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Pioneer BDP-450 - Operation, Performance and Verdict

By Danny Phillips


  • Recommended by TR
Pioneer BDP-450


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Review Price £249.99

Pioneer BDP-450 Operation

Operating the Pioneer BDP-450 is a pleasant, hassle-free experience. There’s a classiness and simplicity about the onscreen menus that makes a refreshing change from the bright, in-your-face GUIs found on most Blu-ray decks these days. All of the menus are set against a deep black background, with monochrome HD illustrations on the right hand side. The fonts are crisp and legible, plus all of the options are logically structured, which helps when browsing the comprehensive Initial Setup menu. One of the options here is a Setup Navigator, which runs through the essential settings to make life easier.

Pioneer BDP-450

Pioneer BDP-450

The Home Media Gallery is where you can access DLNA servers and USB-stored media. Files are listed on the left in a brush-effect grey box that’s wide enough to display most file names in full. You can create video, music and photo playlists here.

Pioneer BDP-450

The remote is covered with ranks of small buttons and even smaller lettering, with little attempt made to distinguish one from another, but the main menu controls are conveniently located for the thumb and there's a dedicated Netflix button that lets you get to the service quickly. Pioneer TVs and receivers can be controlled with the bank of controls at the top.

The Quick Tray feature is actually more useful than it sounds, allowing you to get back to the sofa more quickly. The deck also loads Blu-ray discs reasonably quickly if its handling of Terminator Salvation is anything to go by – just 35 seconds was all it took to get from an open tray to playing the disc, which is much faster than most of the decks we’ve tested of late.

Pioneer BDP-450 Performance

As far as HD video playback is concerned, the Pioneer BDP-450 simply can’t be faulted. As a baptism of fire we started off with the Silicon Optix HQV disc, and it instantly detects and corrects the tricky cadences of the Video and Film Resolution Loss test patterns, as well as resolving the camera pan across the football stadium with no judder or excessive noise – but we did have to turn off the Pure Cinema mode to achieve these good results.

The Pioneer BDP-450 also resolves the moving white bars of the Jaggies test with smooth, clean edges – the mark of competent diagonal filtering.

Moving to 2D movies, the Pioneer BDP-450 delivers wonderfully smooth, cinematic pictures, packed with bucketloads of detail that lends complexity and texture to the image. During Clash of the Titans’ scorpion attack, the dusty desert settings look stunning thanks to the intense detail and subtle shading in the surrounding sand dunes, while the up-close detail on Perseus’ face and costume is sharp as a tack.

Pioneer BDP-450

The contrast level is also nicely judged, lending depth to black parts of the screen without losing shadow detail, at the same time resolving bright areas with a crisp, eye-catching glint. This is all achieved with the LCD picture preset selected, but you can have a play with the Custom settings if that doesn’t suffice.

Its colour palette is also spot-on, rendering strong colours with real punch (nowhere more so than the luscious rainforests of Pandora on our Avatar disc) but grounding subtle shades like skin tones and sand in reality with their natural, realistic look. The deck also handles movement with great expertise, with no tracking issues or judder when the screen is filled with loads of fast-moving objects.

3D movies look even more mesmerising. The active 3D system’s layering adds an absorbing sense of depth, backed up by the punchy detail and spectacular colours. There’s evidence of crosstalk on certain parts of the picture but that’s likely to be the fault of the TV. Overall the Pioneer BDP-450 is a stunning picture performer no matter what disc you throw at it.

It also does a fine job with music, passing the digital audio signals to an AV receiver with no evidence of distortion. Multichannel SACD discs sound wonderful through our Onkyo receiver and Teufel speakers, plunging you right inside the music with meticulously resolved high-frequency detail, solid, rhythmic bass and a smooth midrange.

Pioneer BDP-450 Verdict

The Pioneer BDP-450 is not a cheap Blu-ray player, but it does just about enough to justify its price tag. It’s robustly built, gorgeous to look at and conjures up magical high-definition pictures with both 2D and 3D discs. What’s more, there are more nifty features than you might expect from this type of player, including YouTube, Picasa and Netflix access, DLNA media streaming, smartphone remote control, a long list of supported media formats and detailed picture tweaks.

It’s also smooth in operation, offers dual HDMI outputs, and makes Blu-ray viewing is more convenient than ever and with its Quick Tray and Continued features. However, buyers who crave built-in Wi-Fi and a wider range of web content might be tempted to look elsewhere.

Read more: Best Blu-ray players to buy

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December 14, 2012, 4:48 am

Danny, I just bought this player (two, actually) and am very pleased, agree 100% with your review. One thing I haven't been able to confirm works is the SACD/CD function, switching between the two (any hints would be appreciated....I want to validate the sound quality on some hybrid SACD discs). I was hoping there would be an indicator on the front panel screen indicating the format being played back (i.e. SACD, CD......). The only other (and its slight, frankly) frustration is it will not play AIFF audio file format (Apple), but easy to work around that if known upfront. Setup, operation and performance, as you say, all very good.


