The deck also delivers gorgeous-looking Blu-ray pictures, mainly characterised by their intensely sharp detail and clean, hard edges. We spun the US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the images have remarkable punch and clarity, plus the deck stays faithful to David Fincher’s glossy, filmic imagery with a beautifully judged contrast level and nuanced colour reproduction.
Pictures are beautifully textured and full of subtlety, while dark scenes boast clear and definite levels of shadow detail – particularly the gothic opening credits which showcase the deck’s smooth tonal blends as black liquid oozes all over the screen. But cut to shots of the snowy Swedish landscape and the expanse of white looks crisp and detailed.
The tones of Daniel Craig’s stubby skin look convincing, likewise Lisbeth’s pallid features. It’s not a film bursting with bold colours, but when they appear they seem solid and vibrant. What’s more, motion is smooth and judder-free, making this a terrific picture purveyor.
The good work continues with 3D discs. The BDP-160 keeps up its end of the bargain, passing the frames to our 3D TV with no glitches. The result is a purely immersive viewing experience, with superb detail, radiant colours and a believable sense of depth. DVDs also look terrific upscaled to 1080p, expertly suppressing artefacts from the conversion process while keeping a healthy amount of detail and colour subtlety in the picture.
We also ran the Silicon Optix HQV disc and the Pioneer shows it’s ready to handle the rigours of more unusual video material. It locks onto the cadences of the Video and Film Resolution Loss test patterns quickly and securely without significant strobing or flickering, plus it renders the edges of moving diagonal lines without jaggies in the Diagonal Filter test.
In terms of disc loading it fired up Terminator Salvation in 43 seconds (from disc tray open to first video playing) which pales in comparison to the Samsung BD-F7500 and Cambridge Audio 752BD, but is still reasonably quick.
The Pioneer BDP-160 is a solid Blu-ray player, offering a better feature set than previous Pioneer players and superb picture performance. It lacks the razzle-dazzle of rival decks in terms of onscreen design and smart content, but what it does it does well – particularly when it comes to mobile device integration.
What’s more the look is quietly classy and build quality is better than most players you’ll find at this price. It’ll no doubt appeal to movie purists who simply want to play their HD and SD discs without getting side-tracked by tons of web apps they’ll never use. If that’s you, then you should definitely stick the BDP-160 on your list.
A solid Blu-ray player with some nifty features and sparkling hi-def pictures, but smart content is limited and onscreen design is clunkier than the competition