of course part of the movie. In this respect, the BDP-150 works extremely well with the rest of the components in my home theatre system. I haven’t yet tested the unit’s SACD capabilities, but for normal CDs I was particularly impressed with the clarity of vocals and the soundstage.
The menus are pleasingly simple. The Home Menu consists of Home Media Gallery, from where you can access your network devices, Web Contents for YouTube et al., and Initial Setup which contains various categories for adjusting the picture and sound, network options and more. There are numerous options for fine-tuning various aspects of the picture quality, which will please some and confuse others.
The BDP-150 doesn’t come with built-in Wifi, only an optional dongle. It does come with Ethernet, however, which meant I was able to plug into my home network and stream from my Windows Home Server and other Windows-based computers with ease. Otherwise there is the standard single HDMI v1.4 port, coaxl digital audio, two USB ports, composite and stereo outs. Another HDMI out would have been nice, but is probably unrealistic at this price point.
Ultimately I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the BDP-150. I know that whatever I throw at it will look and sound great. Blu-Rays load in around 30 seconds. The unit is not as feature-rich as its more expensive counterparts, but for a modestly priced machine I couldn’t be happier.