Component Reviews

LG BD590 250GB HD Network Blu-ray Player

An impressively-designed Blu-ray player at a reasonable price.

Published on September 14, 2010

LG BD590 250GB HD Network Blu-ray Player

LG BD590 250GB HD Network Blu-ray Player 

SRP: $349.99
[$249 at Amazon]

LG Electronics

201 James Record Rd

PO. Box 240007

Huntsville, Alabama 35813
www.lge.com

1-800-793-8896


Features

Blu-ray Player with 250GB Hard Drive; 802.11N for wireless networking:  NetCast for YouTube & CinemaNow; BD-P NetFlix HD BD live; full HD 1080p output via HDMI with Cinema mode at 24 or 60 frames per second;  audio performance with Dolby Digital, TrueHD & DTS-HD; Quick boot with instant tray opening;  Output Mode: Surround Sound;  Form Factor: Tabletop;  Built In Decoder: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital, DTS decoder;  Color: Gloss Black;  Width: 16.9 inches;  depth: 8 inches;  height: 1.7 inches;  weight: 4.4 pounds; warranty: 1-year

Setup and Impressions
For the most part, the LG BD590 is an impressively designed Blu-ray player.  I tested it on a Polaroid LG FLM-3232 television (2006 vintage) and hooked it up to an even older JVC RX-8040B A/V controller receiver.  The network I used was  running Windows 7, Vista, and XP machines. I hooked up the TV via HDMI at 1080p/60.

Configuration is a snap. As Bobby, my old techie friend used to say while convincing me to tackle computer upgrades, "your grandmother could do it!" I expected problems, particularly in getting the unit recognized by my home Wi-Fi network, but encountered none.

Remote Control

The remote is generally well designed, although you will need to read the manual to figure out what the four colored RGYB buttons mean. (No, they have nothing to do with color configuration; they control BD-ROM menus.) The playback controls are humped slightly upward, making them easy to find in the dark. There are also nubs on the rewind/fast-forward button, which (once you know they’re there) are useful.  The bottom has six buttons for controlling a TV, but only five non-LG models are configurable to accept these. And really old ones (like those over six years) probably won’t find them at all.

Video Quality
BD playback is impressive. The resolution is more than acceptable , although the first time you will have to select the 1080p resolution from the menu. (The program does not seek the optimal resolution.) Videophiles should be warned that the BD590 tends to clip whites in Standard mode, but unless you’re a real stickler, that may not influence your buying decision on a unit that you can probably get for under $300 street.

Sound Quality
Like most  Blu-ray players, the BD590 offers onboard decoding for high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. The sound quality–or more accurately the sound transference to an amplifier–is excellent. Not only does it perform well in transferring 5.1 surround sound to your audio system, it also does a decent job reproducing low quality sound, such as that produced by most YouTube videos. For example, you can hear every quaint pop and crackle from old renditions, such as  Cab Calloway’s "St. James Infirmary  Blues" (1933) from the Betty Boop cartoon "Snow White." It plays the most popular audio formats, like CD, CD-R, and CD R/W.

However, if you want to play SACD and DVD-Audio discs, look elsewhere. They’re not supported. As Bobby would say, "ain’t that a bitch!" This means you’ll have to keep your old unit around on the rack for playing these format. Welcome to "cutting edge technology."

Wi-Fi  Networking
Speaking of networking:  the LG BD590 is a mixture of wow-neato! and what-were-they-thinking?  The internet services list is impressive, a mixture of paid and free: Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow for a fee; YouTube, Pandora, Picasa, and AccuWeather for free.  While keyboards and mice exist for players like the BD590, they don’t come with the product. To perform a search on YouTube, for example, you must painstakingly click out each letter using a virtual keyboard. Happily, the respective interfaces remember login sequences from session to session.

Minuses
You can use the HomeLink feature to load movie files and pictures that are on your networked PCs. It won’t recognize DVD files on your PC, however. Nor will it have anything to do with AVI files, a format still preferred by some digital camera video models.

Most oddly, the network connection goes only one way. You cannot access the 250 GB hard drive, which you may have  been using to record your CD collection, from any of your networked PCs. This means that whatever you record  is not really yours. If you cannot back up your "CD archive" on a networked PC, then watch out. It belongs to you only until you get rid of the unit or it breaks down. Think of it as "borrowed."  So what good is it? Probably just to try out music from other sources and play it until you get tired of it. I don’t know why LG chose to do this, since at least one comparable unit allows hard drive backup. Other users have complained that movies purchased and downloaded from sites like Vudu cannot be played on the player when you are offline. Nor can you save YouTube videos to disc for offline playing.

By the way, the BD590 is also not upgradeable to support 3D Blu-ray playback, in case you’re eager to get on that bandwagon.

Conclusion
Wi-Fi capability is such a new field for media players that manufacturers are still sounding out what customers want. For its welter of features and despite its few interface quirks (such as no memory for removed discs, no subtitles available while fast-forwarding), it is worth the price. But if you feel you don’t need the 250 GB drive, drop down one model and get the  BD570, which is basically the same, minus the hard drive and $130 in cost.

– Peter Bates




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