The player is reasonably quick to boot up, especially if you activate the Quick Start mode – another hangover from Sharp’s Blu-ray players – but disc loading is terribly slow. ”Terminator Salvation” started playing an epic one minute and 47 seconds after closing the tray. Not good.
The BDP-330’s pictures are worth waiting for though. With ”Angels & Demons” on Blu-ray, Rome’s ornate architecture looks as good as ever, thanks to the abundance of detail in the picture. Likewise shots of the gathering crowds outside the Vatican, in which you can make out individual figures with no trouble at all. The BDP-330 pulls every last pixel from the disc and transfers them to the screen in the cleanest, sharpest way possible and you can’t ask for much more than that.
Also impressive is the richness and solidity of the picture – blacks are deep and realistic, while excellent shadow detail and contrast keeps dark scenes looking crisp and clear. Ewan McGregor’s cloak, for example, isn’t a single shade of black – instead the curves and folds within it are easy to discern. The last piece of the puzzle is the natural, nuanced colour reproduction, which makes the picture look utterly believable however nonsensical the movie gets.
However, on a more objective level the BDP-330 isn’t quite as assured. The Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray shows up a couple of processing flaws, such as strobing in the corner boxes of the Film and Video Resolution Loss patterns. On the plus side the jaggies tests look flawless and detail is sharp and stable during the pan across the football stadium.
It’s also an impressive DVD upscaler, tackling the DVD version of HQV with conviction. Moving diagonals are free from stepping, detail is crisp and definitive and the different video cadences are handled with impressive stability. This translates into very enjoyable movie playback, as a run-through of our ”Avatar” DVD demonstrates.
Sonically the BDP-330 does a superb job, not just with movie soundtracks but also music. Through the analogue stereo outputs there’s a warmth and clarity to songs that you don’t get from all Blu-ray players at this price. And when it’s rigged up to a good AV receiver via HDMI, hi-res soundtracks will blow you away.
Overall the BDP-330 is a well-built, great-looking Blu-ray player that performs its core duties well. But besides the addition of YouTube access and RSS feeds, there’s very little to get excited about, and as a result it doesn’t represent particularly good value – not when you compare it with decks like the Sony BDP-S570, LG BD570 or the Samsung BD-C6900, which are bursting at the seams with features and cost less than the Pioneer.
Had the BDP-330’s performance been significantly better than the competition it might have had something to recommend it, but sadly it doesn’t. In fact, as far as the Silicon Optix tests are concerned, its video processing is actually inferior to those cheaper players.
And without wishing to rub salt in the wound, you simply can’t ignore the slow disc loading times, regressive operating system, limited digital media support or the lack of built-in Wi-Fi and BD Live memory – all of which leaves the BDP-330 one for die-hard Pioneer fans only.
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