LG BP420 Blu-ray player review

Pros

  • Good range of online content
  • Excellent operating system
  • Solid Blu-ray pictures in 2D and 3D
  • Intuitive remote control

Cons

  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • Lightweight build quality

The BP420 is the latest in a long line of LG Blu-ray players to offer a pleasing range of features at a wallet-friendly price. Although it’s not likely to satisfy the needs of hardcore home cinephiles, it could be just the ticket if you’re looking for an affordable disc spinner for the living room or bedroom.

Design and connections

The BP420 lacks glamour but looks attractive. With its black finish, glossy front panel and slim height (41mm) LG has fashioned an understated deck that’ll slot into your system without drawing undue attention.

The disc tray is hidden by a flap that opens and closes automatically. On the right of the front panel are four physical buttons opposed to the touch-sensitive controls offered by many players these days, which hints at the BP420’s budget approach. This is reaffirmed by the overall build quality, which is fairly light and flimsy.

Beside these buttons is a USB port (hidden behind a flap to keep out dust and unwanted intrusions). This is your gateway to video, music and photo playback from USB storage devices and external hard-disk drives. You’ll need to keep a USB drive connected if you want to use BD Live as there’s no built-in memory, which looks a bit ungainly.

On the back is a single HDMI output, composite and analogue stereo out, optical digital out and an Ethernet port. Ethernet provides your only way of sampling the BP420’s Internet and network functionality, as there’s no built-in Wi-Fi. A second HDMI or multichannel audio outputs would be too much too ask at this price – and most people don’t need them anyway.

Features

The BP420 does all the stuff you’d expect from a Blu-ray player, fully versed in the arts of BD Live and 3D via its HDMI v1.4 output.

But the lack of Wi-Fi is disappointing, particularly given the BD-E6100 from bitter rival Samsung offers wireless LAN support at a similar price. You don’t even have the option of adding a wireless dongle.

But when connected to a router via Ethernet, its DLNA-certified Smart Share feature enables you to stream media from servers on your network, and file support is excellent. You can play DivX HD, MKV, WMV, AVI, XviD, MP3, WMA, WAV, M4A and JPEG. The deck also plays these files from USB devices, as well as FLAC.

It’s great to find LG’s Smart TV service on board. This brings a range of Internet apps to your screen, offering convenient access to on-demand movies, video streaming and social networking sites.

These premium apps are heavily weighted in favour of subscription movie services such as Love Film, Acetrax Movies, Netflix, Box Office 365 and Blinkbox. BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Picasa, Facebook and AccuWeather.com are useful, but more free video sites are needed if LG wants to compete with Sony’s Entertainment Network.

A separate area called LG Apps is devoted to games, puzzles and other wacky stuff designed to pass the time. Frankly most of it is rubbish, but if you have kids they’ll probably love it. Any new apps that appear can be downloaded from the LG store.

Other features include 1080p DVD upscaling and a remote app for Android and Apple devices.

Operation

Boot up the player and a helpful setup wizard walks you through the basics like onscreen language and network connection.

The main menu is a delight, using brightly coloured icons superimposed over a graphic of a stage floor. The icons run across the middle of the screen, offering quick access to movies, photos and music, alongside Smart TV and the setup menu. At the bottom of the screen is a shortcut bar that provides quick access to online apps.

Select Movie, Photo or Music and the subsequent menu shows you where that content is stored, whether on disc, USB device or network. The subsequent media menus are clear and jazzed up by pretty backgrounds, although it can take a long time to wade through lists of content if your library is large.

Smart TV’s presentation is fun and engaging, using brightly coloured backdrops and large thumbnails for each service.

A useful menu can be called up during movie playback, showing you all the details of the current disc and allowing you to change the picture mode – among these is a User setting with contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness adjustments.

Operating the BP420 is a cakewalk due to the software’s fast response times and the excellent remote. The button layout is simple and thoughtful, placing the keys in clearly defined groups and labelling everything clearly. A bump in the middle raises the playback controls so you can identify them more easily in the dark.

Disc loading is fairly fast – the BP420 loads Terminator Salvation in 43 seconds, from pressing close on the disc tray to the first video segment starting to play.

Performance

The LG is a solid picture performer, producing images that sparkle with lucid detail. A 2D disc like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 looks suitably lavish, as the BP420 renders the ornate detail of the elaborate, expensive sets with wonderful clarity.

It teases out the textures of costumes and skin, while long shots of outdoor landscapes are packed with detail. Edges are clean, and although there’s a little blur here and there, fast-moving scenes are easy to follow.

During bright scenes, colours pop from the screen, looking radiant yet realistic. This is helped by a terrific contrast level, which gives colours richness and depth. Shadow detail remains visible during the movie’s characteristic gloomy scenes.

These qualities translate into superb 3D pictures. The sharply defined detail and rich colours augment the feeling of depth and immersion.

Sonically the BP420 does a good job with music fed to an amp through the analogue outputs, but it lacks the neutrality and clarity of more expensive players.

Verdict

Budget build quality and a lack of built-in Wi-Fi stop the BP420 being an essential purchase, but if you can live with that then this player still has much to offer.

Its attractive onscreen design and intuitive remote makes operation a breeze, format support is wide-ranging and Smart TV offers a good selection of online content.

Throw impressive picture quality into the mix and you have yourself a great-value Blu-ray deck, although for the same price you can pick up Samsung’s Wi-Fi equipped BD-E6100.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

LG BP420

HDMI output

1, v1.4

Component video output

No

Composite video output

Yes

Ethernet

Yes

Digital audio outputs

1 (optical)

Dolby TrueHD decoding

Yes

DTS HD Master Audio decoding

Yes

USB port

Yes

Built-in Wi-Fi

No

iPod/iPhone support

No

DLNA media streaming

Yes

Smartphone control

Yes

Online content

Smart TV

3D ready

Yes

2D-to-3D conversion

No

Supported media formats

DivX HD, MKV, WMV, AVI, XviD, MP3, WMA, WAV, M4A, JPEG

Dimensions (main unit) W x H x D

430 x 41 x 188mm

Weight

1.6kg