The Pioneer BDP-450 is one of two new Blu-ray players in Pioneer’s current range. It’s the step-up version of the Pioneer BDP-150, adding more powerful video processing and features like dual HDMIs and DVD-Audio playback. It’s also network-ready, which means you can also stream content from the internet and your own media servers.
Design-wise, the Pioneer BDP-450 is a chunky old-school Blu-ray player just like mama used to make, and we love that. With its 90mm height and 252mm depth, there’s no concession to discretion or space-efficiency – it’s a plus size player that wants to be noticed.
It may be big but it’s also beautifully styled. The black aluminium faceplate has a brushed effect that shimmers alluringly in the light, and front panel clutter is kept to a minimum. There are four buttons – power, play, stop and disc tray open/close – plus a USB port for media playback. The disc tray is placed in the middle, above a large LED display with lettering that’s easy to read from the sofa.
Pick it up and the Pioneer BDP-450 feels lighter than you might expect given its size, but build quality is sound thanks to the firmly screwed aluminium top cover and fascia.
On the back of the Pioneer BDP-450 are fewer connections than we expected given Pioneer’s audio-centric heritage. For example, we’d have expected multichannel and stereo outputs to cater for music purists with ageing amps, but you get neither. You will, however, find two HDMI outputs, which is primarily intended to help owners of non-3D AV receivers. You can use one of these outputs to feed 3D pictures to your TV, while feeding audio bitstreams separately to the AV receiver.
The dual HDMIs can also be used to feed two displays simultaneously. You can select how they’re used in the setup menu – the Dual setting outputs video and audio from both; the Separate mode outputs Video from the ‘Main’ port and audio from the ‘Sub’ port; while Pure Audio mode outputs audio from the Sub port and nothing from the Main.
Joining these are an Ethernet port, coaxial digital output and a second USB port. Oddly the cheaper Pioneer BDP-150 offers more sockets, losing the second HDMI port but adding analogue stereo and composite outputs – although these aren’t essential nowadays.