LG has a wide selection of 3D-capable TVs in its range, so naturally the Korean company has brought out a 3D Blu-ray player to go with them. But 3D aside the BX580 is packed with features – just like the rest of LG’s Blu-ray machines in fact – and although the £217 price tag isn’t exactly peanuts, it’s cheaper than 3D players from Samsung and Panasonic, which could give it an advantage in this burgeoning area of the market.
The player itself is surprisingly slim and compact, but nowhere near as eye-catching as LG’s BD570. The front panel is one long semi-transparent flap that covers up the clutter, giving it a minimal look. Pull it down and you’ll find a disc tray, a selection of playback keys and a USB port, while a couple of blue lights either side of the Blu-ray 3D logo are a nice touch. It’s just a shame that LG couldn’t have sprung for a bigger display panel, as the poky digits are a little hard to read.
Looking at the back, there’s disappointment right off the bat. LG has provided one HDMI v1.4 output, which won’t be very helpful to people who want to listen to HD audio soundtracks alongside 3D movies, but don’t have HDMI v1.4 sockets on their AV receiver. The Panasonic DMP-BDT300 is the only deck we’ve encountered so far to provide a second HDMI output, which allows you to pipe pictures and sound separately, but it’ll set you back at least £100 more.
Other connections include component, composite, analogue stereo and two optical digital audio outputs (coaxial and optical). Alongside them is an Ethernet port, which is provided for those who prefer to make a wired connection to their Internet router. But if you’re running a wireless router at home then you can take advantage of the deck’s built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi support.
Using either method you can download BD Live content, stream media content from devices on your home network (this player is DLNA certified) and delve into on-demand content using LG’s NetCast feature. NetCast only features three sites at present – YouTube, Picasa and AccuWeather.com – which pales in comparison to Sony and Samsung’s latest players, but YouTube alone might be enough to keep you occupied. The NetCast interface is gorgeous, placing the three icons on a brightly-coloured graphic of a street, plus the browsers for each site boast an attractive and logical design, but this smart presentation can’t quite gloss over the dearth of compelling content.
DLNA networking is a really useful feature if you have music, video and pictures stored on various drives and PCs around the home, and thankfully LG’s simple setup procedure and user-friendly folder-based layout make it blissfully easy to use. You can play an unusually wide range of formats, including container formats like MKV, MP4 and AVI, plus DivX HD, MP3, WMA and JPEG, plus the deck’s 802.11n compatibility is a boon for those who want to stream hi-def videos. The same file types can be played from USB devices plugged into the front-mounted port, although this port must also be used to provide memory for BD Live downloads – we’d have preferred a second port on the back solely for that purpose.