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Pioneer BDP-450 review

Tom Morgan
16 Jun 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
230
inc VAT

Plenty of enthusiast features, but its price means it won’t suit everyone

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The BDP-450-K is Pioneer's top-end player for 2013, so it naturally comes with 3D support, smart TV features, a whole host of image quality settings and DLNA multimedia playback. That’s a healthy set of features, but is it better than the mainstream sub-£100 players available from other manufacturers?

Pioneer BDP-450

Initial impressions are positive, thanks to the retro styling, brushed metal front panel and single-line LCD display. The disc tray extends from the centre of the deck, and its front panel has chunky Power, Play, Stop and Eject buttons. The front panel also has a USB port for playing multimedia files from a flash drive or portable hard disk.

Pioneer BDP-450

Around the back, Pioneer has sensibly fitted two HDMI video outputs. This lets you send video to a projector and audio to an amplifier, or connect it to two displays at once without having to rearrange the cables every time you want to use one instead of the other. Apparently, Pioneer’s precision quartz lock system (PQLS) ensures jitterless transmission of HDMI audio, but only to a compatible Pioneer A/V amplifier.

There are no legacy video outputs, so you need a TV with a HDMI input, but there is a digital coaxial optical output should you want to output audio via this method. You also get a single USB port, as well as a Fast Ethernet port. Sadly, the BDP-450-K one of only a few players in this price range where wireless networking doesn't come as standard. To connect via Wi-Fi, you must buy the AS-WL300 external dongle (£50, from www.superfi.co.uk). Awkwardly, it requires its own power supply.

Pioneer BDP-450

If you have a PC or NAS device on the same network, you can stream multimedia content to the player. File format support was above average. Although all our image and audio files played correctly, and we were able to play MPEG4, MOV, WMVHD, XVID and DivX HD files, we couldn’t play MKV videos. It can also play DVD-audio and super audio compact discs.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of choice when it comes to online content, although we were happy to see that Pioneer has secured on-demand film and TV provider Netflix. It's one of the best web streaming services available, providing a huge amount of content for a relatively small monthly fee. It has practically the same interface as other Netflix-compatible TVs, Blu-ray players and the PlayStation 3, so existing subscribers should feel instantly familiar. The BDP-450-K also provides access to YouTube and Picasa so that you can watch web video and browse photos, but the lack of catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer lessens its appeal.

The onscreen interface, which has beautiful high-resolution icons and text that look fantastic on a Full HD display, is straightforward and easy to navigate using the remote control. It’s an incredibly comprehensive tool, and typical of Pioneer’s Blu-ray line-up, with almost every setting and control being within a finger’s reach. It can be a little overwhelming at first, and it doesn’t help that there’s no backlight and the labels are written in a tiny font. If you prefer to use your smartphone or tablet, you can download and use Pioneer’s iControlAV2012 app instead.

Pioneer BDP-450

For more advanced settings, you must navigate the menu system, which includes LCD, PDP, projector and professional presets, along with a fifth custom mode that gives you control over picture brightness, contrast, and hue. A PureCinema setting optimizes 24p content playback, noise-reduction toggles remove Gaussian, block and mosquito noise, and a Stream Smoother applies noise reduction to web content. PureCinema should be disabled to replicate that cinema experience, but we didn’t feel the need to make any changes to the other settings, and simply opted for the LCD preset to match our reference TV.

Pioneer BDP-450

If you like to fiddle with picture settings, you'll be very happy here

Compared to other players we’ve reviewed recently, the BDP-450-K held up well during 2D Blu-ray playback. It loads discs in around 25 seconds, and resumes even faster using a Quick Start option. Picture quality was excellent, with slightly lighter tones than our reference player, and it emphasises colour vibrancy over shadow detail. You can, however, tweak this in the settings menu if you prefer darker tones. Shadow detail in general was still well defined, while motion was true to the source when watching 24p content. DVD upscaling loses some minor detail compared to other players, but colours remained accurate.

Pioneer BDP-450

This pixel-to-pixel crop from Star Trek is a little lighter than our reference player, with colour vibrancy preferred over shadow detail

With features that’ll appeal to home cinema enthusiasts, including twin HDMI outputs, DVD-audio playback support, jitterless audio to compatible amplifiers and advanced picture tweaks, we can see the BDP-450-K earning its place under many a TV.

However, the lack of Smart TV features and high price will likely put off others. You can buy the Ultimate award-winning Sony BDP-S790 for less, and that will upscale 1080p content to 4K resolutions when connected to a compatible TV. We think that the Sony BDP-S790 is currently a better buy.

Details

Price£230
Rating****

Buying Information

Price£230
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.currys.co.uk
Detailswww.pioneer.co.uk

Features and Connections

Blu-ray profile5.0
HDMI outputs2
HDMI Version1.4
Component outputs0
S-video output0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs1
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless standard802.11n (optional)
USB ports2
Mass storage supportno
Supported memory cardsnone
BD Live storagevia USB

Video, Audio and Photo

Video playback formatsDivX HD, MOV, MP4, WMV HD, XviD
Image viewing formatsJPEG, GIF, BMP
Audio playback formatsMP3, WMA, WAV
YouTube streamingyes

Audio

Dynamic Range Controlyes
Dolby TrueHD supportyes
DTS-HD MA supportyes

Physical

Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on14W
Size435x252x90mm

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