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Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Player - Pioneer BDP-320
We like Pioneer's onscreen operating system, although it's not quite the bright and breezy experience you get from an LG or Panasonic player. The main Home menu looks all grown up and sophisticated, draped in moody blacks and monochrome graphics that depict the selected option. It's easy to follow and the setup menu covers a comprehensive range of settings, but it's a touch sluggish to respond and the inability to change settings without stopping the movie first (and potentially losing your place) is as annoying as ever.
However, a bunch of onscreen displays can be called up during movie playback. The Tools button is the most useful, bringing up a scrolling list at the bottom of the screen that allows you to enter the Audio and Video Adjust menus, as well as activate subtitles, change audio tracks and alter the HDMI output resolution. Hitting Display brings up a banner at the top of the screen giving you information about the disc, including video and audio bitrates.
The substantial remote is roughly similar to that of the LX52, except the flashy silver ring of direction keys has been replaced by a black one and the glow-in-the-dark buttons are now black. It's reasonably easy to use once you get used to it, although the fiddly, homogeneous buttons and muddled layout initially feels a bit cumbersome. There are dedicated buttons for almost every function - Video Adjust and HDMI resolution for instance - allowing for quick, easy access to the most-used functions.
Be warned though, the deck is quite slow to activate many of its functions, particularly Scan modes and chapter skipping. We also carried out our usual disc loading test with Spider-Man 3 and unsurprisingly the BDP-320 limped in with a time of one minute and 12 seconds, which is poor compared to some of the ultra-fast players around at the moment. Even worse was Angels & Demons which started playing after a marathon one minute 55 seconds of waiting. Hopefully, sorting this issue will be high on Pioneer and Sharp's 'To Do' list.