back to article Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray Disc player

It's not been easy for Pioneer of late, what with the painful withdrawal from the high-end plasma TV market that it had dominated with the Kuro, the best plasma family on the planet. However, life goes on and this spritely little Blu-ray Disc player should go some way to putting the spring back into Pioneer’s step. Pioneer BDP- …

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Anonymous Coward

"The player has an 8- to 12-bit colour depth converter..."

Oh, for chrissakes, you've got to be kidding me. For a technical publication, you guys sure are gullible when it comes to hardware...

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Stop

But it's no PS3.

Sure it's got discreet outputs, if you want them, but not being BDLive is a killer (clearly the review has not seen any good BDLIve content, the rest of us have). The players upscaling abilities also don't match the PS3, and it's HD output is only really on-par.

For the money you would be far better off getting a PS3, even if you never used it for gaming, and just it's BD, Upscaled DVD and Media Streaming capabilities, it's still a far better performer.

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Laser disks?

People still use laser disks?

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Lack of Ethernet != no software updates

Q) What's a Blu-ray disc player?

A) It's an embedded computer with some fancy DSPs and a bluray transport

Q) What's a Blu-ray disc?

A) It's a disc containing highly complex data that can be processed by a suitable computer to produce images, sound and interactivity.

Do you think that, just possibly a 'computer' could read a specially formatted 'data disc' and update its firmware? Honestly.. (it's had at least three firmware updates since release).

Having said that, general opinion appears to be that this is an excellent player, that the colour upsampling actually works and to make the obvious comparison, that it blows the PS3 out of the water.

Still, I wish they'd bloody well tie down the bluray spec - it's still not finalised with v2.0.

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Flame

poor

"Still, the lack of a network port means you won't be updating the software on board the BDP-51FD, either" - hmm, you mean like my older DVD players? the ones that I burnt a firmware image onto CD so that they could update? oh yes, thats right. you dont *need* network to do firmware updates.

that said, this isnt good, no network == it cant do any of the newer Blu-Ray shenanigans - which, as said, are currently poor...but if they become successful, well, you'd look a bit silly having this hunk of junk under the TV wouldnt you?

and at that price? why not just buy a PS3 and have a media-center system that can play stuff from your PC, play streamed stuff, play BluRay just as good at 1080p and can play games?

(okay, theres very few games you'd want to play ont he PS3...but you get my point! ;-) )

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MGJ
Happy

Correct

It really is a great player and upscaler but the start up times, as for all Blu Ray players, are a bit tortuous.

Amazon keeps having BluRays on sale at £9, so it is getting affordable. Goes well with my pre-Kuro 42" plasma 427XD, even at only 1080i

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(Written by Reg staff)

@all

No, there's no Ethernet port, as a quick peek at the pic of the player's rear reveals.

Regarding applying updates by downloading them on a computer, burning them to disc then using that to update the player, I suspect only about a handful of potential buyers could be bothered to jump through that particular hoop, and all of them have difficulties forming relationships.

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K
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Cough Cough its bollocks Cough

Get a PS3...

That is all!

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Some minor errors

Some minor errors in the article. You can update the firmware by burning an update to a DVD and loading in the player. Pioneer has released several updates already. Also, the BDP-51FD does not have the Wolfson DACs - those are in the Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD which is the more expensive sibling of the 51FD. The differences between the 05FD and 51FD are minor, but that's one of them. I own an 05FD, which I think is sold as some different model in Europe.

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W

Tesco/Asda

I'll know that I'm not paying the inflated price attached to early adoption when you can buy a BluRay player in Tesco or Asda for £99.

And even if I did buy a BluRay player, I'd need to upgrade from my 14" Bush TV.

Until then, meh.

What's more, my next TV will be a PC. Probably an EEE Box, or similar.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Steve

We checked with Pioneer, and the BDP-51FD does indeed contain Wolfson DACs. The higher-end machines have *better* Wolfson DACs, it's true, but they all contain Wolfson kit.

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Flame

Cometh the PS3 fanboyz

Still justifying the overblown cost of a games console on the back of it's Blu-Ray credentials? Duh, here's me thinking you'd buy a games console to, well, play games on. Oh, silly me.

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Bod
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No Ethernet, no Profile 2, region locked

Same old "who needs it" argument trotted out, but no one will stand for not being able to use all the features of a disc to their maximum potential once and *if* Blu-Ray reaches mass market.

And for that price I'd expect it to do the whole show!!

Not to mention that no Ethernet = No easy upgrades.

But then region locking makes it a non-starter for me anyway, but the same is true of all Blu-Ray players (Blu-Ray region locking that is, not DVD region locks which can at least be hacked in some models).

PS3... yawn. Noisy, overpriced and expensive to run as it consumes power like a PC and not a low powered dedicated player, and still you have to buy a damn remote separately (which doesn't work with universal remotes anyway as it's Bluetooth)! No DTS-HD MA bitstreaming so can't take advantage of a top-end amp's own (potentially superior) decoding, etc, etc. Simply put it's a games console at the end of the day with Blu-Ray shoehorned in to push the Blu-Ray agenda (and let's be blunt here, Blu-Ray only exists because of the PS3 and yet the PS3 has suffered greatly as a games console from the Blu-Ray push when Sony should have concentrated on the gaming platform and a cheaper price).

But all academic anyway. 5 years life left in optical discs. Illegal downloads are already showing just how good HD downloading can be (and they arrive quicker than RoyalMail takes to deliver the post), so it only needs the infrastructure to develop enough to support legal HD downloads at sufficient quality. Yes, it's not there at the moment, but the Internet has come a long way in the past 5 to 10 years and it will continue to do so.

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Paris Hilton

RE: Laser disks?