December 18, 2012, 10:19 pm

does this player support 1080p mkv files? somewhere i read that it only supports 720p for mkv files..


January 6, 2013, 4:05 pm

Havy, I bought an BDP-150K a few days ago. I tried a SACD / CD hybrid disk and I must say that the disk is always played using the SACD format (there is a "SACD" indication). I tried the CD SACD button on the remote control, but it didn't work for me (I expected it to switch to a CD format and back). On the other hand, I can't realy work out why one should want to downgrade the sound quality from SACD to a CD format.

There's one thing that really makes me mad - it always switches a TV on (connected vie HDMI) and there's no way to get rid of it. If I play an audio CD, I don't need a telly, do I? It's even worse, there's Pioneer logo at a fixed position, so I expect after a few months of audio playing I'll have a Pioneer logo deeply burnt into my TV. Or can anyone help with a hint?


January 8, 2013, 2:05 am

Tom, thanks. I sorted out the SACD / CD playback issue - - as usual, "operator error"! Disc I had was marked SACD, but finally I checked with the distributor of the disc and they confirmed they never issued that in SACD!! Anyway, the reason I wanted to test the on/off of SACD was just to listen to audio quality differences, which there of course are. Done. Regarding your TV on issue, I don't get that, so there must be a way to set it up so the tv doesn't automatically turn on. I am using the separate HDMI set up (HDMI main to the TV, HDMI sub to my receiver). Also, I have tried the "pure audio" setting on the player and it does seem to enhance audio quality, and it removes the Pioneer logo if your tv does happen to be on. I'll sort through my set up to see if I can discern anything else helpful.

One other update - - I had to return and replace one of the two BDP 450's I bought - - on two occasions after switching the unit off at night, the next morning it wouldn't turn back on (either from the remote or on the front panel. The cabinet above where the HDMI plugs are was extremely hot, so I unplugged the power supply. waited for it to cool, plugged it back in and all worked. This unit as well had stopped playing video files, sound would come through, but no video feed. Again, after doing the unplugging, cool-down routine, video playback came back. But I didn't want a fire hazard so I returned it for a replacement (no problem to do so at my retail seller here in Thailand, thankfully).

Finally, I've not had any success playing .mkv files, have tried quiet a few and no dice (though I didn't check if they were 1080 or not). Hope Pioneer puts out a fix.


January 10, 2013, 4:05 am

UPDATE JAN 10 2013 - **WARNING** - As I reported a few days ago in reply to Tom's comment, I had returned for a replacement one of the two players I purchased due to malfunction / possible fire hazard. Today I had the same problem occur with the replacement unit, so I believe there is a firmware / software problem with this player. I am going to try to report it to Pioneer. The issue appears to occur when using the player's options for changing via the remote the HDMI setting (Dual, Separate, and Pure Music). Quick summary - - I have the player hooked up via 2 HDMI cables, one to my plasma TV and the other to my Yamaha AV receiver. I also have a 500 GB external USB drive attached to the front jack. When playing CD's, I switch, using the remote, the HDMI setting to "pure music", which I used for a good part of the day for listening to discs. In the evening, I wanted to watch a video from the USB drive, so I switched the HDMI setting to "separate" - - however, the video's picture was "frozen" on my tv screen, although the sound worked. I then switched the HDMI setting to "dual" and both picture and sound worked. after watching several videos, I shut off all the components and the player. This morning, the player would not turn on from either the remote or the front panel. I felt the player's cabinet above the HDMI jacks at the back, and it was very hot. I then unplugged the player from the power supply, let cool, then plugged it back in. The player is now working. If you have this unit, be very careful about changing the HDMI settings as it seems to confound the player's firmware or software, and causes overheating in the back of the player, a potential fire hazard. I'll update this site again once I get any further information from Pioneer.

Ian Harland

April 1, 2013, 12:09 am

is definitely a problem with this machine when it is configured to run both the
HDMI outputs in "separate” mode: It locks up consistently on Blu-ray menus.
Refuses to play Blu-ray discs - ejecting the tray - as if no discs are there
(which is only cured once the power is removed from the wall socket) and the HDMI
"control" functions fail operate anything!


October 18, 2013, 9:25 am

What's picture quality like compared to lower priced players from Samsung and Panasonic?


October 18, 2013, 9:42 am

What's picture quality like compared to the Panasonic 500 and 330?


October 4, 2014, 1:29 pm

Can the USB Ports read external hard-disks (ie not just thumb drives)?

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