To test 3D performance, we got our hands on LG’s Infinia 55LX9900 LED TV and a pair of the necessary active shutter glasses, and then put Panasonic’s Ice Age 3 disc back in the tray. The opening sequence, showing Scrat chasing that elusive nut in glorious 3D, is a wondrous sight. The first thing to note is that the image is comfortable to watch, making it easy for your eyes to adjust to the different layers and moving objects.
After your eyes have adjusted, you can really immerse yourself in the BX580’s pictures. When leaves flap up in front of the camera or when Scrat pokes his snout round the side of the tree, the 3D effect is utterly convincing, but it’s at its best during long shots of snow-covered landscapes, where you can gaze in wonder at the different layers of trees and rocks stretching back towards the horizon. Great stuff.
As Scrat and his female counterpart dive into the chasm, the sense of perspective and depth is palpable. The impact of the deck’s 3D is boosted by remarkably sharp detail reproduction and lack of distracting noise. It’s not perfect – look closely and you can detect some ghosting on some of the trees in the background and where dark objects meet bright backgrounds, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Samsung’s TV/Blu-ray combo.
Another downside is that our Ice Age 3 disc kept breaking up and crashing on the BX580, something it never did on the Panasonic DMP-BDT100. On one occasion, it even caused the LG to turn itself off.
As a 2D player, the BX580 is a decent if not outstanding performer, displaying the same sharp detail reproduction it demonstrated with 3D playback. With demanding discs like Watchmen or The Dark Knight, the image is solid and punchy but subtle when it needs to be, particularly when it comes to colour shading and blends, while motion is smooth as an oiled eel and there’s no noise to speak of. Some players dig out a little more detail though and some areas of the image seem slightly unnatural.
It also displays most of the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray convincingly, with no fail-worthy flaws to report in the jaggies and Video Resolution Loss tests. But there’s some nasty strobing in the Film Resolution Loss test and some severe flickering in the lower tier of seats during the pan across Raymond James stadium, plus some significant moire patterning on the upper tier.
As a CD player, the BX580 does a solid job, injecting albums like Adele’s 19 with enough warmth and vocal purity to please casual listeners, and movie soundtracks piped as PCM to a receiver sound identical to the bitstream delivered version.
The BX580 has a lot going for it. It’s teeming with tempting features, most notably 3D playback and built-in Wi-Fi, and a terrific range of networking features, plus its 3D performance is impressive – not quite as impressive as Panasonic’s systems mind, but its sharp and absorbing 3D pictures are still enjoyable. It’s a little shakier with 2D material, some sluggishness besets the operating system and you only get one HDMI output, but with a much lower price tag than its 3D player rivals, you might be prepared to make a few sacrifices.