LG offers a full-featured 3D-capable Blu-ray player to go with their new line of 3D HDTVs.
The BX580 is presently LG’s only 3D-capable Blu-ray player, but is a very good performer, is competitively priced, and has a feature set that should satisfy most buyers.
Compared to first-generation standalone Blu-ray players, the LG is downright svelte. With only an eight-inch depth and a height of well under two inches., it shouldn’t be difficult to incorporate the BX580 into your equipment rack. While the player incorporates fan cooling (as do many), it runs virtually silently (some early generation Blu-ray players generated a fair amount of internal heat, along with rather noisy fan cooling).
Consider this Blu-ray player if: You’re planning on getting an LG 3D TV, as the feature set and user interface match nicely.
Look further if: You’d like a larger internet app feature set, as the LG’s current offerings are rather limited, compared to what’s available on some other 3D Blu-ray players.
Video Quality (DVD): 8
Video Quality (Blu-ray): 10
User Interface: 8
The BX580 is equipped with onboard Wi-Fi so no external wireless adapter is needed, which is a plus (there’s also a conventional RJ-45 LAN connection). The player is equipped with a suite of Internet apps (NetCast), which includes a somewhat limited range of widgets (news, weather and the like from Yahoo), plus three streaming video services (Netflix, Vudu and Roxio’s CinemaNow).
There’s also Internet radio via Pandora, music streaming via Napster, picture viewing via Picasa, and access to YouTube videos—functions that seem to be ubiquitous these days in the era of Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. To those, LG adds a Major League Baseball channel on this Blu-ray player, as well as DivX Video-on-Demand.
Like just about every other modern Blu-ray player, the LG supports BonusView and BD-Live, but in order to access BD-Live downloadable content, you’ll need a USB thumb drive, which plugs into the front panel’s USB port. With numerous other Blu-Ray players, especially upper tier models, there’s on-board RAM that supports the BD-Live function. Given the BX580’s price, it’s surprising that in this day and age when 1GB RAM chips are dirt cheap, they’ve opted to forgo on-board memory and require the use of a thumb drive, and there’s only one USB port, located behind the player’s flip-down front panel door.
Having said that, the USB port provides a wider range of functionality compared to the ports found on some other Blu-ray players, which often only support MP3 audio playback and JPG photo viewing. The LG provides those functions, but also handles a wide array of audio, picture and video file types.
One very nice touch is an on-board MP3 encoder, which can convert standard CD PCM audio tracks to a choice of MP3 bit-rates, including 128, 192, and 320 kilobits per second, and that also provides the option of lossless coding as well. The function works faster than real-time, taking about a half hour or less to convert a one-hour music CD. With music CDs as well as DVD and Blu-ray movies, the player can fetch song title and other related information from Gracenote’s massive database.
For connection to an external audio system, the player features both types of digital audio output (coaxial and optical), which is another plus that aids in system configuration flexibility, as well as DTS Neo:6 decoding, which provides Music and Cinema modes for two-channel stereo content.
While not backlit, the remote control features a similar design and layout to match their current premium TVs’ remotes, and is an overall very good design. The transport and numerical keypad buttons are large and clearly labeled, and there are dedicated buttons for the Home menu and to turn the on-screen display on or off.
The on-screen menu is similar to that found on LG’s upper-tier TVs, and features clear and legible text and graphics and sensible menu organization.
The player does a very good job of upconverting standard definition DVDs to 1080p, as evidenced by pretty good scores with a number of DVD torture test discs. It also does a similarly good job of upconverting 1080-line interlaced HD content to 1080-line progressive output, with no obvious jaggie artifacts in evidence.
The disc transport is also quite speedy, very quickly going from chapter to chapter and track to track. With dual-layer DVDs (of which there are many), the LG accomplished a very quick and almost imperceptible layer change, literally in the blink of an eye.