On the back you’ll find an HDMI output, which is specified as v1.3 so 3D playback is out of the question. Even more disappointing than that is the lack of HDMI inputs, which would have allowed you to switch external sources though the system, such as a PS3 and Sky box. However, if you want to feed audio signals into the Pioneer you can use the two optical digital or the analogue stereo inputs.
The rest of the sockets are run-of-the-mill – component and composite video outputs, FM aerial input and an Ethernet port for accessing the system’s network features, which include BD Live access and DLNA streaming from PCs and any other compatible devices you have hooked up. It’s the shame there’s no built-in Wi-Fi or support for a wireless USB adapter, which makes network installation a little more hassle than it should be.
Still, it’s nice to see media streaming on the feature list at this price. It works extremely well and supports a wide range of formats, including DivX Plus HD, MKV, MP3, WMA, JPEG and AAC. You can also play your files from USB storage devices and external HDDs using the front mounted port or rip CD tracks into MP3. The inclusion of an iPod dock in the box gives you yet another way of playing digital content, and it doesn’t stop there either – splash out on Pioneer’s Bluetooth adapter (AS-BT100) and you can stream music from phones and laptops too.
There’s plenty more too – Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding; more sound modes than you can shake a stick at (including ones for gaming, MP3 playback and a ‘Pioneer’ setting designed specifically for this system’s tower speakers); Dolby Pro Logic II; 1080p DVD upscaling; and a selection of picture presets that can be applied during movie playback by pressing the Display button, which brings up a handy sidebar menu.
Installation is simple. The Home Menu makes it clear where to find the setup menu, and once there all the options are laid out in a clear and easy to digest manner. The cursor is a little sluggish to move around though. Under the speaker setup section, you can tweak the distance and volume of each channel with a pretty graphic to help you, or you can simply hit the ‘Spk Level’ button on the remote and use the front panel display. It’s all fairly unsophisticated stuff but that’s what you want from a system aimed primarily at newcomers. The remote is nicely laid out, with large, clearly labelled buttons, which makes day-to-day operation a hassle-free business.
In our review of the BCS-303, we suspected that the main unit was a rebadged LG, and obviously, that applies here too. The remote, onscreen displays, sockets and design aspects of the main unit are identical to those found on LG’s systems from last year.