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Pioneer BDP-LX71 Blu-ray Player review

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  • Recommended by TR
Pioneer BDP-LX71 Blu-ray Player

Summary

Our Score:

9

While most manufacturers are busy driving down the price of their Blu-ray players, Pioneer is persisting with its policy of delivering the best performance no matter the cost. This gung-ho attitude is in evidence once again with its latest balls-to-the-wall hi-def disc spinner, which may cost about three times as much as the cheapest budget deck but for that price you're getting a piece of pure home cinema heaven.

The BDP-LX71's pedigree is clear the moment you lift it from the box. Its build quality is absolutely faultless, sporting an outer casing that seems to have been fashioned from the same stuff they used to make the Batsuit, while the double-layered chassis and rock-solid disc mechanism will be music to the ears of any videophile worried about vibration and jitter.

But if you're into svelte, lightweight kit, forget it - this bad boy tips the scales at just over 6kg and its mega-chunky dimensions make it look like two players stacked on top of each other.

Aesthetically, it's got Pioneer's fingerprints all over it, and thanks to its glossy black fascia it'll soon be covered in yours too. But it's a small price to pay for such a seriously good-looking machine, which boasts loads of classy touches such as a silver trimmed play button, an alluring blue light and a row of touch-sensitive buttons that cause a white light to flash momentarily. The display panel is also a cut above the usual budget fare, showing title, chapter and time information in big, bold digits and even telling you the current output frequency.

Unlike its predecessor, the BDP-LX70, the LX71's HDMI output is version 1.3, which brings with it goodies like 12-bit Deep Colour support, auto lip sync and HD audio bitstream output, plus KURO Link control from a Pioneer TV remote. Joining this all-digital connection is component video out, as well as the increasingly out of place S-video and composite sockets. On the audio side, there's an isolated set of two-channel analogue outputs intended for CD playback, plus optical and coaxial digital audio outputs.

Jmac

November 6, 2008, 2:53 pm

I can understand that 10/10 for design and performance - it is a stunning piece of kit and evidently produces phenomenal pictures - but I have a couple of questions:





(1) can you genuinely tell the difference between the bitstream audio output of this deck and that of a lesser deck into the same amp? I would have thought each would output an identical bitstream?





(2) How can you reconcile a score of 8/10 for features with the outdated Profile 1.1 and the lack of DTS HD decoding onboard?





(3) How, pray tell, will they get this firmware upgrade out to users when the deck has no ethernet connection? I assume it will be some tedious process of downloading the firmware to a PC and then burning to CDR? How 20th Century.

Nik

November 6, 2008, 5:23 pm

I'd be interested in (1) too. As for (2), well DTS HD/MA will come via firmware (for sure - this is Pioneer) and lets be honest, we've yet to see any decent evidence of the benefits of BD Live downloadable content. Personally I'd take all the fine-tuning and other features exclusive to this deck over the rather lacklusture prospect of BD Live content. The reviewer has marked this down by 2 points for the omissions and that seems fair. As for (3), well it might be a little inconvenient to download and burn a CD-R, but didn't take me long to update the firmware on my LX71 recently... its pretty easy and the file sizes are very small. Personally I absolutely love my BDP-LX71, as the reviewer says, it looks stunning (even my wife thinks it looks good and she hates all the rest of my AV kit) and performs even better. The excellent DVD AND CD playback are a big plus (in fact a major factor in my buying decision), as most competitors are distinctly lacklusture in this regard.

Danny P

November 6, 2008, 6:08 pm

Hi John, answers to your questions below:





(1) There's no real difference between the bitstream output from deck to deck, the quality of the sound depends purely on the receiver (and speakers) and how well it handles that raw bitstream. However, in the sound section of my review I was primarily talking about the sound quality when using the analogue outputs, which is largely dependent on the decoding and audio circuitry inside the player itself. I merely mentioned the quality of sound when using the bitstream output at the end to reinforce the fact that it sounds great no matter what method you use.





(2) I docked points for those missing features but I still felt the deck deserved an 8 based on the wealth of features found elsewhere, particularly when it comes to image tweaking. Also, I didn't want to come down too hard on the DTS HD decoding thing given that there's a firmware update on the way, and to say it lacks DTS HD decoding isn't strictly true - it can decode DTS HD MA and DTS HD into hi-res PCM when using the HDMI output, it's just not available from the analogue outs. And I'm playing devil's advocate here, but don't most people have HDMI equipped receivers now anyway?





(3) As Nik said, the DTS firmware upgrade will be available as a download from the Pioneer website, which you'll have to burn onto CD-R. If you don't have those facilities, or if it's too much hassle, then Pioneer will send you a CD-R with the update on it if you get in touch with them.

