The BP740 is LG’s top-of-the-range Blu-ray player, which takes all the features from the cheaper BP645 and throws in 4K upscaling and a Magic Remote for around £80 more.
We’ve seen some excellent players this year from the likes of Samsung and Sony, but the BP645 held its own with impressive performance and features. Let’s find out if the BP740 can do the same.
The BP740 is differentiated from LG’s cheaper players with a smart silver finish that covers roughly two thirds of the bodywork – the rest is gloss-black like the BP645. It’s a jazzy, eye-catching combo, looking not unlike Samsung’s BD-F7500 from last year, plus its 43mm-high rectangular casing takes up minimal shelf space.
However, close inspection reveals build quality below what we’d expect for £200. The whole thing feels light and plasticky, while the various panels feel like they could be quite easily pulled off. Indeed, our review sample arrived suitably battered, with a big dent in the back and a wobbly front flap. Sadly, unless you have the budget for a high-end deck from the likes of OPPO or Cambridge Audio, lightweight build quality like this is to be expected.
The gloss black section houses an LED display, four buttons shaped into playback icons and a USB port for media playback. The silver side of the fascia drops down when you open the disc tray.
Rear connections include HDMI output, optical digital output and an Ethernet port, although there’s built-in Wi-Fi for added convenience. This classic budget socket line-up will be fine for most users, but it’s not unreasonable to have expected a second HDMI port at this price.
Connect the BP740 to your router and you can access LG’s growing range of internet apps. The best content is found in the Premium menu and includes BBC iPlayer, Now TV, Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video Blinkbox and Knowhow Movies.
There’s no ITV Player, 4OD or Demand Five, all of which you’ll find on Samsung’s latest players – but if you’re a Sky devotee (and don’t mind paying a subscription) then Now TV might be more appealing. Spotify is another bonus for music lovers, but again you’ll need a premium subscription.
Away from the Premium content, LG’s Smart World houses a wealth of games, puzzles and lesser-known apps to keep the whole family happy.
The network connection also lets you stream video, music and photos from other DLNA-compatible devices like PCs, NAS drives and smartphones. The list of supported formats is lengthy – DivX, XviD, MKV, MP4, WMV, 3GP, MOV, FLV, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, JPEG, PNG and GIF. You can play all of these from USB devices and external HDDs too. Content can also be beamed to the BP740 using Miracast or Wi-Fi Direct.
4K (Ultra HD) upscaling is flagged up as the main feature, but you won’t get the benefits without a compatible TV. And even if you have one, the display upscales it for you anyway. But if you’d rather let this £200 player handle upscaling instead of your powerful 4K TV then at least you have the option. The deck also plays 3D platters, DVDs and CDs.
Finally Private Sound Mode 2.0 beams audio to a compatible smartphone or tablet so you can listen through headphones without disturbing anyone else.
The BP740 is operated using LG’s Magic Remote. This gloss-black zapper slips comfortably into the palm of your hand and controls an onscreen cursor like a Wii remote. Point the remote at the player and the cursor automatically appears on screen, with icons in the top corner of the screen to exit and close menus.
It makes menu navigation a breeze, particularly when browsing internet apps and the built-in web browser, but there are also plenty of physical buttons for those who want to keep it old school.
These include a jog wheel for scrolling through menus, which doubles as the Enter key, while Back and Home are placed prominently at the top. It’s an absolute joy to use.
Onscreen presentation is also superb thanks to LG’s liberal use of crisp, brightly-coloured graphics. The Home menu displays a row of five large tiles – SmartShare (DLNA), Premium, LG Smart World, My Apps (where you access your downloaded content) and Settings. The corresponding options are conveniently displayed in a banner below, such as recommended apps and connected DLNA servers.
The DLNA/USB playback and internet content menus are similarly attractive and easy to follow – select Premium, for instance, and the apps are superimposed over an image of a park. Random, but cute.
Press Info during playback and a menu appears at the bottom of the screen allowing you to access a range of disc options and picture presets (Standard, Vivid and Movie) and a User setting with contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness settings.
We probed the BP740’s picture prowess with The Dark Knight disc and it’s hard to fault. Its perfectly judged contrast levels bring necessary depth to the movie’s dense, lustrous visuals, which is particularly noticeable in the inky black police SUVs and night-time aerial shots of Gotham and Hong Kong.
Cleanly rendered detail results in a sharp, punchy picture. As the IMAX camera moves over queues of cars waiting to evacuate Gotham, you can make out individual figures milling about, while bricks and windows in the nearby buildings are clearly delineated. And as the camera moves, this abundant detail holds steady and there’s no judder to speak of. Stubble, suit fabric and Harvey Dent’s grisly facial injuries are also drawn with stunning clarity.
Colours are bright and fulsome without overstepping the mark, so the orange jump suits of the prisoners on the boat look natural. Softer tones are handled with impressive subtlety and smooth gradation. There are a few brief flickers of noise and the odd stutter here and there but overall the BP740’s pictures are consistently enjoyable.
That goes for 3D discs too – with Thor, it retains the emphatic detail clarity and natural colours of the 2D version and gives swooping shots of Asgard a believable sense of depth and distance. It’s generally composed too, give or take the odd bit of blur when the action gets too frenetic.
Upscaled DVDs are less enjoyable. The CGI landscapes in Revenge of the Sith are riddled with smudgy noise and shimmering, which reduces clarity of the image. It’s watchable but we’ve seen better upscalers at work.
Disc loading times could be quicker, taking 30 seconds to load Terminator Salvation, but there are no significant problems in its handling of the Silicon Optix HQV test patterns. DLNA streaming performance is excellent, firing up music and video files faster than many budget decks.
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The BP740 is a fine Blu-ray player, but we’re struggling to understand why it’s so much more expensive than the Samsung BD-H6500, Sony BDP-S6200 and Panasonic DMP-BDT360, all of which boast similar picture quality and features (including 4K upscaling and Miracast).
What’s more, the LG’s jazzy silver finish can’t hide its flimsy build quality, while the lack of ITV Player, 4OD and Demand Five makes the Samsung BD-H6500 a better bet in terms of web content.
However, the LG scores points over its rivals in some areas. The superb Magic Remote and gorgeous onscreen menus make it one of the most user-friendly Blu-ray decks on the market, while the unique inclusion of Now TV and Spotify is an appealing prospect.
If you like the sound of that, then the BP740 will be worth the investment. If you’re not bothered, check out one of LG’s cheaper rivals or the BP645.
The BP740 is a fine Blu-ray deck with a fantastic operating system and unique web content, but we’re not sure it does enough to justify the price.
Next, check out our pick of the Best Blu-ray players