Elsewhere, the BDP-330 can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio internally and output them as multichannel LPCM over HDMI, and when listening to music over HDMI, Pioneer’s Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) ensures that the stereo or multichannel signal (LPCM or bitstream) is transferred without any jitter. You’ll need a compatible Pioneer receiver to make it work though.
Another nifty feature is the ability to control the BDP-330 from your iPhone or iPod touch. Download the free iControlAV app and your Apple device is turned into a fully functioning remote, provided the deck has been hooked up to a web router first.
And if you’re a keen collector of digital music and photos, you can liberate them in your living room by connecting a storage device to the BDP-330’s front USB port. However, it’s disappointing to learn that there’s no support for video files at all, just MP3 and JPEG. With many cheaper players offering support for formats like MKV and DivX HD this is a real blow, and its ability to play back AVCHD from DVD is scant consolation.
Also disappointing is the lack of picture adjustments, which has always been a key feature of Pioneer’s Blu-ray players, even its ‘affordable’ models. That’s not likely to impress enthusiasts looking to calibrate the picture for their demanding displays.
The BDP-330 is generally easy to use, but the operating system has taken a bit of a downturn since the last generation of ‘pureblood’ Pioneers. Access the Home menu and the moody greyscale graphics and jazzy fonts have been replaced by more rudimentary icons and lettering, which looks really dull.
It’s interesting to note that the structure and appearance of the menu system is basically the same as Sharp’s Blu-ray decks, with a few tweaks here and there. This suggests Sharp’s designers got first dibs on the menu layout, but someone from Pioneer should have spoken up a bit louder at the design meeting as their old system was infinitely more sophisticated.
It’s not all bad news though. We like the way Sharp’s menu system offers brief explanations for each menu option, and it’s arranged in a logical way. The remote is fine too, with coffee-table friendly looks and intelligent placement of the direction pad and the frequently-used buttons. That said, many of the other keys are too small and the zapper is remarkably long, which means you need to shuffle your hand upwards to reach the top buttons.