Back when the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war was in full swing, LG sat on the fence by launching a player that spun both formats (the much maligned BD100). But now that the dust has settled, the Korean company has turned its attention to Blu-ray exclusively with the BD300, a modestly-priced but feature-packed player.
But before we get stuck into its features, here's an interesting little curio - the BD300's page on LG's website still shows the HD DVD logo, which makes us think that at some point the BD300 was destined to be another dual-format deck. We can confirm however that it doesn't play HD DVDs, as demonstrated by its almost violent rejection of our V For Vendetta disc.
Anyway, on with the review. The BD300 boasts full BD Live support, which at this price is not to be sniffed at. It's soon to be joined by the BD370, which also allows you to connect to YouTube and watch video clips through its Internet connection, and although the US version of the BD300 supports downloads from Netflix, the UK version is currently limited to downloading film extras and the like. The BD300 supports Profile 1.1 BonusView features too, making this deck a wise investment if you're into bonus features.
The BD300 is a very classy-looking player, with a beautiful translucent fascia and a delectable silver strip running along the top that has the power and open/close buttons embedded into it. The display panel is bright and easy to read, and alongside it is a USB port, which you'll need if you want to download BD Live content or play MP3, WMA and JPEG files from an external storage device.
The rear panel is equipped with all the key connections, with the only notable omissions being multichannel analogue outputs, which would have been useful for owners of older amps without HDMI inputs. But it does offer an Ethernet LAN port, the necessary connection for web-enabled features, and an HDMI v1.3 output that supports 1080/24p output and Deep Colour. The inclusion of optical and coaxial digital audio outputs is handy if your amp is limited to one or the other, but the composite video output is about as useful as a paper umbrella. Rounding up the sockets is a set of component video outputs.
As the lack of multichannel outputs suggests, the LG's audio talents are fairly limited. On the plus side, it's able to output Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio bitstreams from its HDMI output - great news if your receiver can decode them - but it's only able to decode Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, which will be a real blow for those with HDMI-equipped receivers without HD audio decoding who want to enjoy the extra resolution offered by DTS HD Master Audio.
Format support is pretty healthy though. Aside from the aforementioned MP3, WMA and JPEG playback, the BD300 also accepts AVCHD and DivX (but sadly not DivX HD like the DVS450H DVD player) as well as spinning BD-RE/BD-R, DVD-RW/-R, DVD+RW/+R and CD-RW/-R discs.