Other stand-out features include the iPod/iPhone dock built into the unit’s front panel – which can be conveniently shut away when not in use – and a USB port next to it that supports a wide variety of media formats from flash drives and external HDDs. It plays MKV, DivX HD, MP3, WMA, JPEG, WAV and more, making it a versatile hub for your entire media library, not just Blu-ray discs.
There’s a ton of funky sound features designed to spice up movie and music playback, including Virtual Sound Matrix, which claims to expand 5.1 sound to 10.1 but really just provides a fuller, richer soundstage. It’s joined by Clear Voice, which emphasises dialogue, Natural Plus, which aims to ‘balance’ the sound, and Music Re-Touch, which tries to enhance the quality of compressed music. Load up a CD and the system will also download info from the online Gracenote database, plus you can record CD tracks directly onto USB devices at 128, 192, 320kbps or losslessly.
All of the sockets and buttons on the main unit’s front panel are hidden away behind a flap, which makes the unit look sleek and minimal despite having much chunkier measurements than your average Blu-ray player. The volume dial pokes through the flap and is accentuated by a blue light, next to which is a display panel that could do with being a bit bigger and brighter.
The rear panel is a cut above your average all-in-one system fare, mainly thanks to the inclusion of two HDMI inputs. That means you can connect this system and two other devices to a single HDMI input on your TV. These are backed up by two optical digital and analogue stereo inputs for any other kit you want to channel through the system, plus component and composite video outputs. The HDMI output is v1.3, which rules out any future 3D support – if that’s what you’re after, check out LG’s HX995TZ.
Colour-coded cables and excellent instructions make installation easy, and the remote is a joy to use. Onscreen, the menu system is the same one used by the BD570 and therefore shares the same pros and cons. On the plus side, it’s gob-smackingly attractive and innovative – the home menu’s icons are inside blocks of ice bobbing about in a tank of water – but the over-exuberant graphics clearly take up too much processing power and result in sluggish reactions to remote commands.
Once you come to terms with this pervasive sluggishness, set-up and operation are self-explanatory. The wireless functionality is a breeze to set up thanks to clear onscreen dialogue boxes, while the DLNA menus are superbly presented. There’s no auto calibration, but the levels are so easy to tweak (thanks to the terrific onscreen graphics) that it’s no great loss. Disc loading times are roughly similar to the BD570 (around 50 seconds for Terminator Salvation).