Yes, Rik, people still use Laserdiscs. I do. Quite often. In fact I though "this BD would look nice to the old Pioneer CLD" — although the good old spinner is not as lacquer-laden.

Or did you mean the disc format per se?

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Coat

re: Cometh the PS3 fanboyz

sigh... iPhone and PS3 bashing in a single week. Feels like 2007.

No, what some people are suggesting is that if you're considering spending ~£300 on a BD player, you may as well get a games console thrown in for free. What they're missing is that this device is aimed at media buffs who recognise the difference in quality by (as Tony has just pointed out) throwing better DACs, picture processing algorithms etc etc at the solution.

To the PS3 boys comparing the prices, yes they are both BD players, yes they're the same price, no they were not created equal.

Disclaimer, yes I own a PS3, yes I use it as a BD player, no I don't think its BD picture quality is as good as this kit. Much like I've got Sony separates instead of a Bush all-in-one hifi that's mostly air.

However I think BD Live is a bit of a gimmick and not why you'd choose one format over the other. I'd be unlikely to network a standalone BD player and so the lack of Ethernet is moot really. Tony, you're right that the majority of folks won't burn a firmware image to upgrade the firmware, but they'd be equally unlikely to upgrade the firmware over t'internet either. Hell, even DVB-T OTA updates are seldom applied cos no-one knows to set their box/TV to look for them and are not automatically switched on.

Flame-proof one please.

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Linux

I'd still probably buy a PS3

As fancy as this player looks, and a like the idea of the 8ch analogue output I'd probably still save myself a few quid and buy a PS3.

Since my current LCD TV is a 720p telly I can't help but think that a PS3 will do just as good a job (and also run Linux too).

Rob

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"I'm not buying Blu-Ray until...."

... Tesco and Asda sell the disks for 99p and the players are available in Wilkos. Blah blah blah. Don't buy them yet then. Nobody is making you, just as nobody is making you read this review so stop with the pissin same old comments and go and read something you're actually interested in. Jeeees

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Still not going to bother

I currently have a DVD (not BD) player with HDD, capable of writing to the HDD and to W/RW DVDs. I also have a WDTV device, which I've upgraded to a non-standard firmware via USB key to get network connectivity (using a USB->ethernet converter), so between the two I can play just about everything I own; whether on DVD, on the player's or my PC's HDDs.

(yes, I love my WDTV to bits. If WD could add just a couple of extra codecs for my anime collection, and perhaps fix the last few bugs in the subtitling system it'd be perfect)

So until a BD player comes along with the same capabilities - HDD, network-browsing capabilities (not just internet connection), recording capabilties, and a decent set of codecs - I am not going to bother to upgrade to a new player. Waste of money.

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hmmm

ahh brilliant, casino royale, the worst BR disk i have seen! wtf was the point in that? might as well stick on aliens 3 (even more grainy)

do us a favour, and review a decent looking movie. ironman etc are flawless...

@"The £350 price tag is about right for the machine’s spec and performance level." - erm, so you say a PS3 is expensive, yet this is ok. apart from maybe slightly better visual quality and slightly better audio (i dont know anyone with a TRUEHD amp anyway, im certainly holding off after buying a really nice amp last year)

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@Mark - mostly

If you think that the PS3 is a good upscaler, or for that matter a top quality Blu Ray player may i suggest a visit to an optician (You get bonus Nectar points from D&A if that's of interest?)

The 51fd is a cracking player, not without it's flaws but picture quality is sublime for the money - you can buy it for around £300 from TLC Broadcast too....

It has some serious issues on the audio side at the moment though, for those interested in the analogue side or without amplifiers able to decode all HD audio - avoid - it cannot currently internally decode DTS-MA (so the PS3 does do something better here!) and also has some serious lip sync issues over analogue, without the ability to adjust them!

You can't fault the picture, but the audio is waiting for a Firmware upgrade that was due in February.....

@Rob if you want a cheaper Blu Ray player, Samsung do a great product with DTS Re-Encode over optical for those with older AV amps - very impressive kit and £130! http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0016J72SM/202-3314281-8268652?ie=UTF8&tag=spoavetstu-21&linkCode=xm2&camp=1634&creativeASIN=B0016J72SM

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@MGJ and @Bod

MGJ - Start time from tray closing to picture on screen for the Matrix DVD, using a Pioneer DV-606D DVD player, about 24 seconds. Start time for the same film on Blu-Ray, using a Samsung BDP-1500, about 30 seconds. Start times for BD using a PS3 are about the same as the BDP. Start times alter dramatically depending on disk.

However, there's no major difference between DVD start times and BD start times. More importantly, your about to sit down for 2 hours and watch a film and your quibbling about, maybe, 10 seconds extra to load the disk. Really ?

Bod - HD downloads don't come close to a decent BD, unless it's a BD rip that's being downloaded (and who has the time to wait for 25GB to download). Most (legal) HD downloads are 720p with a stereo soundtrack (possibly matrixed surround).

BD's are great for those who want the TV and stereo to do their party-piece with audio and visuals.

Downloads may work in a metropolitan area, which has high coverage of reasonable speeds (>8Mbps), as soon as you move away from a city the speeds drop dramatically (i live in a city and am quite happy with the ~20Mbps from Be). Downloads taking over ? Not gonna happen any time soon.

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MGJ

@EvilGav

Switch on, press eject on any cd, dvd device and it opens pretty much instantaneously. 30 seconds later and you still see 'Please Wait' on the 51, before the tray opens.

Other gotchas; out of the box, the analog outputs have a 10db boost to the subwoofer compared to the rest, and it really doesn't play well with my Denon 2307. Batman Returns etc make you forget that in about 5 seconds; just wish that I could boost the centre channel on the amp (Night setting) so you can hear the voices better.

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