We recently reviewed LG's BD300, an attractively-priced Blu-ray player that might not offer the best picture quality ever seen but makes up for it with quick disc loading times, a generous feature list and BD Live support. Then at this year's CES, the Korean company unveiled the step-up BD370, which doesn't hit the shops until April but we've managed to get our hands on a sample for the UK's first test.
The most exciting new feature found on the BD370 is video-on-demand courtesy of YouTube. Using the deck's built-in Internet connection, you can access the site's videos and watch them on your TV as opposed to a poky PC monitor. It's the first time we've seen Blu-ray's Internet functionality being used for something other than movie-related extras or firmware updates, and on that basis it's a pretty significant step.
However, unlike the US version of the BD370, you can't access films on demand, mostly due to the lack of online download sites like CinemaNow and Netflix in this country. But of course the UK BD370's Profile 2.0 spec means you can do all the usual BD Live tricks, such as downloading new content and chatting online with fellow film fans, as well as enjoying BonusView picture-in-picture commentaries. Finding all this functionality on a deck costing just over £200 is quite remarkable, and suggests that we could have a real bargain on our hands.
And we're sorry Pioneer and Samsung, but the BD370 is possibly the best-looking Blu-ray player we've seen so far. Not only is it slim, sleek and adorned with a glossy black fascia, but it also boasts a large silver power button in the middle of the fascia, which is engraved with the Blu-ray logo and glows blue when the player's turned on - how cool is that?
It's surrounded by a grey panel that houses the Eject and Play buttons, but otherwise it's a fairly minimal affair. The display panel is large and easy to read, and the transparent panel in front of it drops down to reveal chapter skip and stop keys, alongside a USB port that allows you to expand the unit's memory capacity with a flash drive (for BD Live downloads) as well as play back DivX, MPEG-4, MP3, WMA and JPEG files.
On the back you'll find all the usual socketry suspects, including HDMI, component, composite, analogue stereo, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs, alongside the all-important Ethernet LAN port that connects to your Internet router. Based on what it unveiled at IFA, there's a good chance LG will launch players with built-in Wi-Fi and local storage in the UK later this year, but for now you'll have to put up with LAN cables and USB sticks.
The BD370 can output Blu-ray discs in either 50Hz or 24Hz, selectable in the setup menu and it'll upscale DVDs to 720p, 1080i or 1080p if you don't fancy replacing your entire collection on Blu-ray.