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LG BD390 Blu-ray Player
Along with hi-def picture quality, BD Live has always been touted as one of the main incentives to upgrade to Blu-ray from DVD, but so far it's failed to capture the public's imagination. Aside from its painfully slow arrival onto the market and the inconsistent quality of the content, the main problem is that most Profile 2.0 players make it awkward to access, using unwieldy Ethernet connections or pricey USB dongles to connect to the web. When it comes down to it, most Blu-ray users simply can't be bothered.
But LG's latest Blu-ray deck is set to change all that. It's the first player on the market to offer built-in Wi-Fi (courtesy of an IEEE 802.11n wireless module that also supports the b/g standards) which makes the process of downloading movie extras a complete no-brainer. And with 1GB of built-in memory you don't need to plug in a USB drive to store content either. Result!
As an added bonus, the BD390 is DLNA certified and allows you to stream videos, music and photos from PCs on your home network - a more convenient way of accessing your content than copying it to USB sticks or discs.
Incredibly, that's only the tip of the iceberg - the BD390 packs more feature firepower than any other similarly-priced rival, and that includes the brilliant Samsung BD-P3600. Besides Blu-ray, DVD and CD playback, the BD390 supports DivX HD, MKV, MP3, WMA, AAC, MPEG-4 (AVI) and JPEG from USB hard-disk and flash drives, as well as AVCHD from discs - a range of playback talents that most decks at this price can only dream of.
And then of course there's YouTube access, which is made all the more convenient by the wireless web connection. Like the BD370 before it, you can enter the dedicated portal on the deck's Home menu and watch clips of dogs on skateboards on your TV rather than a poky PC monitor.
But beneath these fancy features lies a very capable Blu-ray deck, which performs a full range of less glamorous yet equally important functions. It can deliver 1080p pictures at 24 or 50 frames per second to a compatible display, as well as outputting Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio bitstreams to a compatible AV receiver. It can also convert these HD audio formats to multichannel PCM and output them via HDMI, or through the 7.1-channel analogue outputs on the back (yes, it's even got those).
All of these features are bundled up inside an attractive and robustly built unit, which is chunkier than the BD370 but not excessively so. It catches the eye with a dark, mysterious fascia, embedded with just four buttons, a USB port and a fairly informative display panel. Along the top is a silver strip that barely has enough room to display all the deck's logos.
Aside from the afore-mentioned HDMI and 7.1-channel outputs, the busy back panel sports component, composite and stereo audio outputs, as well as both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. An Ethernet port is on hand for those who don't use a wireless router to connect to the internet.