Sorry it has taken me so long. We have been doing a new deck and are putting in a nice hot tub to go with it. Of course new outdoor speakers as well.
I played with the 51FD last night and then a lot today. I will first start off by saying it can be the perfect fit to your set up as long as you have the right equipment to go with it. Sure it is not the right Blu-ray player for everyone but it is perfect for my set up. Using a pre/pro or receiver to do Dolby TrueHD (then adding Ultra2 Cinema) or DTS-HD is of course the main consideration...
Pic Q- I was very impressed with the amount of picture settings this unit has. From YNR, CNR, BNR, MNR, to detail, black setting, gamma corrections, white and black level to hue and chroma levels. I really like the Detail setting. The amount of sharpness you can achieve without adding noise was outstanding!
Also having different settings depending on your display was also a cool twist. There is LCD, PDP (plasma) PJ, Pro and for those that tweak (like me) memories 1 to 3. It is amazing the amount of adjusting you can do with all of these options. No matter what display you have you should be able to get the most optimal picture Q out of it. Speaking of displays, if yours is capable of accepting deep color or x.v. color this Blu-ray player is a must. I did notice some differences with my Sony VW200 PJ. Some may not notice as much because the difference was less subtle on my Panny 1080p 42" plasma and Toshiba 32" 1080p LCD. With my Sony thought it was much nicer eye candy. I did take a few screen shots but it is very hard to tell with a camera. If you have a capable display then I really thin this unit should be on your short list.
Audio- Not much to report here. The Bitstreaming is excellent. I was very impressed with any Blu-ray or SD dvd title I played.
Misc- Build Quality- I was really impressed with the build quality this unit has. It is very heavy and built like a tank. The Denon units have nothing on this new Pioneer unit. I also have been wearing a band-aid so it was a little tougher to navigate the remote (yes, I cut myself working on the deck
). Anyway, the remote worked well. I should point out that I am using the "final" firmware version until they release another.
Issues- There were a couple. I can't do a complete cheerleader review.
I did have a freeze when I was trying to get a good screen shot. I had to power down the unit (hold power for 5 seconds) to get it out of it. Since then it has been fine. Also a couple of times when rewinding or fast forwarding after I would hit play it would go back to my previous spot where I started. I really think Pioneer should consider a couple of BETA testers (not BB customers) when they release their new units. I hit this within 12 minutes. I could have reported it to them on day one. Not that I am offering my services but I think it would not be a bad idea. Since my Denon 3800 fiasco I will not let anything slip through anymore. Which is also why it took longer for me. I tested more...
Resolution testing- I really like being able to go source direct. It is really nice that I can do this with the Pioneer units at this price level. Switching between them is to easy. A button for going up and a button for going down. Now why hasn't the other companies caught on to this by now? Kudos go to Pioneer again for having this great feature that can be done by the remote and so easily.
SD dvds- Many are still concerned about SD dvd performance. The 51FD is pretty good and I would not hesitate to use it as my main SD dvd player if I did not have a VP. Especially being able to adjust the heck out of the picture. You are able to achieve an eye pleasing picture with any title!
Comparisons- I used the BD30, BD1500, S350 and of course PS3 for my comparisons. I really liked all the features and picture Q adjusting the 51FD has over the rest. Having those alone make it a notch higher then the other units. Sure they are all very close at 1080p/24 but being able to tweak more with the 51FD puts it over the top. I would say it can do the exact same as the Denon 3800 (since it has the same picture adjustments). Of course many care about load times. I have never pulled out a stop watch but I will say it is a little slower then the BD30 and of course the king of load times-PS3. Does that matter? Not to me. I still think it is not bad at all. Some of my titles that used to take forever seemed to load much faster.
Final thoughts, I know many are still waiting for this unit. Believe me it is worth the wait. You get exceptional picture (especially at 1080p/24) and the cool new color trick that may really benefit some who have capable display. Still if yours is not the amount of picture tweaking you can do does separate this unit from the bunch. It is big, impressive looking, and sports some major picture adjusting that can make any display shine. I am leaving the 51FD in my set up... I like having HDMI High Speed Data Transmission!