Taking a peek at DVD, The Mask of Zorro was splendid. Individuals in the crowd outside Don Rafael’s balcony were clearly defined, and there was no breakup in the waterfall outside Zorro’s cave. Again, skin tones were natural, the sky was a beautiful blue, and the pinks and yellows of the petal-strewn entry to Don Rafael’s home were delicately rendered.
The sound was uniformly superb on all titles, especially when an uncompressed PCM soundtrack was available. Explosions were deep and rich, dialog was perfectly intelligible, and soundtrack scores were beautifully clean and clear.
One disturbing thing: on some titles (not all), the player emitted a loud pop when skipping chapters, starting and stopping, and calling up the menu. I can’t explain this behavior, but it sure was annoying.
The Pioneer BDP-HD1 is a fine Blu-ray player with many excellent traits, most notably superlative detail, color, and sound. Its lack of compatibility with CD and BD-R/RE is unfortunate, as is its lack of support for any advanced audio codecs. But the smoothness of motion you get when the player’s 24fps output is hitched to a 24fps display dispels any misgivings, bringing the movies home in a whole new way.