Jmac

November 6, 2008, 10:29 pm

Thanks for the answers Danny. Does look like a great deck. I'm just astounded that Pio is releasing a flagship Blu-Ray player which doesn't conform to profile 2. I know the benefits aren't huge, but it still seems like a step backwards.

Kyle Mitchell

November 7, 2008, 8:52 am

Danny,





You said "it can decode DTS HD MA and DTS HD into hi-res PCM when using the HDMI output". I don't believe this is true, it can bitstream DTS-HD MA, but it cannot internally decode it and send it out as PCM. It will not have that ability until the DTS HD firmware update is released.





John,





There are many who do not wish to have a 2.0 profile player (myself included). I don't want my viewing habits recorded for the purpose of recieving targeted advertising and spam. If I want to download extra content, I'll do it on my computer. When I want to watch a blu-ray movie, I want to watch the movie...not download a bunch of crap.

niftynigel

November 10, 2008, 6:33 pm

According to the manual (Page 50) (I haven't got the player, but downloaded the excellent manual nonetheless), DTS-HD Master Audio and High Res are output as PCM through the analogue audio connections.





As PCM is an excellent codec, then I think you should not have been so harsh, especially as there will be a firmware update to give full DTS HD functionality!





I really can't see what people are getting hot and bothered about the lack of Profile 2 functionality. Sure, it might be a nice feature to have, in the future, but give me all the extras on the disc(s) anyday!





The other issue about Profile 2 is that one day, the studios will charge for the extra downloaded content and functionality. They're not stupid. We should all be wary of this potential direction! Profile 2 won't appear to be such a good idea then, will it?





All the great extras we now take for granted, could start to migrate to Profile 2 / internet only status!





I know some HD DVD owners waxed lyrical about it's internet accessability from day one, but really how much time did people really spend using this feature? They cited this as being HD DVDs trump card and it's reason for being better than Blu-ray! How misguided was that, given HD DVDs quite obvious technical limitations!





I make it that there are about 23 current Blu-ray players out there, eight of which have full Profile 2 functionality. Both Sony and Panasonic players conform to this. Also, each manufacturer has one machine that decodes and outputs DTS-HD as PCM via analogue outputs for those of us with slightly older AV amplifiers/receivers!

Peter Allen

November 11, 2008, 5:23 pm

niftynigel,





I agree with all you say, but your first statement is only half right! Page 50 of the manual says that when the source is DTS-HD HR or DTS-HD MA, then the analogue output is DTS Digital Surround (ie the DVD variety) converted to 5.1ch PCM. As well as being only core DTS quality, also missing are the two surround-rear channels that DTS-HD is capable of.





This is what the promised Jan/Feb firmware upgrade will presumably fix.





What surprises me in perusing the manual is that I have yet to find any reference to delay compensation adjustments for surround channels at different distances to the listener than the primary front speakers. Both the Panasonic and Sony counterparts to this machine have distance compensation. I have this problem with my 2002 SACD player, and it's most annoying (but was unavoidable at the time). I WANT the Pioneer to be right for me due to its sound, video and build quality (& don't care one whit about network connection), but this factor, if true, is a strike against it.





Also, I'm a legacy user on two counts. All the money I could afford was spent on TV and AV amp in 2002, and it's too early to replace them yet. So I need analogue video (1080i component) as well as 7.1ch analogue audio in a blu-ray player (+ HDMI 1.3 for the future, no problems there). Page 25 is therefore disappointing. On the 1080i output setting for component video, neither NTSC or PAL DVDs are upconverted, only de-interlaced. Compare the Sony, whose output is 1080i for DVDs and BDs, unless the contents are "protected".





Well, I've never heard of protected content on DVDs that would prevent upscaling; indeed upscaling is common on DVD players. As for blu-ray, from what I've read in forums (fora?) so far, only a handful of BDs have had the ICT flag enabled, which would force the BD component output to 480p. (As if pirates would "play" analogue video at reduced quality to make a copy rather than find a way to digitally rip the contents! - another stupid studio "shot in the foot" idea and annoyance for real users, like region coding, IMO. But I digress).





Anyway, I see that as two strikes against the Pioneer, unless someone can show me otherwise. I'm a complete newbie to blu-ray - have never had a player - and am trying to learn fast so as to not make an expensive mistake. I welcome any enlightenment on these issues!

Ian 6

November 29, 2008, 6:57 pm

Danny/ All, I am considering buying the BDP-LX71 or the panasonic dmp bd-55 which is a little less expensive. Ultimately I am looking for best video and audio quality. Any thoughts?? tks

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