Pioneer BDP-LX71 Blu-ray Player - Pioneer BDP-LX71

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

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

Summary

Our Score:

9

The meticulous attention to detail continues with the Video Adjust menu, which enables you to match the player's picture characteristics to those of your display. There are specific presets for Pioneer KURO plasma, a ‘regular' plasma, an LCD set and a projector, plus three memory settings that allow you to alter the parameters yourself - and the list of tweakable options will send videophiles into rapture.

The look and layout of the user interface is stunning and matches the menu system found on Pioneer's latest KURO plasma TVs, giving your system some very welcome uniformity if you're lucky enough to be pairing it with one of their sets. The cursor darts around the menus with pleasing speed and the use of white text on a moody black background makes it easy to read.

The attractive remote also plays its part in the LX71's effortless operation, sporting clearly labelled, well-spaced buttons and excellent silver menu controls. There are keys to control of all the crucial functions, including up/down buttons to change the resolution as you watch, plus buttons to turn the BonusView secondary video and audio on and off. If we're being honest, we'd like the buttons to have been a bit bigger but on the whole it's a very likeable zapper.

The LX71's disc loading times are a lot faster than its predecessor - with the Transformers disc, we clocked it at 49 seconds from the moment we pressed the Close button to the disc's language selection menu appearing on screen. With Spider-Man 3, it took 1min 22 seconds for the Sony logo to appear. It's a bit slow to skip chapters and move through the search speeds but we've yet to encounter a Blu-ray deck that does this as quickly as a DVD player.

To see LX71's pictures at their best they should be viewed on a Pioneer KURO plasma, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on the company's latest flagship set, the 60in KRP-600A. And from the moment Transformers cranked into life, we were simply staggered by what we saw.

Most players do a decent job of bringing this disc's abundant detail and lively colour palette to the screen, but few can do so with such intensity, depth and transparency. The richly textured robot CGI looks sharper than ever before, allowing every nut, bolt, scuff and scratch on Optimus Prime's bodywork to be clearly visible.

But it's not just stuff knocked up on an Apple Mac that looks great - the deck easily picks out the pockmarks and stubble on Shia LeBoeuf's face, and lends his skin a satisfyingly realistic hue. Reproduction of bolder colours is also fantastic, with Bumblebee's bright yellow paintwork jumping from the screen and Optimus Prime's red and blue body looking deep and radiant, without a hint of garishness or edge bleed.

Skipping to the end battle scenes, the LX71 tracks the frenetic, fast-moving action without any sign of judder. The dense colours and solid blacks give long shots of the city streets a real sense of depth and distance, while the forceful detail handling continues to make those robots and the surrounding buildings look crisp and focused at all times.

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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