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Pioneer BDP-LX71 Blu-ray Player
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.